52 weeks – 16 December, 2012

Television mini-series

Romola Garai as EmmaSaw Emma, a TV mini-series from 2009, with Romola Garai in the leading role. I have lost count of the number of times Jane Austen novels have been dramatized in the last couple of decades, since Jane Austen became newly marketable, but in fact the last two Emmas were back in 1996: the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and the TV movie with Kate Beckinsale.

This one: well worth watching, though with some flaws. In general, Romola Garai portrays the charming but exasperating Emma well, though Emma’s behaviour at the Box Hill picnic seems like a complete personality change rather than the momentary lapse of propriety that I think it ought to be. Similarly I found Rupert Evans, as Frank Churchill, so immature and moody that it is hard to imagine how Emma could have been attracted to him, even briefly.

Michael Gambon teeters on the edge of caricature as Mr. Woodhouse (perhaps it’s hard not to), but manages to keep the character on track as a neurotic but loving father.  Jonny Lee Miller is a very good Mr. Knightley.

Overall, I’d recommend it to lovers of Austen who, like me, can usually find endless delight in debating the nuances of how the characters are portrayed — we get to compare them to both the text of the book and the images in our heads.

Food

Crab CakesThe crab and shrimp cakes with roasted corn salsa and garlic aioli at the Water Street Café in Gastown. I am a creature of habit when I find perfect restaurant dishes and this is one I have returned for many times.

Music

The Laudate SingersA Baroque Christmas with The Laudate Singers at St. Andrew’s. The program featured Charpentier’s Te Deum and Messe de Minuit. The choir was joined by instrumentalists Nancy DiNovo, Paul Luchkow, Ray Nurse, Natalie Mackie, Christopher Bagan and Kris Kwapis.

The concert opened with Mouret’s Premiere Suite de Symphonies. The Rondeau is familiar from its association with Masterpiece Music, but how rewarding it was to hear a different interpretation with a lovely, sprightly/stately bounce that made me listen to it anew.

The Messe de Minuit and Te Deum were beautifully sung, with Mark Donnelly’s pure countertenor as an added delight.

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