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Burnt Toast: 8 Mini Comic Operas About Love.

Burnt Toast: 8 Mini Comic Operas About Love

Rhombus Media/marblemedia; 50 minutes

Music by Alexina Louie, libretto by Dan Redican

The Esprit Orchestra, Alex Pauk, conductor. Larry Weinstein, director.

Starring Dan Redican, Jean Stilwell, Shannon Mercer, Paul Gross, Jessica Holmes, Scott Thompson, Philip Akin, Leah Pinsent, Colm Feore, Bob Martin, Liane Balaban, Diane Fabian, Mark Breslin, David Alpay, Sarah Manninen, Kristin Lehman, Paul O'Sulllivan, Colin Mochrie, Debra McGrath, Cathy Jones, Joel Katz, Maurice Dean Wint Maurice Dean Wint (born Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom) is a Canadian actor. His roles include:
  • Sgt. Luther Robinson in the cult musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • as John Terrence Cable/RoboCable
  • Cube (1997) as Quentin the Cop
, Martin Houtman, Zorana Sadiq, Mark McKinney, Barbara Hannigan and Sean Cullen

With the voices of Jean Stilwell, Shannon Mercer, Michael Colvin, Krisztina Szabo, Martin Houtman, Peter McGillivray, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Benjamin Butterfield, Joel Katz, Zoran Sadiq, Russell Braun, Ann Monoyios, Doug MacNaughton and Barbara Hannigan How can this original made-for-DVD comic opera miss, with a cast of some of Canada's greatest actors and singers involved in the project? The inspiration for Burnt Toast was the wildly successful 1997 Louie/Redican five-minute opera, Toothpaste, in which a marriage breaks up over the woman's irritating habit of not replacing the toothpaste cap. (The characters of Constance and Trevor from Toothpaste also appear in Burnt Toast.) The new opera, made up of eight self-contained vignettes, describes the stages of love. The through-line is Redican himself as a weird, silent professor who uses Wonderbread and a toaster as a metaphor for what we are about to see in each mini-opera. For example, in "Stage 1: Attraction," he uses a magnet to pick up a piece of bread. As human relationships crumble, the toast starts to burn.


Redican's libretto is very clever, even cynical. For example, in "Stage 4: Marriage," the handsome young groom promises to "drink, fart and snore snore (snor)
1. rough, noisy breathing during sleep, due to vibration of the uvula and soft palate.

2. to produce such sounds during sleep.

" while the pretty bride declares her love by swearing she will turn the kids against the husband, all to shimmering shim·mer  
intr.v. shim·mered, shim·mer·ing, shim·mers
1. To shine with a subdued flickering light. See Synonyms at flash.

, neo-Romantic music.

The glory of the piece is Louie's score, which manages to quote from Lucia di Lammermoor Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico, or tragic opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvatore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor. It is one of the leading bel canto operas. , Die Zauberflote and Tristan und Isolde Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde) is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg.  while sounding completely unique. She has matched each vignette with a homage to an opera style. For example, the courtroom scene of "Stage 7: Disintegration" is high Baroque, with the court stenographer An individual who records court proceedings either in shorthand or through the use of a paper-punching device.

A court stenographer is an officer of the court and is generally considered to be a state or public official.
 mimicking playing a harpsichord harpsichord, stringed musical instrument played from a keyboard. Its strings, two or more to a note, are plucked by quills or jacks. The harpsichord originated in the 14th cent. and by the 16th cent. Venice was the center of its manufacture.  and all the players letting fly with florid florid /flor·id/ (flor´id)
1. in full bloom; occurring in fully developed form.

2. having a bright red color.

Of a bright red or ruddy color.
 ornamentation ornamentation

In music, the addition of notes for expressive and aesthetic purposes. For example, a long note may be ornamented by repetition or by alternation with a neighboring note (“trill”); a skip to a nonadjacent note can be filled in with the intervening
. (The woman, played by Cathy Jones and sung by soprano Ann Monoyios, is acquitted by the all-female jury for killing her husband who kept leaving the toilet seat up.) What Louie proves is that she can write in any style and mood, and do it brilliantly.

The film is gorgeously shot on location, with wonderfully inventive camera angles that highlight the music and text while not getting in the way. The costumes are perfect for each character. Perhaps the best moment among many is Colin Mochrie's anti-wife tirade (voiced by baritone Russell Braun) in "Stage 6: Perseverance." As Mochrie rampages through the garden of his suburban bungalow, taking out his anger on the leaf-blower and hedge-trimmer, Braun tears through Louie's version of The Queen of the Night's aria that requires all kinds of vocal effects from falsetto falsetto (fôlsĕt`tō) [Ital.,=diminutive of false], high-pitched, unnatural tones above the normal register of the male voice, produced, according to some theories, by the vibration of only the edges of the larynx.  to growling. It is hilarious.

Burnt Toast will be broadcast on CBC-TV's Opening Night on Feb. 9.
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Author:Citron, Paula
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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