clearn.png
Wednesday August 10th, 2022 12:43AM

New opera has soprano scaling the heights -- literally

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Lauren Pearl is giving new meaning to the term high-flying soprano.

Sure, her latest venture calls for her to sing up to a high C, but plenty of operatic heroines have to do that. What’s different in Pearl’s case is that she will be singing while scaling a 60-foot brick wall.

Pearl is performing the role of Louise in “Gould’s Wall,” a work that is receiving its world premiere at Toronto’s adventuresome Tapestry Opera beginning Aug. 4.

The opera is the brainchild of composer Brian Current, who regularly passes the wall on his way to work with students at the Glenn Gould School, which is housed in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The brick facade is a remnant of a building that dates back to 1881, and it was preserved when the conservatory got a new, modern facility.

“That vertical space was just crying out for something to happen,” Current said. “With singers climbing on the walls, and the audience in the atrium looking up.”

He enlisted Liza Balkan, a performer, director and writer, who created a libretto that, as she said, tells “the story of a young artist, a woman, climbing the wall as a journey toward finding her own voice, the readiness to fly and soar.”

Along the way she encounters numerous characters who are harnessed to windows on the wall. Singing from below is Gould himself — the legendary pianist known for perfectionism who remains one of Canada’s most revered classical music figures nearly 40 years after his death.

“He is a presence in the building always,” Balkan said, and in the opera “he is there to support and also interrogate” the artist on her journey.

To play Louise, the company engaged Pearl, who was not a climber but had been training as an aerialist after, as she explained, “I fell in love with a circus performer.”

“I felt the story was very resonant and uplifting and inspiring,” Pearl said. “I thought immediately, I want to do that. But yeah, it’s daunting. It’s a high space.”

She has been practicing on the wall with the help of DangerBoy, a company whose website says it specializes in “stunts, rigging and special effects.” For the performances, Pearl will be securely fastened to a harness with a carabiner for extra protection.

Pearl said she found that singing while suspended from ropes and scaling a wall requires some adjustment in her vocal technique. ”There needs to be a line of energy through my entire body,” she said. “A greater awareness of tension and support.”

Current’s score, which runs about an hour, will be played by an orchestra consisting of five pianos along with an ensemble of brass, winds, strings and percussion.

The audience of just over 100 will be divided into sections, with prime seating on the atrium floor in reclining chairs angled to provide an easy view of the ascent.

“We thought at first of having people lie on mats,” Current said. “But our audience is largely people who aren’t 20.”

Other spectators will be on a balcony of the new building across from the wall. “Then you’re almost at the same level of the singers and also looking down and you can see the orchestra down below,” Current said.

Tom Comet, head rigger for DangerBoy, said the technical aspect of supporting Pearl’s climb is “pretty simple stuff. We’re pulling on a rope, we’re pulling some ropes through some pulleys, we’re redirecting that line.

“That said,” Comet added, “anytime we have human life in our hands … we need to be 100,000% sure that everything’s going to work as we anticipate.

“For me,” Comet said, “the coolest thing is that Lauren is actually belting out opera fearlessly while she’s suspended in the air, 40-50 feet up. It’s gonna be pretty incredible to experience.”

—-

Mike Silverman writes frequently about opera for The AP. He can be reached at [email protected]

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
A richer, stronger China warns Pelosi not to visit Taiwan
In 1997, Beijing grumbled but swallowed its irritation when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Taiwan
9:19AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Russia attacks Kyiv area for the first time in weeks
Russian forces launched missile strikes Thursday on the Kyiv area and the northern Chernihiv region for the first time in weeks, in what a Ukrainian official said was revenge for the fierce resistance the Kremlin has faced after it invaded its neighbor
9:13AM ( 19 minutes ago )
UK crown court judge's sentencing broadcast for first time
A British judge has jailed for life a man who killed his grandfather in the first crown court sentencing to be televised in Britain
9:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Tyler Perry to receive honorary AARP Purpose Prize Award
Tyler Perry will receive an honorary AARP award for uplifting communities and helping people “overcome various obstacles” through his foundation
8:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Bernard Cribbins, actor who delighted UK kids, dies at 93
Beloved British actor Bernard Cribbins has died at the age of 93
7:02AM ( 2 hours ago )
Macron boosting Saudi prince's standing with dinner invite
French President Emmanuel Macron is planning to welcome Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to his presidential palace and offer him dinner, marking another step in the Saudi leader’s diplomatic rehabilitation less than four years after the killing of writer and critic Jamal Khashoggi
5:20AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Shawn Mendes cancels world tour to prioritize his health
Shawn Mendes has pulled the plug on the rest of his world tour, cancelling dates in North America and Europe so he can focus on his mental health
4:48PM ( 16 hours ago )
Aronofsky, Iñarritu films set for Venice Film Festival
Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” the Marilyn Monroe drama “Blonde,” Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” and Guadagnino’s “Bones and All,” with Timothée Chalamet, will all have their world premieres in competition at the Venice International Film Festival this fall
11:11AM ( 22 hours ago )
Spain: Shakira rejects prosecutors' offer, faces tax trial
The public relations firm that represents Shakira says the Colombian pop singer has opted to go to trial instead of accepting a deal offered by Spanish prosecutors to settle allegations she defrauded Spain’s government of 14.5 million euros ($15 million) in taxes
9:55AM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Online Recordings News
A richer, stronger China warns Pelosi not to visit Taiwan
In 1997, Beijing grumbled but swallowed its irritation when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Taiwan
9:19AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week
Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, but the previous week’s number was revised upward significantly, with claims breaching the 250,000 level in back-to-back weeks for the first time in more than eight months
9:18AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Russia attacks Kyiv area for the first time in weeks
Russian forces launched missile strikes Thursday on the Kyiv area and the northern Chernihiv region for the first time in weeks, in what a Ukrainian official said was revenge for the fierce resistance the Kremlin has faced after it invaded its neighbor
9:13AM ( 19 minutes ago )
UK crown court judge's sentencing broadcast for first time
A British judge has jailed for life a man who killed his grandfather in the first crown court sentencing to be televised in Britain
9:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Biden, Xi holding fifth talk of their presidencies Thursday
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are speaking amid rising tensions between their two nations
8:50AM ( 41 minutes ago )