Musical performance

Cantata Singers of Ottawa’s Christmas concert Dec. 8 presents a varied programme – fun for the entire family.

News from Capital Critics Circle


The Cantata Singers of Ottawa’s Christmas concert, “Family Christmas Spectacular”, takes place on December 18 at 3 pm in St. Joseph’s Church, 174 Wilbrod Street.

Artistic Director, Andrew McAnerney has designed a programme to put everyone in a Christmas mood for the week before Christmas.  And audience participation will be encouraged! The programme is designed to appeal to people of all ages, children, seniors and family groups.  It’s a perfect opportunity for grandparents, aunts, uncles to have that pre-Christmas outing with their grandchildren, nieces or nephews.  (FYI: Children under 12 are free.)

The CSO season brochure describes it as “Favourite Christmas music old and new – including sing-alongs, fanfares, descants and more!”  The concert programme will deliver on this promise.

Those attending will be hearing glorious Christmas music performed by the CSO and their guest artists: Ottawa Children’s Choir; harpist (and JUNO Award nominee) Caroline Léonardelli and the Cathedral Brass.


Anne of Green Gables: Orpheus offers a spirited production of this musical adaptation of the novel

Reviewed by Patrick Langston


Photo courtesy of Orpheus Musical Theatre.

Seems we just can’t get enough of Anne Shirley, that spunky young redhead who packs her overheated imagination and drama queen ways along with her clothes when she moves from a Nova Scotia orphanage to a PEI farm. This time around Anne is portrayed by Caroline Baldwin, and Orpheus couldn’t have asked for a better one in its production of the musical adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved novel. Baldwin’s a skilled vocalist, her delivery easy, full and nuanced. Her acting is on par with her singing: the actress is a woman, but the character we see is a young girl and one who’s endlessly interesting and entertaining as she learns about herself, family and community.

While Baldwin shines in this spirited production, her fellow cast members for the most part aren’t far behind. Gilbert Blythe is played with conviction by Storm Davis who transforms himself into a youngster smitten with Anne and who, while easily cowed, inevitably pops back up for another go at whatever he’s after. Davis needs to let loose more when singing: his vocal constraint works against his ability.


Adventures of a Black Girl: a fascinating retelling of Black Canadian History that feeds off the multiple elements of oral performance.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: NAC English Theatre.

This exciting coproduction of the NAC English Theatre/Centaur Theatre Company in association with the Montreal Black Theatre Workshop plunges us into a world where   choreographed singing bodies take over the stage and fill the space with a retelling of Black Canadian history.  Filtering the  main moments  into rituals of death fused with  Judeo-Christian and African origin, playwright and director  Djanet Sears has created an all-encompassing performance locating   the characters squarely in Canada but she creates an exciting dialectic by  correcting the ignorance the misconceptions, and the prejudices that  tainted white perceptions of  Black history in this country.


Next to Normal: Indie Women productions triumphs at Centrepoint!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: Mike Heffernan.  Skye MacDiarmid, Derek Eyamie, Jeremy Sanders.

Singer-actress Skye MacDiarmid, repeats her amazing portrayal as Diana, a bipolar mother suffering from a combination of affective disorders including depression and PTSD as the result of the early death of her son Gabe. MacDiarmid again takes over the stage this time in the Centrepoint studio, just as she did last year at the Gladstone theatre. Her strong acting skills, her dramatic voice, and her immediate burst of talent carries us off to a realm of theatre that makes the reality of the situation much easier to watch. The script is down to earth, the characters are down to earth, and we find great strength in watching this family drama, as it unfolds around a subject matter that is not easy to watch but that keeps us deeply involved.



News from Capital Critics Circle

NEWS RELEASE  from the NAC.  OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre, Canada’s home of the performing arts, lowered its flag in honour of Canadian opera great Jon Vickers today. Vickers was the winner of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts, and performed at the NAC on numerous occasions over the years. His portrait is in the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards hallway of the NAC in Ottawa.

“He was one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world of opera,” said Peter Herrndorf the President and CEO of the NAC. “We were honoured to have Jon perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra on many occasions over the years, his performances were always memorable.”jvmc

Photo from the collection of Sandy Steiglitz.Vickers with Maria Callas.

Vickers was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and made his Royal Opera debut in London in 1957. From 1960 onwards he performed regularly with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Over his lengthy career critics described Vickers’ voice as “towering” and “achingly beautiful.”

