Partying and puppets
Another birthday and another week of fine dining: Canadian on Monday, Spanish on Wednesday, Mexican on Friday, and Italian on Saturday. The diet starts next week! Highlights included Barcelona-inspired cocktails, fresh guacamole (smashed right in front of our eyes with an Aztec pestle and mortar) and caramel-covered churros. Plus, my colleagues treated me to a delicious chocolate cake. Clearly it didn’t take them long to discover the way to my heart!
For our cultural feast, we headed to The Nightingale and Other Short Fables with the Canadian Opera Company. What an experience! The brainchild of Quebecois director Robert Lepage, it blends an array of song cycles and instrumental works by the twentieth-century Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. The orchestra sit on stage, their pit now a pool of water. First, mesmerising shadow hand puppets depict folktales and nonsense songs: kittens catching mice, peasants gathering riches, a dove in flight. Then, acrobats and their silhouettes illustrate The Fox, in which the cockerel calls upon his friends the cat and the goat to save him from the crafty and hungry fox. Finally, the singers take to the water with stunning Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese puppetry as they recount the tale of the nightingale, whose beautiful music entrances the Emperor of China and ultimately saves him from death. Who would have thought that these diverse tales, bold techniques and vibrant costumes – from so many different countries and seemingly so incongruous – could result in such a cohesive and striking production?
One final birthday-related thought: in the UK, a mid-April birthday is associated with the start of Spring, perhaps some sunshine, daffodils, and generally an increase in warmth. This week in Toronto, it snowed, and we were treated to our first experience of freezing rain. We love our snowboots, but perhaps it’s time for some warmer weather now!