This year’s fall production by UoT Opera is Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. It’s a tricky piece in many ways. It’s part opera, part Broadway musical. The moods range from light comedy to something very much darker and lurking treacherously at its core is a sentimental streak that can easily overwhelm its merits. Michael Patrick Albano’s production, coupled with Anna Theodosakis’ energetic and varied choreography, managed to keep the focus on the strengths of the piece and deliver a very satisfying evening at the theatre.
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.
It’s September and the long, slow awakening after the annual aestivation begins. There’s not a lot on yet but what there is is interesting. The middle of the month sees Native Earth’s production of I Call myself Princess at the Aki Studio; previews from 9th to 12th September with official opening on the 13th and then shows until the end of the month. My interview with playwright Jani Lauzon is here. Also opening on the 13th is Tapestry Briefs at the Ernest Balmer Studio. Hear the product of the LibLab, hear Stephanie Tritchew, Teiya Kasahara, Peter McGillivray and Keith Klassen and eat tapas. It runs until the 16th.
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.
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).
Canadian Art Song Project has just issued its second CD; Cloud Light. It’s a collection of four contrasting works by Polish-Canadian composer Norbert Palej. The first, Three Norwegian Songs (2011) was composed for baritone Peter McGillivray, who sings them here. The settings are of English translations of Norwegian texts. Maybe it’s because the texts are translations or maybe because this seems the most American/Broadway inflected piece on the disk I found it the least effective but, as we shall see, it has serious competition. In any event Peter sings it very well even when it goes cruelly high. Continue reading →
For those of you who won’t be glued to the underwater cycling at the Pan-Am games there is actually music on in Toronto over the summer. The tenth Toronto Summer Music Festival features a wide range of events in many genres. The ones likely to be of most interest to AR readers follow.
Upcoming gigs that haven’t made it onto the page here yet include Tapestry Songbook V which will include highlights from works such as: The Perfect Screw (Abigail Richardson/Alexis Diamond), a cheeky comedy about a woman in search of the perfect screw—a Robertson or a Philips; The Shadow (Omar Daniel/Alex Poch-Goldin), a melodrama where a mailman disguises himself as a suave bachelor at the turn of 20th century Barcelona; In this World, George is Heartbroken (Lembit Beecher/Hannah Moscovitch), a psychological exploration of the demented imagination of a middle aged couple paralyzed in routine; and Noor over Afghan (Christiaan Venter/Anusree Roy), a story of a woman who, upon discovering her terminal illness, begs her sister to take her place at the altar as she flees on her own wedding day. The performers will be (now fully bipedal) baritone Peter McGillivray and pianist Stephen Philcox. It’s at 8pm at the Ernest Blamer Studio and the $24 tickets include a reception afterwards. The snag? The COC’s Don Giovanni opens that evening.
Also coming up is The Whisper Opera, a Soundstreams presenetation in partnership with New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). The venue, The Theatre Centre at 1115 Queen Street West only seats 52 and there are only six performances and we are promised it will never be recorded or done on a bigger scale. Sounds intriguing. Anyway, right now, the first three performances are being discounted 40% (regular $57.50 – do the math) from the Royal Conservatory Box Office using promo code LISTEN. Good until January 16th.
More details have been announced on Tapestry Opera’s season. This week sees Tapestry Briefs: Booster Shots; previously previewed here. January 24th, 2015 sees Tapestry Songbook V with baritone Peter McGillivray and young Canadian singers in concert performing the beautiful and absurd repertoire from Tapestry’s 35 year old Canadian collection.
Toronto Operetta Theatre and Toronto Masque Theatre have announced their respective 2014/15 season line ups. TOT will present three shows. The first is a zarzuela; Federico Chueca’s La gran via. Jose Hernandez conducts and the cast includes Margie Bernal, Fabian Arciniegas, Pablo Benitez and Diego Catala. There’s one performance on November 2nd. The Christmas show will be Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Singers include Lucia Cesaroni, Mia Lennox, David Ludwig and Giles Tomkins with Derek Bate conducting. There are six performances scheduled between December 27th and January 4th. Finally, and perhaps most exciting, is a revival of Victor Davies’ 2008 piece Ernest, the Importance of Being. It’s based on the Wilde play and will star Jean Stilwell as Lady Bracknell. Larry Beckwith conducts. There will be four performances on April 29th and May 1st to 3rd. All three shows will be directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin and will be staged at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. (www.stlc.com)