New comic operas are rare. New comic operas that are actually funny are vanishingly rare. The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring is such a beast. It’s a new piece with music by James Rolfe and a libretto by Morris Panych derived from his twenty year old stage adaptation of Gogol’s short story. Originally commissioned by Tapestry Opera, the Toronto staging was under the joint auspices of that company and Canadian Stage with the work also to be staged by co-producer Vancouver Opera as part of their summer festival.
Geoff Sirett will sing the main role of Akakiy in the upcoming Tapestry/CanStage premiere of James Rolfe and Morris Panych’s The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring based on the absurdist short story by Gogol. I put some questions to Geoff about him, the piece and his role in it.
Casting has now been announced for The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring; an opera by Morris Panych and James Rolfe based on Gogol’s short story by way of Panych’s 1990s theatrical version. The opera is a co-production of Vancouver Opera, Tapestry Opera and Canadian Stage and will premiere in Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre (March 29th to April 14th) before heading to the Vancouver Playhouse (April 28th to May 12th).
So the rumours have been around for a while but today the big announcement about Tapestry’s major project for 2017/18 went public. It’s a joint production with Canadian Stage and Vancouver Opera of an operatic version of Morris Panych’s adaptation of Gogol’s The Overcoat which, as a stage play, won critical acclaim in 1998. The music is by James Rolfe and it will premiere at the Bluma Appel Thaetre in March 2018 before moving to the Vancouver Playhouse as part of the second Vancouver Opera Festival. The idea originated in the 2014 LibLab which produced a very funny scene of a hapless customer being beaten senseless by his tailors. (something that should have happened to Cheetoh Benito long ago).
The casting for Philip Boesmans’ chamber opera Julie, to be staged by Soundstrams and Canadian Stage in November has been announced. The title role will be sung by London, Ontario mezzo Lucia Cervoni. I’ve not seen her but judging by reviews she seems to be very much in the same space; physically and vocally, as Malena Ernman who premiered the role. Jean, her feckless lover, well be sung by Clarence Frazer. He’s been on terrific form lately and seems a good pick, though it’s a rather thankless role. The toughest sing in the piece is probably Christine, Jean’s fiancée and a servant in the household. This goes to Ottawa’s Sharleen Joynt. She really impressed me as Zerlina in Against the Grain’s #UncleJohn and I’m really intrigued to see what she does with a high coloratura role which is, I believe, her normal turf. Continue reading →
The Canadian Stage season brochure for 2015/16 landed in my mailbox yesterday. I was intrigued to see that, among the ten productions on offer, there was an opera and a contemporary one at that. Julie is a 2005 adaptation of Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie with a libretto by Luc Bondy and music by Belgian Philippe Boesmans. Matthew Jocelyn directs. There will be eight performances at the 867 seat Bluma Appel Theatre from November 17th to November 29th 2015. More details here.
It seems like the Toronto contemporary opera scene is coming to life. As well as Tapestry’s ongoing efforts we had Airline Icarus, Shelter and When the Sun Comes Out this summer and who knows what’s to come. It almost makes up for the COC commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 by programming nothing written since then.