The Gull, the Raccoon, and the Last Maple
Online Premiere: February 17, 2022 at 8pm ET
Composed by Abigail Richardson-Schulte
Story and text by Alexis Diamond
Commissioned by Tafelmusik
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
Directed by Elisa Citterio
Amanda Cordner Narrator
Jordan Laffrenier Stage Director
Alyssa Martin Assistant Director
Glenn Davidson Set Designer
Fox Procenko Lighting Designer
Jennifer Goodman Costume Designer
mancreature is an island, entire of itself; every mancreature is a piece of the continent.
—John Donne, baroque poet
A contemporary fable for baroque orchestra and narrator, The Gull, the Raccoon, and the Last Maple pits two of Nature’s most persistent scavengers against each other as they engage in a battle of wits over the Last Maple and the very last slip of dry land not yet claimed by the encroaching floods. As the swirling waters rise and drenching storms threaten, the three must combine forces, harnessing their resourcefulness and adaptability—or perish.
A reflection on climate change, this fable for all ages is an allegory for the necessity of collective action in the face of our global crisis.
The Gull, the Raccoon and the Last Maple features four characters played by just one actor. Each character has their own theme and specific lead instrument as their musical voice. The Last Maple, the oldest and slowest character, is portrayed by the harpsichord. The quirky Gull is represented by the woodwinds, primarily the first oboe, while the cunning Raccoon is depicted by the strings, with solos for violin and cello. Occasionally a neutral fourth character appears to narrate the story, accompanied by the same theme and ensemble playing. As these characters encounter and confront each other, their respective themes grow and change. Baroque aficionados may also enjoy picking out the six substantial musical quotes in the piece, hinted at in the text.
Meet the Creative Team
Abigail Richardson-Schulte, composer
Composer Abigail Richardson-Schulte was born in Oxford, England, and moved to Canada as a child. Ironically, she was diagnosed incurably deaf at five years old, but, upon moving to Canada her hearing was fully intact within months. Her music has been commissioned and performed by major orchestras, presenters, music festivals and broadcasters including the Festival Présences of Paris. Abigail won first at the prestigious UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers with broadcasts in 35 countries. She won the CBC Karen Kieser Prize, Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Opera, Quenten Doolittle Award, CMC Prairie Region Award and the City of Hamilton Arts Award. Abigail has been Affiliate Composer with the TSO and curated for their New Creations Festival. In 2012, she wrote a piece on the classic Canadian story, “The Hockey Sweater” by Roch Carrier, in the country’s first triple co-commission by the TSO, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. This orchestral “hit” has had over 150 performances in Canada and 14 performances in France. A recording of the work has been released on the Centrediscs label in both French and English with Roch Carrier and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Other notable orchestral works include: a WWI memorial piece, “Song of the Poets”, with choir and orchestra for NACO’s UK tour, and a complete children’s orchestra concert of Dennis Lee’s “Alligator Pie”. Abigail has a busy schedule as a composer, teaches composition at the University of Toronto, and is in her ninth year as Composer-in-Residence with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alexis Diamond is an anglophone theatre artist, librettist, lyricist, translator, dramaturg and theatre curator working on both sides of Montréal’s linguistic divide. Her award-winning plays, operas and translations for audiences of all ages have been presented across Canada, in the U.S. and in Europe. Her translation of Pascal Brullemans’ plays for young audiences, Amaryllis and Little Witch (Playwrights Canada Press), was shortlisted for the 2020 Governor General’s Award. Perfect Screw (Tapestry New Opera), the mid-length opera created with Abigail Richardson-Schulte, received a Dora nomination in 2009.
