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Monday, December 23, 2013

12 Blogs of Christmas #3: Best of 2013!

I've done "Best of" lists for that past few years. Rather unpopular with some, I will continue the tradition, albeit in a bit lighter vein.

So my "Best of 2013" list:

Best Use of Costume: Geoffrey Penar's hilarious Voltore in VOLPONE donned in a longish skirt that initially caused him a bit of consternation, but when fully embraced, was used brilliantly to add comic touches to all of his staging, and in particular, to the courtroom dance of greed.

Best Problem Solving: ME! So what to do when your Queen of the Night has knee surgery and is unable to walk (in a production without the use of a fly system or any other technical assistance) or stand without aid? Give her minions! Use her crutches! Put her on a suicidal rolling bar twirled around by said minions that could have taken her out and audience members as well!

Best Vocal Moment: Rebecca Woodmass' Queen. All you opera companies out there -- hire her. Her Queen is spectacular. Vocally AND she's dramatically fearless.

Worst Vocal Moment: You know who you are.

Most Paranoid Singer: The Person who thinks they had the Worst Vocal Moment.

Best Beard: Brian Prinzen as Sarastro. His natural full beard was, obviously, an inspiration. It looked great, worked perfect for the Steampunk concept, and was simply EPIC.

Best exit: Gordon Bintner's Sprecher. After his final line in the grand recit, I had him walk slowly up and out the center aisle -- thus ending his last appearance on the Opera McGill stage. Beautifully sung and a fitting end. Plus he looked fantastic in his Ginette Grenier leather coat and steampunk top hat.

Best entrance: Volpone's three servants, sung by Igor Mostovoi, Collin Shay, and Pascale Spinney, rowing the bed on the turntable (during the final trio sung by Gordon Bintner, Kevin Delaney, and Rebecca Robinson), they looked great and it finished the show on a joyous note.

Best light cue: EVER! The end of Mosca's "Fly" aria. We used the moving, swirling, gobos that randomly flew across the set and ended as a tight, cinematic spotlight on Mosca's face for his final high B-flat -- which simply couldn't have been done without LW's lights and a LOT of programming time!

Best prop: Tamino's steampunk rifle (I like operatic weapons...)

Best prop creationist: Russell Wustenberg's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO contracts, letters, and Cherubino song. For someone who was finishing up his BMus degree, he certainly went the distance to create professional props of the highest level.

Worst melt down: Me during the drive to Iowa a few days ago. Getting stuck in the middle of Michigan during a snowstorm was really, truly, not a fun thing.

Coolest addition to Opera McGill: Our Saturday Shakespeare Workshops with Paul Yachnin and Paul Hopkins. Check out this video by Anne Kostalas:

Opera McGill Shakespeare Documentary

(And check out our other videos on Youtube as well!)

Best (non)use of Iambic Pentameter: Kevin Delaney

Best musical moment: Serenade to Music in the Shakespeare Serenade when all 16 voices sang together for the first time on "How sweet the moonlight".

Best evening spent in a theatre: That magical evening in Redpath Hall on September 21st. It was, absolutely, one of the best evenings of my career. Combining Shakespeare's Sonnets with some amazing songs sung by some amazing students made for a brilliant night.

Most controversial staging: Singers standing on a piano?! OMG! Call 911! Write a letter! Or maybe just bitch about it behind my back to everyone and let it get back to me a few days later... It was a freaking spectacular bit of staging, if I say so myself.

Best recitative: Sara Ptak as Cleo in Giulio Cesare.

Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu: Tinervia's departure from McGill. My journey as a director encompasses many twists and turns and Dave has been there for many, if not all, of them. Dave has been featured in some memorable moments on the Opera McGill stage. AlcinaAgrippina, Boheme, Poppea, and Flute stand out in my memory for his extraordinary contributions to those productions. His range (from shorn mystical tree-man to gay executive assistant to a classic Schaunard to a Roman husband contemplating both love & murder, to his take on that delightful half-bird / half-man) is astounding. When I think back on his journey, I'm astonished.

It goes without saying that my best students teach me the most. I've been so lucky to have such talented students who enlighten my days daily.

A real "best of" list is actually quite impossible to make when one has THE BEST OF walking the halls and populating the rehearsal studios and performing on the Opera McGill stage practically every day.

I could just go on and on, but will stop here before I start in on the Best Ornament or some such nonsense.

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