The program was created as a reaction to our experiences as recital performers and audience members. We come to this process with a great love for the art form, but also with a combined knowledge and experience as to its most frequent successes and failures. This is the beginning of that discussion as we test the waters of change.
Our goal is to blur the lines of artistic discipline and, in so doing, challenge the audience’s expectations. Simultaneously, we wish to entertain. Too often standard repertoire is shied away from, almost as if a hummable tune is a sign of lower art. We are looking for the one two punch: moments that test our preconceived ideas, followed immediately by the gratification of the familiar and beloved. Why can’t we have both? We are searching for something that works and that is distinctly us.
1-Who’s the “us” involved in Extensions of Us?
Lucia Cesaroni, Soprano
Italian-Canadian soprano Lucia Cesaroni has appeared with The Royal Philharmonic, The Ravinia Festival, The Aldeburgh Festival, Vancouver Opera, L’Opéra de Montréal and Pacific Opera Victoria.
If there were to be a ‘leader’ or group manager, Lucia would earn that designation. She and choreographer Jennifer Nichols conceived of this recital over several bourbon Manhattans at The Comrade in Leslieville. Both Lucia and Adrian will step past the role of vocalist and be integrated in to the choreographic elements of the evening.
Adrian Kramer, Tenor
Tenor, Adrian Kramer, has appeared in opera and concert with many excellent theatres across North America including the Canadian Opera Company, Chicago Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera and the Castleton Festival with Lorin Maazel. Adrian was a part of the earliest programming, development and marketing aspects and has continued in that role throughout the process.
Jennifer Nichols, Dancer/Choreographer
Jennifer Nichols, professional dancer and founder of The Extension Method™, owns and operates The Extension Room. Trained in ballet, she is also the founder of Hit and Run Productions and dances regularly with Opera Atelier. Jennifer has also recently been named Head Choreographer for the popular CW series, Reign.
Jennifer has been an integral part of the recital’s conception and development. She and Lucia worked hand in hand to make the recital a reality. Jennifer has been part of the programming, development and marketing of the recital. Once inside the studio she will take on the role of choreographer and movement leader, as well as dancer.
Justin De Bernardi, Dancer/Choreographer
Justin De Bernardi is one of North America’s newest and upcoming choreographers. A recent graduate from the Performance Dance program at Ryerson University and recipient of the Theatre Dance Award, De Bernardi is an independent dance artist currently residing in Toronto, ON. He is currently teaching and choreographing with companies, dance studios and conventions across Canada and the United States.
Justin, Jennifer, Adrian and Lucia will mirror each other throughout the show and highlight a character’s idea or emotion, an underlying theme and bridge the pieces together.
Maika’i Nash, Pianist
Hawaiian pianist, Maika’i Nash is a sought-after pianist coach & pianist across North America. He is a coach at the University of Toronto and works with a number of opera and dance companies in Toronto. Maika’i is also excited to make his Carnegie Hall debut with soprano, Audrey Luna in January, 2015.
Mai is the orchestra, the palette creator and the support upon which the musical and theatrical elements of the recital rest. His playing and his person will be intertwined in to the movement and multi media elements of the show.
2- Who was the driver/organizer bringing the team together? Is there an artistic director / someone in charge? Or is it a collective creation?
The program was borne out of Lucia and Jenn’s desire to collaborate and explore the recital format. But the musical chairs had already begun: Adrian and Lucia wanted to sing Traviata and Mascagni together , Mai and Lucia had been exploring the Poulenc and Jenn and Justin are regular partners. Everyone is represented in this concert through their choices of repertoire, individual musical aesthetic, years of experience and differing vantages as pianist, dancer and singer. All members of the team have absorbed multiple roles as performers, programmers, organizers, administrators and promoters.
3- The poster lists “Mascagni, Verdi, Part, Stravinsky, Bernstein, Poulenc, Canzoni Napoletane”. What’s the music you’re performing?
Son pochi fiori – from L’Amico Fritz by Mascagni
The Cherry Duet – from L’Amico Fritz by Mascagni
Traumerei – by Schumann
Un di felice – from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
È strano…Ah fors’e` lui…Sempre libera! – from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
De miei bollenti spiriti – from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Rejoice, beloved – from The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky
Variations for the Healing of Arinushka – by Avro Part
La Dame de Monte Carlo – by Francis Poulenc
La Séparation – Nocturne in F by Mikhail Glinka
Dance at the Gym – from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein
One hand one heart – from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein
Maria – from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein
Tonight – from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein
4-It’s more than a recital. You’re working in multiple media (music & words with movement & projections). Could you say more about the idioms you’re likely to be working in on this occasion?
Each of us bring key themes and ideas which have driven our repertoire choices and are, well, extensions of us! This program, the images projected at climactic points, the choreography all came out of our desire to build on these themes, teasing out new meaning through movement and in so doing, re-examining the singer-pianist recital format itself…The immigrant experience in Canada, the dynamic tension between a couple… These themes will be the driving force for the slide projections which will serve to colour the moments of transition between musical numbers. We are striving for a fluid product. One that flows from music to dance to projection seamlessly, bringing an element of opera’s Gesamtkunstwerk to a recital.
Just as the musical selections are meant to be an extension of the musicians performing them, the movement aspects are meant to function as personal expression for the dancers. They are an extension of the themes, key phrases, emotional climaxes and private admission of the singers and their characters.
5- Is this a one of a kind or do you see other performances of this sort in our future?
We are hoping that this is the beginning of something bigger than a single evening’s event. Future dates are already being proposed. For now, the most exciting part is that a beautiful program has emerged and we are yet to assemble as a group in the wonderful space of the Extension Room. It is then and there that the organic process of the program’s creation will begin in earnest. Thus far we have a great deal of conceptualization, theory, musical preparation and enthusiasm, but the workshop and group experimentation is still to come!
Singing. Dancing. Good Tunes.
Surtitles & Beer.
What more do you need?
Extensions of Us:
Lucia Cesaroni, Adrian Kramer, Jennifer Nichols,
Justin De Bernardi, Maika’I Nash.
The Extension Room
30 Eastern Avenue, Toronto
November 13 @ 8pm
Tickets: Thirty Dollars-General, Twenty Dollars-Students
Available @ luciacesaroni.com /extensionroom.com