Other recent family-friendly musical works include Making Light (2018), also with Richardson-Schulte,for Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Zoom-Boom-Boom (2009), an electroacoustic piece for very young audiences created with Stephanie Moore for Jeunesses Musicales Canada; the widely-toured opera Get Stuffed! (2008), with Richard Payne, for Tapestry/Words in Motion; Enid and the Swans (2005), with James Rolfe, an operatic adaptation of “The Ugly Duckling,” for Soundstreams/Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus. Since 2011, Alexis has translated more than a dozen concert-plays for Jeunesses Musicales Canada.
Alexis has a B.A. Honours in English and Creative Writing from Concordia University and an M.A. in English Literature from the Université de Montréal.
Elisa Citterio, Music Director, Tafelmusik
The brilliant violinist Elisa Citterio joined Tafelmusik as Music Director in 2017. In her native Italy she divided her artistic life between orchestral work and an intense schedule as a chamber musician. She has recorded and toured, often as leader, with such ensembles as Dolce & Tempesta, Europa Galante, Accademia Bizantina, Accordone, Concerto Italiano, Zefiro, La Venexiana, La Risonanza, Ensemble 415, Il Giardino Armonico, and Balthasar-Neumann Choir & Ensemble (Thomas Hengelbrock). From 2004 to 2017 she was a member of the Orchestra del Teatro della Scala di Milano.
Elisa comes from a musical family, including her composer mother and brother,and graduated with highest honours in violin and viola from L. Marenzio Conservatory in her hometown of Brescia. Post-graduate work included baroque violin studies with Enrico Onofri, Luigi Mangiocavallo, and Chiara Banchini. Her discography includes more than 35 recordings of Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Corelli, Monteverdi, and Haydn.
Amanda Cordner—actress, clown, dancer, singer, theatre creator, playwright and filmmaker— graduated from York University with a BFA in Theatre and has not looked back. Her play Body So Fluorescent (co created with David Di Giovanni) debuted at Summerworks, (awards for Outstanding Production, Play, and Direction) and will be remounted in 2022 at the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary. Amanda won the Jon Kaplan Spotlight Award for Outstanding Performance and was one of NOW magazine’s Top Ten Theatre Artists of 2018. She continues to partner with independent theatre companies and performance artists. As a television performer, Amanda has garnered enthusiastic reviews for her breakthrough performance as 7ven in the hit CBC/HBOMax television series SORT OF. She is also featured on Slo Pitch, The Expanse, The Baroness von Sketch Show, and Odd Squad. As an audio book storyteller-you can hear her in The Beguiling (Zsuzsi Gartner). Amanda lives in Toronto and loves to dance.
Jordan Laffrenier, stage director
Jordan Laffrenier is an award-winning director, producer, playwright, dramaturg and educator. He is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Prime Mover Theatre Company, the Artistic Producer of Theatre Sheridan and the Co-Program Coordinator of Musical Theatre Performance at Sheridan College.
He has held many musical theatre development roles in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto, including Amélie on Broadway, Paradise Square/ Hard Times (Berkeley Repertory Theatre California), Sousatska (Tiberius Entertainment) and as co-dramaturg of Cahoot’s Theatre Company’s flagship HotHouse Program.
As the founding Artistic Director of Then They Fight Theatre, a dramaturgically based theatre company dedicated to developing new work from the initial spark of an idea into a fully realized production. Through Then They Fight, Jordan has produced work that has continued development with Cahoots, Factory, Soulpepper and more. Two of the shows that were incubated through Then They Fight Theatre won Dora Awards this year.
He is an advocate of theatre that supports the community on and off stage and has partnered theatre productions directly with local charities such as The Mental Health Coalition in Hamilton and Vibe Arts (where he is an artist mentor).
Richardson-Schulte by Marta Hewson • Diamond by Ron Diamond • Citterio by Dan Banko • Cordner by Dahlia Katz • Laffrenier by Sandro Pehar
Q&A with the Creative Team
Our latest blog post features a Q&A with the creators of this timely and optimistic digital concert, about working with Tafelmusik, creating the characters, and the ways we can all contribute to a healthier future for our planet. Read Now
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