Arts Anyway – Dinosaur Edition

The latest Arts Anyway webstream is up on Youtube.  This edition features two varry varry posh dinosaurs introducing Alexander Hajek singing Fauré and Rebecca Cuddy singing two of Ian Cusson’s settings of texts by Marilyn Dumont.  I think this is the kind of music and the kind of engagement that I miss most hunkered down here in the KittenKondo.  I can live without Mozart or Wagner (just about) but artsong, especially artsong that speaks to what matters to us most today… not having that hurts.  Keith Lam’s interviewee is also Rebecca Cuddy.

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Sweat

Yesterday I finally managed to do something bike related in conjunction with Bicycle Opera Project’s current tour of Sweat.  I got an early train out to Aldershot, biked to Hamilton and joined up with the bike tour of historic Hamilton organised by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre to complement the opera, before seeing the afternoon performance of Sweat at WAHC.  I’ll add some bikey/historical observations at the end but since this is an opera blog let’s cut to the chase.

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Where there’s a Will

So the Toronto Summer Music Festival continued last night with a Shakespeare themed show called A Shakespeare Serenade.  Curated and directed by Patrick Hansen of McGill it fell into two parts.  Before the interval we got Shakespeare scenes acted out and then the equivalent scene from an operatic adaptation of the play.  After the interval it was a mix of Sonnets and song settings in an overall staging that was perhaps riffing off The Decameron.  Patrick Hansen and Michael Shannon alternated at the piano.

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Three Bats on a Chest of Drawers

Opera 5’s interactive production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus opened last night in the Great Hall at 918 Bathurst.  It’s an intriguing but, above all, fun show.  I think it’s fair to say that presented straight Die Fledermaus has more than a few elements of meta-theatricality.  Here it’s central to the plot from MC Pearle Harbour’s initial apology for the lack of a fourth wall because “we can’t afford one” through a whole series of “interventions” by various characters.  Unpacking it all would probably make as much sense as Umberto Eco’s Three Owls on a Chest of Drawers and I’m not as clever as the late Professor Eco and, in best Fledermaus tradition, it’s the morning after and I’ve only had five hours sleep.  So, I’ll avoid the meta and try and describe the show.

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Underdone Alcina

There’s not that much Handel on offer in Toronto so it seems really rather odd that Alcina should get two productions within eighteen months.  The attraction of the piece for Opera Atelier was obvious.  It’s Handel’s only opera that incorporates dance.  Why the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory should think it’s a good choice for a student production is less clear.  Dance aside, it’s classic Handel; written for an audience who expected great virtuosity from the star singers (in this case Giovanni Carestini and Anna Maria Strada) plus the very latest in analogue SFX.  Neither of these could reasonably be expected at Koerner Hall.

Photo: Nicola Betts

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The week in prospect

alcina_365sqBack to relative quiet!  The main event in the coming week is the GGS spring production.  They are doing Handel’s Alcina.  The cast includes Meghan Jamieson, Irina Medvedeva, Christina Campsall, Lillian Brooks, Joanna Burt, Asitha Tennekoon and Keith Lam.  Leon Major directs and Ivars Taurins conducts.  The publicity material suggests a 1920s setting.  Anyway it’s at Koerner Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday and Friday.

There are a couple of kid friendly March break concerts in the RBA.  Tuesday sees what seems to have become an annual event; Kyra Millan’s Opera Interactive.  This year she is joined by Tina Faye and Charles Sy.  Then on Thursday Cawthra Park Chamber Choir and conductor Bob Anderson, one of the GTA’s leading school choirs, present various choral traditions and styles from the Renaissance to contemporary Canadian works.  Charles Sy, a Cawthra Park alumnus also features in this one.  Both at noon of course.

Then at the  Newmarket Theatre on Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm opera Luminata are performing.  This is a rather odd spectacular thing with taped orchestra and pyrotechnics.  I haven’t seen them but they got a rather more positive reception than I expected last time around.  www.operaluminata.com for details.

When the Sun Comes Out

tkIt’s World Pride Week in Toronto and as far as I know Tamar Iveri isn’t in town.  What is, is the Toronto premier of When the Sun Comes Out by Leslie Uyeda and Rachel Rose presented by Queer Innovative Theatre; a group of LGBTTIQQ2SA (WTF BBQ!) performers.  Unsurprisingly the piece treats of same sex relationships.  It’s a love triangle with a twist.  Solana (Teiya Kasahara) is a foot loose wandering lesbian who has fallen in love with a married woman, Lilah (Stephanie Yelovich) who, unfortunately, lives in a dystopia where same sex relationships are a capital offence.  Their relationship, and their lives, are threatened by Lilah’s jealous husband Javan (Keith Lam).  But he too has a secret in his past.  They also have a daughter who neither will give up making simple resolution of the relationship issues impossible.

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When the Sun Comes Out

kasaharaLeslie Uyeda’s opera, When the Sun Comes Out, which premiered at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival last year is coming to Toronto.  It will be given in concert performance at the Ernest Balmer Studio at the Distillery on June 26th and 27th.  Set in an imaginary country called Fundamentalia, a country where violation of gender roles is punishable by death, When the Sun Comes Out is the story of a love affair between two women, Lilah, a young, sheltered and wealthy married mother, and Solana, a gender outlaw and rebellious outsider just passing through as she’s passed through so many other countries in her restless, futile quest for happiness. In a land where love between women is punishable by death, Lilah and Solana fall in love but their affair is discovered by Lilah’s enraged and unpredictable husband, Javan.

Ensemble Studio graduate Teiya Kasahara, who premiered the role of Solana is joined by Hamilton based soprano Stephanie Yelovich, soprano, who will play the role of Lilah.  Keith Lam, baritone, will play the role of Javan. Opera 5’s Maika’i Nash will act as musical director and pianist. Continue reading

Cheap enough for beggars

Last night I went to see Essential Opera’s cheap and cheerful production of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera.  It was a semi staged production in the relatively small Heliconian Hall.  Semi-staged in this case meant sung in costume from music stands with very basic blocking.  Accompaniment was by Cathy Nosaty on piano and accordion which actually suited the music pretty well.

The singing was good, sometimes very good.  Probably the stand out was Laura McAlpine’s Jenny.  Of all the singers on display she was the one who seemed most immersed in the sound world of the piece and could vary style and technique appropriately.  Erin Bardua’s Lucy Brown was really quite idiomatic too.  The others were more consistently operatic which sounded a bit odd in places but worked surprisingly well in, for example David Roth and Heather Jewson’s rather refined refined and bourgeois Peachums.  Obviously this approach also worked for the character who are usually sung operatically; Macheath, Brown and Polly for example.  The ensembles were all also very effective.

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