Gould’s Wall

It was March 2017 and I was interviewing composer Brian Current over lunch.  He mentioned having seen Geoff Sirett bouldering on the wall of the Royal Conservatory atrium and how he had an idea for a site specific opera based on the life of Glenn Gould.  Eventually this became Gould’s Wall with a libretto by Liza Balkan.  Announced and rescheduled more than once due to COVID it premiered last night under the auspices of Tapestry Opera and the conservatory’s 21C series.

*Lauren Pearl and Roger Honeywell _ Gould_s Wall _ Tapestry Opera _ Photo by Dahlia Katz(3)

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A Waltz Dream

Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream opened last night in a Toronto Operetta theatre production at the St. Lawrence Centre.  The piece premiered in Vienna in 1907 and soon became a huge international hit with various English versions appearing quite early on.  The version given by TOT appears to be a 1970s version with book by Michael Flanders, Edmund Tracey and Bernard Dunn and the music adapted and arranged by Ronald Hanmer.

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SOS Sketch Opera Singers 3

The third SOS – Sketch Opera Singers from Tapestry Opera is now up on Youtube.  It’s quite similar to the previous episodes with inspired lunacy from KrossØver (Teiya Kasahara, Keith Klassen, Krisztina Szabó, Korin Thomas-Smith and a snail but definitely not Simone McIntosh).  I think it’s a bit darker and a bit weirder than earlier episodes, even a bit surreal in places.  The sketch where people are helped through break-ups by soft toys singing well known arias comes to mind.  Still, it’s half an hour of (mostly) harmless fun.  Definitely worth a watch.

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SOS: Sketch Opera Singers 2

SOS2 was at least as good as the first instalment.  Krisztina Szabó came in as replacement for Simone McIntosh who is back on the west coast and showed that she’s at least as crazy as anyone else involved in this show (even Keith Klassen and that’s saying something).  Highlights include Korin Thomas-Smith auditioning for Papageno and being asked to sing everything from Sarastro to the Queen of the Night, Krisztina as a manic photographer, the previously mentioned ABBA-nera, Teiya Kasahara breathing COVID on Keith Klassen and lots more rather dark virus humour.  All sorts of people chipped in with cameos and/or music, Michael Mori and Keith Klassen directed with Jennifer Tung and Juliane Gallant providing music direction.  Technical quality is excellent and it’s free.  It’s only 30 minutes long so there’s no excuse for not watching.  It’s available here.

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Rocking Horse Winner – the recording

rhwTapestry Opera’s original 2019/20 season was to have included a remount of Gareth Williams’ and Anna Chatterton’s Rocking Horse Winner which premiered to positive reviews in May 2016. This is quite unusual as all too often, new Canadian operas, even the successful ones pretty much disappear after an initial run. Needless to say the staged show didn’t happen but, happily, Tapestry decided to make an audio recording instead.

Three of the four principals from 2016; Asitha Tennekoon, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray reprise their original roles while Lucia Cesaroni replaces Carla Huhtanen as Ava.  This time around the house is represented by Midori Marsh, Alex Hetherington, Stephen Bell and Korin Thomas-Smith.

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SOS Sketch Opera Singers

Tapestry’s SOS Sketch Opera Singers does for the staid old world of opera what I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue did for the quiz show.  Five of Toronto’s finest artistes, in the guise of the cross-over group; Krossøver, are, in the immortal words of Humphrey Lyttleton, “given silly things to do”.

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Virtual – new and upcoming

Things I’ve seen recently or plan to see include:

Seen recently:

  • Two more spooky shorts from Tapestry Opera and Red Truck productions.  If you had any lingering doubts about Keith Klassen’s sanity these should take care of them!  That said, the technical quality of these is amazing. (Tapestry Youtube channel).
  • A COVID flavoured Halloween special from Opera Revue.  (Opera Revue’s Youtube channel)
  • A recording and video presentation by the Kingston Symphony of Dean Burry’s Nijmegen Bridge 1944.  It’s a homage to the Canadians who died liberating the Netherlands and it’s well worth hearing.  There are also more Harmon in Space episodes.  (Kingston Symphony Youtube channel)

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Carmen #YesAllWomen

Loose Tea Music Theatre’s Carmen #YesAllWomen has been in the works for three years.  It went “live” this week with a production at Heliconian Hall.  It’s an intriguing show.  Dramatically and musically it’s recognisably based on Bizet’s Carmen but only just.  In Alaina Viau and Monica Pearce’s version the principal male character is one John Anderson, an Afghanistan vet with PTSD, his rival for Carmen is a rapper, Maximillian aka Hot God, and Michaela is Anderson’s estranged wife.

Carmen#yesallwomen2019-photobyDahliaKatz-4953

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Tapestry Briefs: Tasting Shorts

The current Tapestry Briefs is one of the most satisfying I have attended.  Briefs is the performance edition of the LibLab; an intense where composers collaborate with librettists to create new opera scenes.  Some of these disappear and some go on to be the starting point for new operas.  The current crop is strong.  There were eleven scenes in the show; sung by various combinations of Teiya Kasahara, Stephanie Tritchew, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray with Jennifer Tung at the piano and other keyboards.  As a bonus, at intervals Keith appeared to sing a parody of a famous aria describing the tasty little tapas which were offered around.

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