In review: Extensions of UsReview
a cool Thursday night I trotted down to the Extension Room at 30 Eastern Avenue for Extensions of Us, featuring Lucia Cesaroni, Adrian Kramer, Jennifer Nichols and Justin De Bernardi with Maika’i Nash on piano. I walked into the jam-packed modern space at the Extension Room to white painted brick walls, a vintage sign on the back wall, chandeliers, a few cruiser tables, an affordable bar, and a banquet spread worthy of a shout out from my tummy (more of us should be doing this at recitals).
Actually, that being said, this was less a recital than a piece of Lyrical Theatre of the kind that turns my crank. The music selected played to the strengths of all involved and they shared with us some beautiful art.
Cesaroni’s dark lyric soprano sailed through the unconventional room with ease. Her top range as thrilling as ever and her charisma was palpable. Every entrance demands your attention and her skill at relating to an audience in an intimate setting is something to admire. For some singers the divide from the audience is a large part of their artistic development, not so with Lucia. I felt at times I was in her living room or having a 90s style sleepover complete with that board game where you call potential boyfriends.
It was really nice to hear Adrian sing some full long lines. I saw him last tearing it up for Opera 5 in the Hahn/Offenbach double-bill which was difficult for different reasons. Here we get more of his lyrical line and hearing his tone opening up over the top is exciting. One piece that stood out for me was “Mamma”. Kramer channelled an Italian balladeer and I felt like I may have been at a trattoria witnessing an enamoured, handsome man breaking out into song to “peacock” for his beloved.
The choreography by Jennifer Nichols was superbly danced by her and Justin De Bernardi. A lyric contemporary styling that blooms from a naturalistic, contemporary posture. An exploration of the human physique that played with physical contact, proximity, and fluctuations between smooth lines and sharp angles.
Maka’i Nash, as always, is a top drawer orchestra who actually made me like Schumann piano for a change.
I did get the feeling that this is a work in progress at times - a work I’m excited to see develop. There were some great moments of incorporating the dancers and singers. I’d like to see that developed as a more thorough concept. That being said, this is exactly the kind of event Toronto needs a tonne more of. A lovely evening of entertainment with beautiful people doing beautiful things.
If this shows up in another incarnation I strongly urge all of Toronto to go. You will not be disappointed.