I met with Aria Umezawa yesterday to talk about Opera 5’s latest project, a rather unusual take on Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. The project grew out of a desire to break Opera 5’s association with reviving rather obscure pieces and to do something “from the canon”. But, of course, for this company there had to be an angle. In this case it’s that Act 2 will be an immersive, audience participation exercise. We are all invited to Orlofsky’s party. There will be aerialists, burlesque dancers and a grand waltz for all which will probably reduce choreographer Jenn Nichols to tears. There a few other change ups. Frosh is gone and Ivan is replaced by drag queen Pearl Harbor, who will emcee the party. It’s in English, as the set up would make surtitles pretty much impossible. And the cast is pretty good. Michael Barrett sings Eisenstein with Rachel Krehm as Rosalinde, Julie Ludwig as Adele and Erin Lawson as Orlofsky among others.
Opera 5’s Die Fledermaus opens at 918 Bathurst (just north of Bloor) on June 8th at 8pm with further performances on the 9th, 10th and 11th. Tickets here.
We also talked about future plans as Opera 5 had been off my radar for a while; a function of raising enough cash to do a proper job on Die Fledermaus. In the short term Aria is off to Merola for the summer as an apprentice director but she’ll be back and the future plans are rather interesting, if also a bit tentative. Next summer should see a production of Ethel Smyth’s one act comedy The Boatswain’s Mate. Smyth, the suffragettes’ composer, was pretty much written off by the commentariat in her own day as not girly enough, which is surely grounds enough for a revival. There’s even the possibility that it will be paired with Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg which features a libretto with an impressive (and shockingly unprecedented) number of footnotes.
The downside of Toronto’s extremely lively and diverse indie opera scene is that it’s hard to differentiate oneself. Opera 5 has done that pretty well over the last few years and it’s good to see them back on stage.