So on a grungy corner of Dundas and Ossington lies a grungy cellar dive; the Dakota Tavern. It’s not an obvious place to do opera though a mash up of opera and burlesque is more plausible. And so that’s what we got from the Opera Revue crew (Alexander Hajek, Danie Friesen and Claire Harris) and four burlesque dancers.
The music was appropriately chosen; some Phantom, Don Giovanni, Carmen, some Weill plus show tunes. Basically mine the repertory for stuff that is a bit edgy and plays with ideas of sexual consent or lack of it. Ironically the goody bag that was raffled off at the interval include, apparently, an Armadildo. I say ironically because I had spent my lunchtime with the cast and crew of Colleen Wagner’s new play Armadillos which is also (at least in part) about sexual consent or lack of it. Continue reading →
Ruckus at the Revival from Opera Revue lived up to the billing. It was informal, it was fun, there was booze and the average age of the audience was about COC-30. The usual suspects were joined by Liliane Brooks, Ryan Downey and Dylan Wright (looking FABULOUS darlings) and some dude called Mike with an electric guitar. Plus your favourite Warner Bros characters.
It’s still pretty quiet but there are some things still going on:
August 16th to 20th, the National Ballet has free performances at Harbourfront incorporating a number of partners and an eclectic mix of dance styles. Details.
August 28th at pm in the Music Garden at Harbourfront Lawrence Wiliford and PhoeNX Ensemble are performing Alec Roth’s Songs in Time of War. This one is free and outdoors so “weather permitting”. Continue reading →
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 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.
Once more the week’s Youtube offerings show that digital works best when it’s “made for digital”. Who’d a thunk it eh! Anyway there’s very watchable new content on Youtube from Alexander Hajek, Opera Revue and Domoney Artists. Best of all though is a new short film called Sempra Libera from Carsen Gilmore and the very good soprano Michelle Drever. If you like the look and feel of Morte you’ll love this. It’s really dark. It’s the grimmest take on Violetta I’ve seen; Natalie Dessay included!
Pickings are still decidedly slim in terms of locally created on-line content with many postponements due to the current lockdown in Toronto. What I have lined up is as follows:
The UoT Opera Student Composer Collective’s annual show is being streamed at 2.30pm on Sunday 21st February. This year it’s called Escape Room and it’s a comedy with a scenario of characters trapped in a darkened room with no memory of how they got there. It’s being streamed via Zoom and preregistration at this link is required.
The COC has a roundtable on Gender and Opera on its Youtube channel on March 5th at 7pm.
Confluence Concerts are offering a tribute to John Beckwith; specifically his songs, on March 7th at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. That’s on Confluence’s Youtube channel.
Tapestry have two shows coming up on their Youtube channel. March 6th at 8pm sees Mireille Asselin and guests perform a range of works celebrating their French heritage. Then on March 27th at 8pm Morgan-Paige Melbourne performs Where Do I Go?; an intriguing looking mixture of piano and dance.
There’s also new short but fun content on the appropriate Youtube channels from Opera Revue, Alexander Hajek and Domoney Artists.
Do check to make sure that there aren’t further changes before planning your life around these events!
Ontario’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.
I last saw a live show in a theatre on March 13th. Eight months later I’ve watched a lot of web content as well as continuing to review commercial opera recordings. A month ago I wrote in Opera Canada that “there’s no substitute for live” and I stand by that view. I do think though that there’s an opportunity and a need to rethink how opera and song is produced for webstreaming.
A quick reminder that tonight, tomorrow and Saturday see new streams from AtG (A Little Too Cozy prequel), The GGS Fall Opera (Seven Deadly Sins and Lucrezia) and Confluence (Purcell). There’s also new content on the appropriate Youtube channels from Domoney Artists and Alex Hajek.