Opera revue again

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.

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Newtubes

It seems like less on-line “opera” content is being produced as Europe prepares to return to theatres and Canada holds it breath.  A few things are ongoing though and there’s fun new content from Natalya Gennadi and friends with HBD!Project April.  More fine singing and stunning graphics. 

There’s also Isolation Series: Wash, Dry, Reset from Opera Revue featuring the mordant wit and musical talents of Dani Friesen, Alexander Hajek and Claire Harris, plus dish detergent and popcorn.  Both are on Youtube on channels Natalya Gennadi and Opera Revue respectively.

On-line roundup

Music-for-Self-Isolation_Horvat-620x670Ontario’s state of emergency seems to have slowed the production of on-line content to a trickle.  The only new things I’ve seen recently are from the ever reliable Opera Revue and Alexander Hajek.

Opera Revue’s eighth isolation production features five pieces from Frank Horvat’s Music for Self Isolation; a set of thirty one short pieces for one or two musicians written last spring.  The concert features the five pieces with a vocal part.  I have to say I liked the texts; taken from various sources, more than the music.  The music is sort of “singer sonwriterish”; simple, tonal, melodic, a bit repetitive.  It’s fine of its type but it’s not my bag.  Performances by various combos of sopranos Emily Ding and Dani Friesen, pianist Claire Harris and guitarist Michael McKenzie are very nice though and the recording; despite being done via Zoom, is perfectly acceptable.  The music may not be entirely my thing but I’m delighted that someone is doing projects like this.  You can find it on Opera Revue’s channel on Youtube.

Alex Hajek’s contribution is another intriguing Toronto based film this time featuring Der Doppelgänger from Scubert’s Schwanengesang.  It’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and, again, featurers Claire Harris on piano as well as Alex’ lovely baritone.  This one’s on Youtube too.  The channel is Alexander Hajek.

Ensemble Studio Competition 2019

The Ensemble Studio Competition again last night.  Seven singers were competing with Ben Heppner’s jokes for cash prizes, champagne and, possibly, a place in the COC Ensemble Studio.  There’s one thing I think is vital to understand about the Ensemble Studio Competition.  The judges have been working with the singers for a week.  The audience gets to hear them sing one aria.  It’s easy to see why there isn’t always concurrence between the hall and the judging table.  (That’s my excuse anyway).

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The contestants with Alexander Neef and Johannes Debus

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Centre Stage line up

The Canadian Opera Company’s ninth annual Ensemble Studio Competition is being held on October 30, 2019 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The 2019  finalists are: sopranos Kirsten LeBlanc (Moncton, NB), Midori Marsh (Cleveland, Ohio), and Charlotte Siegel (Toronto, ON); mezzo-soprano Sarah Bissonnette (Boucherville, QC); tenor Marcel d’Entremont (Merigomish, NS); bass-baritone Alex Halliday (St. John’s, NL); and bass Brenden Friesen (Langham, SK).

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Blitzkrieg Cabaret

What better way to celebrate Kurt Weill’s birthday than listening to his songs, cabaret style, with a beer or three.  Well that’s what we did on Saturday as Blitzkrieg Cabaret opened a new run of Saturday afternoon shows at the Dakota Tavern.

We got three singers; Danie Friesen, Hilary June Hart, Jackson Welchner supported by Nick Donovan (drums), Colin Frotten (piano), and Andrew Downing (bass) with Hilary also chipping in on the accordion on occasion.  While Danie is a classically trained singer, Hilary and Jackson sound more comfortable in a jazzier idiom.  That, plus the make up of the band meant that the show tended to the “Sinatraesque” version of Weill rather than, say, the grittiness of Pabst’s Dreigroschenoper movie.  This was reflected in both choice of translation and performing style.  I think this works for some of Weill’s stuff but it doesn’t work for me so well with the Brecht lyrics.  I’ll go for Marx over McCarthy anytime!  Other people may feel differently.

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