The National Arts Centre extends its condolences to Vickers’ family and friend

Remembering renowned Canadian tenor Jon Vickers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Ottawa, ON – July 13, 2015

Opera Lyra joins the operatic world in mourning the passing of renowned Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers.  Mr. Vickers was leading artist of his generation, singing major roles in the great opera houses of Europe and North America.  He blazed an artistic path for subsequent generations of Canadian artists to follow. 


Ottawa Fringe 2013. 6 Guitars

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

Actor Chase Padgett presents  six musicians – guitar players ranging from an 87-year-old blues musician to a 20 years old rocker. Chase Padgett is an excellent actor and his impersonations are generally very realistic, although there were some slips. The attempt to adopt a Spanish accent when portraying a Mexican character was not spot on. It ended up sounding more like an Indian than a Mexican one. A 20 year old rocker also ends up looking a lot younger due to characterization.

It is an original idea of how to tell the story about music, entertain and connect with the audience. The entertainment element is definitely impeccable, and Padgett’s very strong command of the stage helps as well. The audience loves it. They laugh and enjoy short and well executed guitar passages and admire the impersonations. 

Unfortunately, it stays at the entertainment level, without an attempt to go deeper, to explore the connections and the power of the music. It can be so much more than individuals falling in love in instruments and expressing that love through different genres. I would like Chase Padgett to dig a bit deeper and try to discover the magic behind the notes. Only that way  can he find that it is not only about main stream sell-outs: sex, sadness, cars and mess-up, but much, much more.

by Chase Padgett and Jay Hopkins, performed by Chase Padgett

Orlando FL.

Rajka Stefanovska

Trieste: An evocative atmosphere still in search of a story

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska



Photo:  Minelly Kamemura.

Trieste, Marie Brassard’s haunting performance, which premiered at Montreal’s Festival TransAmériques on February 25th and is inspired by the Italian city of the same name, is a performance that happens around a script. There are many beautiful aspects to the play: Brassard is a born story-teller – her voice is smooth and deep and she uses sound and images expertly to transport the audience to a city which seems more out of this world than of it. She sits on a chair under dim lighting and presents her travelogue of Trieste, the Italian city on the Adriatic Sea known for attracting artists such as James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, and Dante. Although not much to look at (by European standards, at least), the city is saturated with their spirits and leaves a lasting impression on those that visit. Brassard is an expert at creating a dream-like atmosphere and her skills truly shine in Trieste. It’s easy to get caught up in the seductive pull of her piece and forget that, while technically well done, the story is tstill a work in progress.


Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story. Jackie Richardson takes us into the realm of legend!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson as Willie Mae Thornton

This show is several things! First it’s a fabulous blues concert with drums, keyboard, guitar and the wondrous  Jackie Richardson, an internationally acclaimed jazz, gospel and blues singer in her own right. The sounds, the musical accompaniment by the three excellent musicians that fuse with Richardson’s voice, backing up her performance as a singer will send you out into musical heaven because such a powerful concert of this calibre is rare in Ottawa


Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story: Jackie Richardson connects physically with her Audience.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston


Reviewed Friday, April 26 for the Ottawa Citizen

Photo:Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson on stage.

There’s never any doubt in this blockbuster of a show about the late American blues dynamo Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton that the lady could handle herself. From slugging an abusive man when she was 14 to mopping the floor with another jerk when performing in a juke joint later in life, Thornton — played with conviction, grace and one mighty big voice by Canadian jazz icon Jackie Richardson — took guff from no one.

At the same time, she had great emotional generosity. That combination of taking no prisoners and a big heart, coupled with her instinctive artistic honesty, made Thornton that rare performer who connects almost physically with her audience……..

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LaTraviata in Concert. Opera Lyra sets higher standards

Reviewed by Jamie Portman


Photo: Eddie Hobson.Jonathan Estabrooks sings Baron Douphol in La Traviata by Verdi for Opera Lya

Concert performances of opera can often be problematic., and you can experience a severe let-down when the performers essentially drop anchor once they arrive on stage, disregard the drama and proceed on the assumption that their only job is to sing the music.

But Opera Lyra happily sets higher standards. They have trotted out that old war horse, La Traviata, and delivered a thrilling experience both musically and dramatically.



Past Reviews