Tuesday, June 30, 2009

News and Notes to begin the month of July

As a new month is set to get underway, I find myself with a wealth of things to write about, from Shaw festival performances to Stratford performances upcoming to lots of sad news from the world of entertainment over the past week. So rather than present everything here in one long entry, I will be breaking the information up over the next couple of weeks while I enjoy a little bit of vacation time.

I spent the past weekend catching three performances at the Shaw Festival, my first of the season. I will have more to say on them in early July when I begin my annual summer theatre reviews, but suffice it to say, Sunday in the Park with George, Born Yesterday and from Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30, Brief Encounters, provided a varied palette of theatrical experiences over two days. Overall, I enjoyed them, but there are problems. More on that next month. This coming weekend, I take an extended stay in Stratford to catch my first shows there this season, including Three Sisters, Bartholomew Fair, Julius Caesar, Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth. Nothing like some light theatrical entertainment for a summer weekend, right? I am looking forward to getting back to Stratford again; it is truly one of the most wonderful places in the world to visit for an extended stay.

Last week, of course, we heard of the loss in one day of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. The world is still coming to grips with the loss of these two disparate entertainers, as am I, and I will present my thoughts on the loss next week, including - in Michael Jackson's case - a curious parallel in the world of classical music I have been thinking about the last few days. But I am getting ahead of myself. There was another unusal piece of news last week totally overshadowed by the passing of Jackson and Fawcett.

In my June newsletter, FINEMUSIC NEWS, which you can subscribe to by writing to me at music@vaxxine.com and asking to be added to the mailing list, I included in my upcoming events listings the Big Event coming up next week at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake: a performance by Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman. Measha would appear in a program titled An Enchanted Evening along with pianis Michael Kaeshammer and Broadway performer Marcus Nance, performing music from the Shaw mandate - essentially music from the first half of the last century - under the stars on the grounds of historic Fort George. I no sooner went to press with the newsletter and I received word from Shaw the performance has had to be rescheduled from July 12th to August 9th.

The reason is astounding when you think about it: Measha underwent emergency open-heart surgery on June 10th! According to the press release Shaw sent out last week, Measha began experiencing acute pressure in her throat, and was rushed by ambulance to a Toronto hospital where she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and hypertension and then released. The next day proved no better: she reported to her family doctor of continued pains in her chest and she was immediately sent back to hospital. Further tests revealed she had a dissection in her aorta and doctors immediately performed open-heart surgery to repair it. Apparently she is now recovering and is doing quite well, all things considered. Needless to say, many performances had to be cancelled, including the Shaw date next week, but I am amazed she will be back performing as soon as August 9th following open-heart surgery just last month!

If you have tickets to the July 12th performance, you have likely already been contacted by the Shaw Festival box office about exchanging your tickets for the August 9th performance. If not, you can contact them directly at 1-800-511-7429.

I saw Measha Brueggergosman perform with Chorus Niagara a few seasons back at the Lake Street Amouries in a performance of Verdi's Requiem and even then, she commanded the stage like few others could. I would imagine this outdoor performance will be no different, and I also suspect a rousing standing ovation will be in order to celebrate her return to the stage after this recent setback.

Just think about it, though. Canada has begun to be a world leader in world-class classically-trained singers, and two of our biggest names have had serious medical issues: Ben Heppner and now Measha Brueggergosman. It just goes to show they are human just like the rest of us, and indeed, their careers carry more responsibility than you might think. It is wise when they step back from the stage and take the time to recover, rather than risk their careers. Of course, with Measha she really didn't have much choice in the matter.

Let's wish Measha a swift and full recovery and look forward to a triumphant return on August 9th. What was a Big Event will now be THE musical event of the summer!

June 30th, 2009.

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