Music, paintings, architecture and history are in the house when Toronto's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra performs its multimedia work House of Dreams at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Penn State's Schwab Auditorium.
House of Dreams, created by Tafelmusik double bass player Alison Mackay, allows audiences to venture through old European homes where works by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Marin Marais and other composers were played amid paintings by the likes of Johannes Vermeer, Canaletto and Antoine Watteau.
Using exquisite musicianship, gorgeous projected images and inviting narration, Tafelmusik guides concertgoers on a sensuous journey.
Tickets are still available for the April 16 performance.
"House of Dreams is built around five historic houses in five European cities: London, Paris, Delft, Venice and Leipzig. In part, it's an exploration of the role music played in domestic life in the 17th and 18th centuries," writes composer and journalist Colin Eatcock for The (Toronto) Globe and Mail. "But these five houses also had significance in the realm of visual art—and this is where the big-screen projections come in."
Several features of the Venetian residence figure into the House of Dreams set, including the ornate frame surrounding the screen on which photos of the paintings and home interiors are projected during the concert.
"The orchestra performs everything from memory, allowing those players not tied to the floor by their instruments to circulate around the stage," observes Toronto Star entertainment reporter John Terauds. "Thanks to violinist (and music director) Jeanne Lamon's leadership and the extra focus needed to play by heart, the music-making was suffused with particularly deep and vibrant colors."
Actor Blair Williams, speaking from memory of a script written by Mackay, narrates the production.
"He set the scene at each destination, putting the images and music into historical context using short, engaging historical references that also integrated seamlessly into a bigger picture," Terauds writes.
Hear a Center for the Performing Arts interview with Mackay.
Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Mackay, is offered in Schwab one hour before Tuesday's Tafelmusik performance and is free for ticket holders.
Tafelmusik performs at Penn State again Thursday when it provides the live music for Opera Atelier's The Magic Flute at Eisenhower Auditorium.