Little did I suspect on March 12th 2020, as I attended UoT Opera’s Mansfield Park, that I would not review another live concert until July 14th 2021 but that’s how the COVID crumbled. Today I made it to one of Tapestry’s Box Concerts at CAMH on Queen Street. It was much more fun than my last visit which was for a meeting on infection control in the basement of the dreary old building, now demolished.
Do you remember back when real live musicians used to perform for a real live audience? Well some mad dudes are trying to revive it. Tapestry Opera have some shows in conjunction with Canadian Stage coming up in High Park. July 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th you can catch the show “Box Concerts” that Tapestry have been taking around health care facilities and offering for private booking. It’s PWYC. Booking is via Canadian Stage. Also on the 17th at 3pm there’s an extended program including excerpts from Rocking Horse Winner where Asitha Tennekoon will be joined by Midori Marsh and Lucia Cesaroni. That’s $50 booked at the same page.
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz
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.
Where Do I Go? is the latest on-line offering from Tapestry Opera. It’s an eight minute film followed by ten minutes or so of cast interviews. The concept originates with the multi-talented Morgan Paige-Melbourne who wrote the music and words, plays piano, sings, speaks and dances on the film. She’s supported by dancer Natasha Poon-Woo and percussionist Adam Kaleta. Michael Mori directs.
Our Song d’Hiver is Tapestry Opera’s latest on-line offering. It’s a little over an hour long and features Mireille Asselin exploring French-English bilingualism and biculturalism as it manifests itself from l’Acadie to the Ottawa valley with a bit of Provence thrown in for good measure. It’s very cleverly done and the production values are high. In places it’s very funny and in others impossibly sad. There are lovely performances by Mimi and pianist Frédéric and guest appearances from guitarists Maxim and Gervais Cormier, poet Élise Gauthier and composers Ian Cusson and Marie-Claire Saindon.
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!
The latest set of “guidelines” from the Government of Ontario will no doubt be interpreted in various ways but one thing is clear they are affecting some organisations production schedules and there have been cancellations and postponements notably from the Royal Conservatory and Tapestry Opera. Frankly the situation is too muddy and too fluid for me to bother with updates to schedules right now. All I can suggest is that if you are planning to watch any Toronto produced streams keep checking the company websites for news on what is and isn’t happening.
Right now January is looking a bit thin. All I have booked right now are:
- January 8th at 7.30pm. The Glenn Gould School’s postponed fall opera show. It’s Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins and Bolcom’s Lucrezia. That’s going to be streamed free on the Koerner Hall performance website.
- January 13th at 6pm is the next concert in the Confluence series. It’s The Mandala – The Beauty of Impermanence and it’s curated by Suba Shankaran. Also free and streamed on the Confluence Youtube channel.
- January 30th at 8pm. Tapestry’s next offering. It’s called A Joke Before the Gallows and features pianist Adam Sherkin performing Chopin’s four masterpiece scherzi alongside monologues written by David James Brock. The show is described as “blackly funny and thought-provoking” and is directed by Tom Diamond. Also free, also on Youtube.
There will likely be additions as the moth goes on as people seem to put stuff up with very little advance notice!
Tapestry 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.
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”.