There were three reGENERATION concerts in Walter Hall yesterday at 1pm, 4pm and 7.30pm. It made for a long but interesting day. As last year, each concert was a mix of vocal and chamber music. The vocal program was not announced in advance so I’m working from notes and there could be the odd error. Pleasingly, there were surtitles for the songs. This is a huge improvement on a sheet of tiny print to be read in the dark! Continue reading
Last night saw the first concert of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival. The theme was “Beyond Borders” with most of the works presented; a mixture of piano, violin and vocal, having been influenced by other cultures/places or written in exile.
Muse 9 Production’s new show Bon Appétit: A Musical Tasting Menu couples three short operas about food and was, appropriately enough, presented at Merchants of Green Coffee on Matilda Street. Perhaps “opera” isn’t the right term as, although each piece was fully staged, they featured only one singer each. “Opera” or “staged song”? I don’t really care as they were fun.
Hell’s Fury(*) is a two man show about Hanns Eisler conceived and created by Tim Albery. It’s focussed on his time in the United States and, somewhat, on his return to the DDR. It combines songs from the Hollywood Songbook (poems by Brecht and others set by Eisler), dialogue and projections to tell the story of Eisler’s arrival in Hollywood, his work in the US, his deportation as a result of the “work” of the House Un-American Activities Committee and his return to the GDR and struggles to come to terms with the Stalinist culturecrats leading ultimately to drink, depression and death.
This is what would happen if the opera singing love child of Noel Coward and Sylvia Plath was encouraged by his therapist to perform on “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids”. – Isaiah Bell
Isaiah Bell’s The Book of My Shames has something in common with Teiya Kasahara’s Queer of the Night. Both are one queer shows dealing very directly and honestly with aspects of being queer and both are very impressive singers. There perhaps the comparison pretty much ends for while Teiya’s show was about the tribulations of being gay in the opera world Isaiah’s piece is about growing up gay in a seriously dysfunctional environment.
Last night Pomegranate; music by Kye Marshall, words by Amanda Hale, opened at Buddies in Bad Times. Inspired by the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii, it tells the story of two lesbian lovers. Cass has broken up with Suzy in 1980s Toronto. She visits Pompeii as a tourist and is carried back in time to meet her lover in a previous incarnation in the Temple of Isis. There’s a whole act dealing with the Mysteries, Cassia and Suli’s burgeoning relationship and the attempt by the Roman state to suppress the religion. Then Vesuvius erupts. Fast forward to Act 2 in a lesbian bar in Toronto. Suzy, an immigrant from some unspecified war zone is pressured by her family to break up with Cass. There’s a slightly surreal byt dramatically satisfying epilogue where modern Cass reunites with Roman Sulli in the ruins of Pompeii.
Two years ago Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music was presented in workshop form (more or less) at Luminato. It felt incomplete and rather muddled then and I didn’t write about it. I saw the latest version yesterday at Hart House Theatre and it feels like a finished piece; indeed a rather accomplished one.
It’s a genre defying work. Perhaps it’s closer to musical theatre than anything else but it’s not miked and there are some “operatic” moments worked into the plot. Indeed there are some very funny musical moments and much cleverness in Aleš Březina’s score and Alon Nasman’s libretto.