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.
Geoff Sirett will sing the main role of Akakiy in the upcoming Tapestry/CanStage premiere of James Rolfe and Morris Panych’s The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring based on the absurdist short story by Gogol. I put some questions to Geoff about him, the piece and his role in it.
Not much sign of spring as we move into the second half of the month but there are some things musical to enjoy while we await the return of the sun. On March 18th at 2pm in Mazzoleni Hall there is You’re Welcome Rossini with the glamorous duo of Allyson McHardy and, the not seen often enough in Toronto, Lucia Cesaroni. This one is officially sold out but there may be rushes. Ten bucks says they do the Cat duet. Continue reading →
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).
So the rumours have been around for a while but today the big announcement about Tapestry’s major project for 2017/18 went public. It’s a joint production with Canadian Stage and Vancouver Opera of an operatic version of Morris Panych’s adaptation of Gogol’s The Overcoat which, as a stage play, won critical acclaim in 1998. The music is by James Rolfe and it will premiere at the Bluma Appel Thaetre in March 2018 before moving to the Vancouver Playhouse as part of the second Vancouver Opera Festival. The idea originated in the 2014 LibLab which produced a very funny scene of a hapless customer being beaten senseless by his tailors. (something that should have happened to Cheetoh Benito long ago).
Last night I saw the second performance of Tapestry’s latest compilation of short works. As before it was a mix of excerpts from works in progress and potential projects plus stand alone short scenes developed during the LibLab. This year there was an additional refinement. The works were staged in different parts of the building (part of the Distillery complex) and samples of the local goodies were provided at strategic points along the way.
Tapestry’s LibLab is a collaborative that brings together composers and librettists to create new work. It provides participants with the opportunity to work with several partners in a short period of time. Throughout the week-long program, writers and composers are partnered with one another for one day each. With input from music and stage directors, each pair writes a short piece of music theatre and investigates the collaborative process. Their work is performed at the end of each day by a resident ensemble of singers and repetiteurs, and then constructively critiqued by the group. The best of the works are polished up for a show later in the year (review of last year’s show) and some go on for further development.
Tapestry Briefs is the product of the Composer-Librettist Workshop run annually by Tapestry. Four composers and four librettists come up with sixteen ideas for a new opera and work up a scene from each. Last night twelve scenes from the most recent workshop were presented in a fully staged format with piano accompaniment in Ernest Balmer Studio and adjacent Distillery spaces. The quartet of singers for the evening was made up of some of Toronto’s top singer/actors; Carla Huhtanen, Krisztina Szabó, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray. Piano accompaniment was from Gregory Oh and Jennifer Tung.