I recently had the pleasure of experiencing House of Dreams, a musical presented by Tafelmusik, the acclaimed baroque orchestra from Toronto, Canada. Who knew there were such things as baroque musicals?
The evening’s concert is a journey to five 18th century European cities, where music was performed in private homes surrounded by fine art works. The first visit is to Handel’s London home, where he had amassed at least 80 paintings and 64 engravings, including works by Watteau, Canaletto and Rembrandt. (Handel collected art! But of course…..) We next travel to Venice, where Joseph Smith, a merchant banker, had a home filled with books, musical instruments, and art. His home was said to be “….the most perfect union of all the sciences and all the arts.” Smith was an agent for Canaletto, and owned Vermeer’s The Music Lesson.
The musical also visits the Delft home of Jacob Dissius, a Dutch bookbinder, who happened to own 21 (twenty-one!) Vermeer paintings.
Visits to the Palais-Royal, in Paris, and the Bose family home in Leipzig, complete the musical.
House of Dreams is an exciting production. It’s multidiscipline, multi-genre art at its finest. There is the visual pleasure of the staging, along with the projected art reproductions (note the ‘gilded’ frame), combined with an excellent narrator/interpreter. At its base is, of course, is superb musicianship, played on period instruments. Not only did the violinists produce the most exquisite sounds, but they also moved about the stage, in graceful choreographed patterns.
House of Dreams successfully integrates fine art with musical story-telling. Now if only it had the same exposure as Jersey Boys!