Un petit taste of France coming to city

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on January 14, 2013
Jennifer Matthews, left, Marta Croll-Baehre, middle, and her sister Emma, discuss A Taste of France, an evening of French cabaret, opera and song, with english subtitles, being put of by the Bays of Islands Musical Arts at the Arts and Culture Centre on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Geraldine Brophy

CORNER BROOK — There are many pinches and dabs of French heritage in western Newfoundland, but it’s time Corner Brook has A Taste of France.

The evening of French cabaret, opera and song is the second such event to explore the classical music of some far reaches of the world hosted by the Bay of Islands Musical Arts. Last year, it was A Taste of Italy that captivated the local audience starving to expand its horizons artistically.

Jennifer Matthews, artistic director and pianist, said there was no particular reason why the french genre was chosen, just the tour through the world musically is making its stop in France this year. Next time, it will be onward to another European destination with a new flavour.

“There hasn’t been a lot of opportunities outside of the Newfoundland culture vein, and there are so many young people studying voice, piano and violin trying to bring more to the community,” Matthews said. “They need a place to really exhibit their talents, and for people to understand what they do.”

The event will feature a French cabaret, complete with a cancan dance number — fishnet stockings and all. The number will be directed by Amy Andrews and will include sisters Emma and Marta Croll-Baehre.

The high-energy and physically demanding dance is performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats and black stockings. The main aspect of the numbers is the lifting and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and provocative body movements.

The young women have been part of an ensemble learning the dance and are confident they will have it down by Saturday’s special event at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre.

The sisters are not nervous about what was, and still is sometimes, perceived as an erotic and inappropriate routine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are just excited about showcasing another piece of the world’s art and culture.

“It is more fun, especially because we are being playgirls,” Emma said. “And, if it’s not completely dead-on, I’m sure nobody will care.”

The Croll-Baehre’s will also be singing a duet at the event and are also members of the Bay of Islands Musical Art Chorus who will be performing. They recognize the opportunity they have been afforded by participating in such a unique event.

“I think it is very exciting to be introduced to a whole different era of music,” Marta said. “Personally, I love it.”

Throughout the evening there will be many tastes of France displayed by local singers and musicians, including Tara Manuel and a puppet performing in the French cabaret vein. However, a pair of special guest opera singers will also be featured — Toronto’s Danielle Dudycha and Montreal’s Marc-Antoine d’Aragon.

Of course, it would not really be a taste of France if it were only just performances throughout the evening. The event will be spiced up avec champagne and Bonbons.

Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you could be sampling, it always sounds better in French. And, there will be English subtitles provided for the show, just maybe not at the food table.

Get your taste of France’s classical evening of music Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. at the Arts and Culture Centre. Tickets can be obtained at the venue or online in advance.