Back to the Emmet Ray yesterday for another show by Opera Revue. This time Dani Friesen and Claire Harris were joined by baritone Alexander Hajek which allowed for a three set show and quite a few duets. I was really struck by how much throwing in some duets makes the whole show seem more operatic. So what did we get? There was a lot of Mozart, notably duets from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, plus solo arias from both operas. And, of course, there was Kurt Weill from Dani. There was at least one Neapolitan songs and several musical theatre numbers (Alex looks very fetching in cat ears) and a guest singing Schumann and probably other stuff I’ve forgotten. All in all, a suitably varied and satisfying selection.
It’s not opera yet but I’ll take any live theatre I can get right now. Last night’s show was a joint presentation by Jamii Esplanade and Théâtre Français de Toronto of David Danzon and
Carolin Lindner’s La bulle. It’s not an easy show to describe. There is one character; Pierrot, dressed in the traditional manner and played brilliantly by Danzon. He inhabits a transparent dome. Pierrot dreams his dreams wordlessly through mime, drawing, dance and even text. He finds ways to communicate with the outside world; us, sitting in a 360 degree arrangement around the dome. There’s music and complex lighting effects. The show has real emotional depth and is strangely moving. At times it’s very funny and Danzon’s agility and ability to go through what seem like complete personality changes is rather remarkable. It’s playing at 8pm every night until September 5th in the courtyard at Berkeley Castle but I’m afraid all performances are sold out.
Photo credit: Muriel Cavanhac
Last night I went to my first evening, indoor performance since March 12th last year. And today I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick! Being out in the evening until getting home after a concert time is something my body has apparently forgotten how to do over the last year or so!
Little did I suspect on March 12th 2020, as I attended UoT Opera’s Mansfield Park, that I would not review another live concert until July 14th 2021 but that’s how the COVID crumbled. Today I made it to one of Tapestry’s Box Concerts at CAMH on Queen Street. It was much more fun than my last visit which was for a meeting on infection control in the basement of the dreary old building, now demolished.
It seems like Ontario is changing its policy on what’s open and what’s not and who gets vaccinated and who doesn’t about three times/week right now and, among other things, it’s playing havoc with the creation of on-line content.
My review of Tapestry’s show from the weekend; Lovesongs – A Saxophony is now up on the Opera Canada website.
Photo: Dahlia Katz
My review of Tapestry Songbook X is now up on the Opera Canada website.
Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park opened last night at UoT Opera in a production by Tim Albery. It’s a really interesting show that builds up in “layers” to a very satisfying whole. The Austen novel, of course, is very self consciously a novel. There’s no pretence at “immersion”. The author is both telling the story and commenting on it for the benefit of you, the reader. Librettist Alasdair Middleton both builds on this and does a quite brilliant job of compression to bring in a condensed, and only slightly simplified, version of the story in under two hours.
Toronto Operetta Theatre’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore opened last night. Director Guillermo Silva-Marin has chosen to translate the piece to a cruise ship in the 1920s which has its incongruities but they aren’t particularly disturbing (except perhaps for Sir Joseph Porter’s shoes!). In fact what we get is basically a crisp, well paced and idiomatic Pinafore which is what I want in G&S. It’s also genuinely funny, though some jokes age better than others, and occasionally even quite moving.
Another unusual and interesting show from Larry Beckwith’s Confluence Concerts last night at the Aki Studio. The first half of the programme was a reading of Madeleine Thien’s short story Bullet Train. It’s sort of a double coming of age story that also looks at what we hang onto and what we don’t as we move through life. It was beautifully read by Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster with cunningly chosen piano interludes played by Gregory Oh.
After the interval it was Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Yoko Ono inspired piece; Witch on Thin Ice. At it’s centre was virtuoso percussionist Beverly Johnstone who displayed great skill on a range of untuned and tuned percussion while executing parts of Melissa Bettio’s choreography and producing all but indescribable vocals! She was supported by soprano Vania Chan and dancer Jessica Mak with a rap number by Gregory Oh. Playing over all of this were really rather striking videos and electronics designed by Alice. It was a bit overwhelming really. Maybe like being in the middle of an immersive video game and a very complex percussion piece at the same time. Anyway, great fun and totally unexpected!
There’s another chance to catch this programme tonight at 8pm at the Aki Studio.