The Book of My Shames

headshot-isaiah-bell-2017-websizedThis 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.

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At the River

It was the last concert of Confluence’s inaugural season last night.  The theme was “At the River” and the venue the rather splendid (if somewhat popish) St. Thomas’ Anglican on Huron Street.  It rather epitomized what I have come to expect, and love, from this series.  The musical styles on display were eclectic; classical, folk song, pop/rock, jazz with East and South Indian, Middle Eastern and Indigenous elements all well to the fore.  There was also some poetry including an unintentionally hilarious piece in praise of the idyllic Don River.  There was also a large and accomplished ensemble and a lot of joy and sheer fun.

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Opera Atelier 2019/20

Opera Atelier has announced its 2019/20 season.  As usual there are two main stage shows.  The first is a revival of their 2011 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  It runs from October 31st to November 9th, 2019, in the Ed Mirvish Theatre.  It’s a production that plays up the comedy and the elements of the commedia dell’arte in the piece while pretty much eschewing anything deeper or darker.  The cast includes Douglas Williams as the Don with Stephen Hegedus as Leporello, Colin Ainsworth, as Don Ottavio, Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna, Carla Huhtanen as Donna Elvira, Mireille Asselin as Zerlina, Olivier Laquerre as Masetto, and Gustav Andreassen as Commendatore. beautiful Ed Mirvish Theatre.  David Fallis conducts.

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Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian

I finally got to see Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Hadrian, to a libretto by Daniel Macivor, at the Four Seasons Centre last night.  There’s been a lot of hype around it and I was interested; the few bits of music from it that I had heard intrigued me but I’m no fan of his earlier work Prima Donna.  One thing was certain.  The piece does not lack ambition. There are four acts totalling something like 160 minutes.  There’s a large cast, a large orchestra, a large chorus and an epic storyline.  It’s clearly an attempt to produce a “grand opera” for our times.  Does it succeed?

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Tapestry and Pride

pride-art-with-logosTapestry Opera is collaborating with Toronto Pride Week to put on a “queerated opera series” called Pride Toronto, Tap This.  There are three shows:

  • Cocktales with Maria showcases Drag Chanteuse / Contralto Profundo Maria Toilette (Joel Klein) and her small motley crew (the Gutter Opera Collective).  They will present Isaiah Bell’s settings of Cocktales: rapacious and tender 1st person retellings of early sexual experiences.  June 8th and 9th at 9pm.
  • Queer of the Night features Soprano Teiya Kasahara subverting the tropes of women in opera with her trademark butch couture and powerful coloratura in cooperation with collaborative pianist, David Eliakis.  June 7th at 9pm and June 9th at 4pm.
  • Tap This: Queers Crash the Opera is a selection of queer-themed opera curated by David Eliakis. It features selections from the classics as well as Tapestry original works.  June 7th and 8th at 8pm.

All shows are at the Ernest Balmer Studio.  More info and tickets here.

Seven Sins at the Symphony

Last night’s Decades series concert featured three works from the 1930s plus a sesqui.  The sesqui, Andrew Balfour’s Kiwetin-acahkos; Fanfare for the Peoples of the North was definitely one of the more interesting of these short pieces.  There were elements of minimalism combined with a nod to Cree/Métis fiddle music.  Quite complex and enjoyable.  It was followed by Barber’s rather bleak Adagio for Strings and the Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.  It’s familiar enough fare and was well played by the orchestra under Peter Oundjian.  I particularly enjoyed some of the weird percussion/celesta effects in the third movement of the Bartók.  But really I was there for the second half of the program.

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Like the 504 streetcar

Season announcements, it seems, are like the King Street streetcar(1).  You wait for ages then three come along at once.  This time it’s Opera Atelier announcing the 2017/18 season.  As ever there are two productions.  A remount of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro runs October 26th to November 4th. The cast icludes Douglas Williams, making his Opera Atelier debut, in the title role, with Mireille Asselin (Susanna), Stephen Hegedus (Count Almaviva), Peggy Kriha Dye (Countess Almaviva), Mireille Lebel (Cherubino), Laura Pudwell (Marcellina), Gustav Andreassen (Bartolo), Christopher Enns (Basilio/Don Curzio), Olivier Laquerre (Antonio), and Grace Lee (Barbarina).  This one will be sung in English.

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Patrick Jang, Carla Huhtanen and Phillip Addis in “The Marriage of Figaro” (2010).  Photo by Bruce Zinger.

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