reviewed by Paula Citron
The Children’s Crusade
Composed by R. Murray Schafer
Conducted by David Fallis
Directed by Tim Albery
Starring Jacob Abrahamse, Diego Matamoros, Maryem Tollar, Christopher Sawchyn, Scott Belluz, Sonya Gosse and David Houle with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and the Toronto Consort
At 153 Dufferin St. until Jun. 11.
100 singers, musicians and dancers, an abandoned factory, and a travelling audience on a 90 minute journey. This is the always imaginative world of Canadian site specific composer R. Murray Schafer.
The Children’s Crusade took place in France in 1212 where the child Stephen led thousands of orphans on a disastrous journey to liberate Jerusalem from the Saracens by love. Schafer’s libretto portrays Stephen’s encounter with the forces of both good and evil. It makes for riveting music theatre.
The attractive score is anchored in medieval and Middle East musical forms which underlie glorious choral passages, heart-felt arioso solos and compelling ensembles. Conductor David Fallis and his orchestra sprint from site to site while playing with élan. Twelve-year-old boy soprano Jacob Abrahamse does an astonishing job as Stephen.
Honours falls to director Tim Albery who marshalled the forces to pull this poignant and inventive production together. He does Schafer’s vision proud.
The Children’s Crusade continues at 153 Dufferin St. until tonight.