by Paula Citron
It helps to have a cousin with a symphony orchestra. Eric Idle, everyone’s favourite Python, happens to be the cousin of Peter Oundjian, conductor of the Toronto Symphony, which is how the comic Ontario Oratorio he wrote with John Du Prez made its debut at the Luminato Festival.
The title, Not The Messiah (He’s A Very Naughty Boy) says it all. This piece is the send up of send ups and the packed house cheered throughout the performance. The oratorio is based on Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.
Idle, who is “baritone-ish” was joined by soprano Shannon Mercer, mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell, tenor Christopher Sieber, bass-baritone Theodore Berg and members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, in what was a romp through a dizzying array of musical styles. Du Prez’s music ranged from majestic biblical themes, to 1950s rock, country and western, spirituals – and of course, the Handel knock-off.
The text was clever and the evening was deliciously silly.
From Roy Thomson Hall, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.