Mocking Mulroney Musically: what could be more fun?
To give non-Canadians, and sadly some Canadians, some background about 'Mulroney - The Opera's anti-hero, Brian Mulroney sold Canada to the US; we still feel the aftershocks with his GST (goods and services tax, now up to 14% on almost everything in some provinces), his suing his own country, his bribery, patronage and Cabinet scandals, all reduxed in the current Conservative administration.
But like many tragedies, it makes great opera.
Done dirt-cheaply, and alas the lighting and make-up show it, but with excellent singers (those dubbing wife Mila, Pierre Trudeau, and the angel and devil on Brian's shoulder stand out), clear Canadian diction and lots of fun, especially the Ron and Nancy Reagan segment, and when the devil gives up in disgust when even he wouldn't stoop that low. Colin Mochrie's Jean Chretien turn was amusing, yet all too brief.
I've been a fan of the librettist Dan Redican since his 'Frantics' comedy troupe days, and I enjoy his perspective, particularly here of Mulroney's early days, where the seeds of his sociopathic greed were sown. Alexina Louie is a Canadian composer of the fin-de-siecle 'blat and dissonance' school, but her incidental music and openly copied operatic themes (Wagner in particular) are perfect for this. Louie and Redican's first foray into opera is even better: find and buy 'Burnt Toast'. It feels a bit abrupt at < 75 minutes, and irksome when they didn't follow history, but Dan Redican as the deus-ex-machinal fauxstorian tells the truth at the end, and I suppose best that they leave you wanting more. There was spontaneous applause at my show, which was well-attended (and don't miss the credits). Can 'John A. MacDonald, The Musical' or 'Trudeau, The Ring Cycle' be far behind? I await their next collaboration.
Totally worth your time and $10 (or $10.40 US). Only in Canada, you say? Pity.
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