There was another not entirely conventional show last night though, on account of being singular, I had to wait until this morning to watch it. It was Tapestry Opera’s Improvisation as Life featuring pianist Robi Botos improvising on the Bösendorfer Imperial while Art Battle champion Moses Salihou painted. It’s a very interesting concept and another example of a company creating a show that translates well to on-line delivery. I’m not well versed in piano improvisation but I found it interesting and enjoyable and was somewhat surprised (I don’t know why really) that Botos made use of extended piano techniques as well as the keyboard. The art work was pretty cool too.
Just a quick round up of what’s happening on Youtube that I haven’t written about recently.
Opera Revue continues to produce weekly short videos. The latest looks like it’s going to be the first in a series of numbers from their Blitzkrieg Cabaret show at the Dakota Tavern back before the flood.
The Toronto Summer Music Festival is off. Not a surprise but it’s the furthest forward I’ve yet seen for cancellations. I think it indicates that there will be a fair amount of lead time required before anybody can schedule anything for sure which likely doesn’t bode well for the Fall seasons. Also off is Tapestry’s Rocking Horse Winner; at least as far as live performances with audience are concerned. Rehearsals are going ahead remotely so we’ll see what Michael Mori and co. manage to pull out of the hat this time!
So finally to see a show I’ve been thinking about a lot; TapEX:Augmented. It’s simultaneously a show about technology and about using technology in the opera house. The plot concerns the product launch of Elysium; a cloud based afterlife using machine learning to curate (and augment) the customer’s best memories and create their ideal eternity.
I sat down today with Michael Mori and Debi Wong; the co-directors of Tapestry’s upcoming show TapEX: Augmented Opera to talk about the show and issues around it. The TapEX series is all about low cost, low risk experimentation. Previous shows have combined opera with punk, turntables and Persian rapping. This time it’s about exploring ways of using digital technology to enhance opera performance and enable the creation of new kinds of opera. It’s also about how can technology be incorporated in an affordable way. Conventional studio produced VR comes in around $30,000 per minute which might be OK for the Royal Shakespeare Company but is way out of reach of an indie company. And, of course, it can’t be about the technology itself. It needs to be about how we create art with it.
Tapestry and the COC collaborated for yesterday’s concert in the RBA. The performers were members of the Ensemble Studio. The material was a mix of numbers from the Tapestry back catalogue plus a couple of songs by COC composer in residence Ian Cusson.
On the 14th at 1.30pm in Walter Hall Jane Archibald and Liz Upchurch are giving a recital under the auspices of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (so this isn’t a free concert). The 15th sees the opening of a run of a “play with music” from Theatre Gargantua called The Wager which will run at Theatre Passe Muraille from the 14th (preview) to the 30th. It promises to be a “bold and irreverent investigation into the strange things that people believe”. It’s written by Michael Spence and directed by Jacquie PA Thomas and the cast includes Teiya Kasahara.
This is what would happen if the opera singing love child of Noel Coward and Sylvia Plath was encouraged by his therapist to perform on “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids”. – Isaiah Bell
Isaiah Bell’s The Book of My Shames has something in common with Teiya Kasahara’s Queer of the Night. Both are one queer shows dealing very directly and honestly with aspects of being queer and both are very impressive singers. There perhaps the comparison pretty much ends for while Teiya’s show was about the tribulations of being gay in the opera world Isaiah’s piece is about growing up gay in a seriously dysfunctional environment.