The New & Avant-garde Music Store

Three Cities in the Life of Dr Norman Bethune Tim Brady

Le baryton Michael Donovan met sa technique et sa voix impeccables au service de cet opus très original. SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, Canada

… this thoroughly composed opera revealed its beauty for my ears. Vital, Netherlands

This chamber opera for voice, electric guitar, piano, percussion, saxophones, string quartet and tape has been performed in Montréal (2003) and Toronto (2005). It tells the life of the Canadian doctor and humanitarian Norman Bethune (1890-1939).

Interweaving extracts from Bethune’s own letters with poetry of the 1930s, Three Cities in the Life of Dr. Norman Bethune explores the psychological and social elements that propelled Bethune to leave his comfortable life in Montréal to fight with the Republican International Brigade in Spain in 1936, and finally to join the Chinese Army in early 1938. The work follows Bethune through three cities over the course of 5 years in one of the most turbulent eras of 20th century history as he seeks to make sense of the world, to fight for what he believes in, and to confront his own mortality.

Three Cities in the Life of Dr Norman Bethune

Tim Brady

Some recommended items

In the press

  • Wayne Gooding, Opera Canada, no. XLVIII, October 1, 2007
  • Paul Bijlsma, Phosphor, no. 120, August 1, 2006
  • Gabriel Bélanger, SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, no. 13:2, May 1, 2006
    Le baryton Michael Donovan met sa technique et sa voix impeccables au service de cet opus très original.
  • Nicola Catalano, Blow Up, no. 95, April 1, 2006
  • Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 515, March 3, 2006
    … this thoroughly composed opera revealed its beauty for my ears.
  • Réjean Beaucage, Voir, February 2, 2006
    Bradyworks enrobe le monologue d’une musique puissante qui peut faire songer par moments au Steve Reich récent.

Review

Wayne Gooding, Opera Canada, no. XLVIII, October 1, 2007

Review

Paul Bijlsma, Phosphor, no. 120, August 1, 2006

Norman Bethune was one of North America’s most prominent lung surgeans in Montréal, before he started to fight with the Republican International Brigade in Spain in 1936. Two years later he became a member of Mao Tse Tung’s Communist 8th Army. This album has been dedicated to this man, as Tim Brady used extracts from his letters and poetry of the 1930’s to come up with a modern opera. Michael Donovan’s baritone plays an important role, reciting the long texts, supported by lively piano play and an orchestra.

Critique

Gabriel Bélanger, SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, no. 13:2, May 1, 2006

Le compositeur et guitariste canadien Tim Brady évoque à travers cet opéra hybride, qui allie la voix et l’électroacoustique aux instruments classiques, les dernières années de la vie du médecin humanitaire Norman Bethune qui a œuvré en Chine au début du 20e siècle. Commandée par la Société Radio-Canada en 2002, l’œuvre n’a été présentée que trois fois à ce jour. Le baryton Michael Donovan met sa technique et sa voix impeccables au service de cet opus très original.

Le baryton Michael Donovan met sa technique et sa voix impeccables au service de cet opus très original.

Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 515, March 3, 2006

This cd introduces the newest work of canadian composer Tim Brady, played by his ensemble Bradyworks and baritone Michael Donovan. It is a one-act chamber opera written for voice, electric guitar, piano, percussion, saxophones, string quartet and tape. The work is inspired on the life and work of Norman Bethune (1890-1939) who was a talented surgeon and medical inventor who left his comfortable life in Montréal to fight with the Republican International Brigade in Spain in 1936, and finally to join the Chinese Army in early 1938. For this composition Brady used writings of Bethune that are sung by baritone Donovan. The opera has three parts, each one representing a phase of the life of Bethune: Montréal, Madrid and Chin Ch’a Chi. Evidently the texts play a central role in this work and because of that the voice of Donovan also. The composition and the instrumentation fulfill a serving role in evoking Bethune’s life through the texts. Brady makes good use of the different instruments from the ensemble. It’s a very colorful work and very well arranged and performed. And the composition is a successful dramatization of the story. Track eight for instance is almost rock-music reminding of the work of Louis Andriessen. Through tape Brady introduces sound-material that evokes the different geographical locations. For my ears this is most apparent in the part that tells of Bethune’s chinese adventures. I needed repeated listening before this opera began to talk to me. But in the end this thoroughly composed opera revealed its beauty for my ears.

… this thoroughly composed opera revealed its beauty for my ears.

Critique

Réjean Beaucage, Voir, February 2, 2006

Tim Brady n’est pas du genre guitar hero; ce ne sont pas des solos de guitare qu’il propose ici, mais un opéra, et pas moins électrique pour autant. Il y a bien tout de même un solo, celui de Michael Donovan, baryton. Sa voix évoque le souvenir de Norman Bethune, médecin canadien célèbre pour son travail sur la tuberculose ici, à Montréal, puis combattant pour la démocratie lors de la guerre civile espagnole et finalement chef médical de l’armée communiste chinoise! L’ensemble Bradyworks enrobe le monologue d’une musique puissante qui peut faire songer par moments au Steve Reich récent.

Bradyworks enrobe le monologue d’une musique puissante qui peut faire songer par moments au Steve Reich récent.

Blog

By continuing browsing our site, you agree to the use of cookies, which allow audience analytics.