Luminato is one of those grandiose ideas beloved of government, corporate and private funding bodies. Within ten days it strives to touch all the bases, ethnic, teen, artsy and mellow-elderly whilst appealing everyone else with aspects of glitz and glitter. Encompassed within its unselfconscious pomposity are elements to be commended as well as drivel and a smattering of stuff completely beyond the pale. This is a formula practically guaranteed to put mucho bucks in organizers pockets.
The people behind Luminato are not Canadian. They have experienced success with similar festivals in other countries. They convinced Toronto financiers to believe their idea too big to fail, and generally they have been successful. But recent announcements suggest to me the people behind this bread and circus idea, perhaps made giddy by success, are in danger of putting out Luminato’s light, or at least of installing a wattage so low as to threaten public perceptions of their credibility.
Luminato’s 2012 season was already fixed when a new artistic director was hired. As any ambitious late-comer is want to do, he immediately began tweaking events already scheduled, usually a sign of impresarial hubris, lack of confidence, stupidity or all three. To wit.
A local pianist had proposed or was asked to play the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas in one day. The Hall chosen for this, I am almost lost for words, extravaganza is the latest and most prestigious of Toronto concert venues. Performances were to begin in the morning, continue in the afternoon and evening with a break between each period. However, the new guy decided this proposal needed to be enhanced. Who in Toronto would listen to Beethoven Piano Sonatas unadorned?
So dear reader, what would you do to improve the experience and entice the public to buy tickets to each period without an all day discount? The answer separates us from the artistic director’s mind and our minds boggle.
Hire an Indonesian dancer/performance artist living in Hamburg, Germany to “interpret” Beethoven on stage whilst his sonatas are played. “Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners . . . .”
P.S. Dear reader we need also to hire a visual artist to interpret the experience. Yes, this also was done.