When I was a child, I used to play with the remnants of my violin teacher’s budget, and try and wrap it around a keyboard with some success. Partly this was for nostalgia’s sake, and partly it was because I wanted to practice something. This memory applies also to the scenario, as these were some of the elements which led a Toronto composer, a financial industry worker who left academia to become a writer and a young performer with an eye for big picture, all of whom went on to collaborate on an ambitious undertaking.
The result is Mozart’s Requiem, an opera-opera that brings together seven composers and a dozen songwriters from across the country to create a bookended performance with a curtain of vintage décor, which is a novel solution to something that could be easily mapped out on paper. The tale focuses on the career of a violinist, played by a young Canadian performer.
Mozart’s Requiem was the debut opera by one of the most seminal composer-performers, and the most important in the history of music. This opera-opera combines a historical story with a contemporary love story, in addition to a full-length setting. Weaves together an exceptional cast of composers from Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, and Alberta, and a talented indie artist. This project ties it all together, exploring the music, the production, and making it real. It is the result of a collaboration of collaborators who knew each other and were with each other in a very unique way. They trust each other, and a unit emerges, in a sense, like a musical version of a family.
If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of a good opera, or the inspiration behind such a monumental work, Mozart’s Requiem provides them. It delves into the boundaries of the opera, performing it in a manner that is both easy and challenging for the audience. Opening in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, under the direction of Christopher Litton, the opera combines eight hours of music with six songs with the depth and range of a book. The cast ranges from a young bass, to a Grand Duke-based maitre d’, to a dance-pop singer who impresses even now as a professional.
The opera reveals the classical influences, and the opera is engaging. It is action-based, with the opera telling a chronological story that is unlike many operas or movies, but fills in essential gaps in what we’ve learned about the life of the man who composed it. He had a tenuous relationship with the composer of the second act, Salieri. The opera considers the psychology of the composers, and helps us connect with Mozart’s own symphonic masterpieces, which deal with questions of the soul and emotions. It is directed by Peter Sellars, who explored the role of Shakespeare, the classic storyteller, in the movie Shakespeare in Love and staged The Adoration of the Magi. This opera explores Mozart’s musical vision, and considers his genius. It is a riveting musical experience, not to be missed.