“And Margaret Atwood is nothing to sneeze at.”

March 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

fr. en.wikipedia.org

Pauline Johnson
fr. en.wikipedia.org

So suggests James Adams of Canada’s The Globe and Mail in his 27 Feb 2013 article about Vancouver’s Norman Armour.  Armour is preparing to direct the world premier of PAULINE, a chamber opera (small ensemble, intimate performance space, stems from the 1940s and Benjamin Britten), featuring an original score by Tobin Stokes, about one of Canada’s beloved poets, Pauline Johnson (1861-1913.)

The libretto’s been written by none other than Canada’s own- and my personal literary, decorum, and tact hero, because, among other more well known fabulous things she can and has done, she carries little cards that say, in very small lettering, “stop talking”– Canada’s own MARGARET ATWOOD.

Okay, so, a woman of words who would hand over, ever so discreetly, a card bluntly requesting the chatter stop?  One may safely assume she’s edited her opera.  And, for the modern audience, that’s a good thing.  I’m thinking this PAULINE is not Wagnerian.

I’m also in love with the idea of her words fixed into short-as-possible yet still operatic run-on sentence arias and wafting across soprano vocal cords out into the fully chamber-orchestrated atmosphere of, in this case, four hundred seats in Vancouver’s York Theatre.

City Opera Vancouver announced this past week that #PAULINE will run in May 2014 for six to ten performances, with eight performers, at a cost of $300,000.

Hm.  I wonder what the entertainment portion alone of the 2013 Oscars cost. ???

More people watch the Oscars, and have something at stake in them, than attend chamber opera.  Okay, okay.  More people snack on potato chips than celery, too.

And this is an Atwood opera, not a Verdi.  But think Faye Dunaway staring you down if YOUImage refuse to sleep with her husband and give her a child and then tell me Atwood ain’t got operatic in her.

I have neither seen this opera performed nor read the libretto.  But, since I’m on a kick to study contemporary themes as they pop up on stage through the tried and true medium Mozart brought the masses (I still think somebody oughta score KILL BILL), and then to test their mettle as an audience member first, a woman watching portrayals of women second, and then blog blog blog my reactions, PAULINE is a perfect target.  There are few women I’d rather see stage portrayals of women than MARGARET ATWOOD, the lady who’s far from “something to sneeze about.”

Bellow and proclaim over, perhaps.  I was privileged to work in seminar with her in Key West, so maybe I’m biased? Or maybe I know a thing or two first hand.

Regardless, I look forward to reviews from Vancouver, maybe a live performance or two in the States if things go well.  Shout out to #VirginiaOpera, perhaps?  Pauline Johnson may be Canadian, but #MargaretAtwood’s global.


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