2021 was another year of parts. Pretty much no live indoor performances before September then a few chances to get to the theatre and now, well who knows? So what stood out for me in 2021? Here’s a round up by category.
Not much of course but there were some good shows, though opera didn’t really figure. The Home Project from Native Earth and Soulpepper was a thought provoking look at the the idea of “home”. MixTape at Crow’s Theatre explored the variegated nature of relationships through the medium of the once ubiquitous mix tape. And on a more conventional note there was a rearranged at short notice recital at Koerner hall that showcased the extremely talented Davóne Tines. Continue reading →
The annus horribilis of 2021 seems to be going out with a whimper rather than a bang; at least musically in Toronto. Much of the streamed content on offer consists of repeats which is, I suppose, a holiday tradition. In this category we could include Against the Grain’s Messiah:Complex showing on Youtube and at TIFF and Essential Opera’s December. There’s still some new stuff appearing. Opera Revue have a rather good short piece about the exorbitant cost of aviaries in Toronto on Youtube. (They also have a live show coming up this weekend at the Emmett Ray. The COC have a show I(n Winter coming up this weekend on the COC web site featuring music by, among others, Vivaldi and Ian Cusson. There are also a couple of very short concerts from the RBA on the COC’s Youtube channel. Also, this year the annual Krehm memorial concert in aid of St. Mike’s ICU is on Youtube at 5.30pm on Boxing Day. Rachel Krehm is singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in the Schoenberg arrangement and that will be followed by a chamber reduction of Beethovens Symphony No.7. Evan Mitchell conducts the Canzona Chamber Players. For live, Tafelmusik have a sort of Christmas “greatest hits” concert and the TSO have a much shortened Messiah. Apart from that the holiday season is looking like booze and booster shots.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed on the web recently:
There’s a workshop from the Isabel Bader Centre at Queens called Echo:Memories of the World which looks at cultural memory and cultural transmission from both a Western and an Indigenous perspective. It features Marion Newman and the Gryphon Trio among others. It’s fascinating but I found parts of it quite triggering. I don’t know how ong this is going to be available. For now it’s free. Note that while the Vimeo version of the performance works the Youtube doesn’t.
The Domoney Artists Youtube channel has new Opera Breaks from Natalya Gennadi and Asitha Tennekoon.
Also on Youtube there’s a new piece from Opera Revue which may be even dafter than their previous efforts, which set a pretty high bar for daftness.
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’s been a bit quiet lately but there a couple of live shows and a video that you might want to check out. None of them are opera really but whatever. Shakespeare in the Ruff are doing something different this year. They have a one hour show called Towards Rebirth which explores the themes of Rupture, Resilience, and Rebirth. It was created in workshop by the actors and so it’s maybe not the most polished theatre you will ever see but it’s quite moving and sometimes very funny. There are six more shows in Withrow Park at 3pm and 6.30pm Friday through Sunday. It’s ticketed and PWYC. Details here.
Last night I went to my first evening, indoor performance since March 12th last year. And today I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick! Being out in the evening until getting home after a concert time is something my body has apparently forgotten how to do over the last year or so!
There’s less being produced right now in the way of on-line content but here are a few titbits:
Opera Revue has a new and very silly vaccine related number on Youtube.
Sara Schabas has a recital recorded in the Spiegelsaal at the Opernhaus Zürich premiering on Sunday. This one is ticketed ($10 in aid of Highlands Opera Studio). Tickets here.
Kathy Domoney has a new series of Opera Breaks coming up. You can check out previous Opera Breaks here, which is also where the new stuff will eventually appear. The schedule is:
June 12th – “Dite alla giovine”, La Traviata ( Verdi) duet – Natalya Gennadi, soprano & Dion Mazerolle, baritone
June 26th – “ Green Finch and Linnet Bird”, Sweeney Todd ( Sondheim) – Caitlin Wood, soprano
July 10th – “Crudel! perché finora”, Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) duet – Caitlin Wood, soprano & Clarence Frazer, baritone
July 26th – “ Vilia” , The Merry Widow ( Léhar) – Natalya Gennadi, soprano
There’s also been a sorta, kinda “season announcement” from the COC. You can find it and Perryn Leach’s take on it on the COC Youtube channel. Basically there’s going to be free, live streamed content from the Four Seasons Centre in the fall using the kit I talked about in discussing the COC/NBC’s digital strategy back when. What it is, whether there will be any kind of in-house audience and what happens after Christmas we have to wait until August to find out.
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!