Check your dates

clear-as-mud-nThe 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.

January preview

ggsjan2021Right 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!

Rocking Horse Winner – the recording

rhwTapestry 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.

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SOS Sketch Opera Singers

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”.

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More upcoming on-line content

confluencecreativityMy sense of time, or rather lack of one, has made these “upcoming” posts a bit irregular.  So anyway these are things I haven’t mentioned so far.

  • Tonight at 7pm on Youtube, Confluence Concerts present the Hutcheons with a talk on Creativity and Aging based on their book Four Last Songs.  I’ve read the book and had  (used to have) some of the best conversations with Doctors Linda and Michael so this should be good.  Musical excerpts from Messiaen and Leonard Cohen will be performed by Larry Beckwith, Robert Kortgaard and Patricia O’Callaghan.  Free.
  • Wednesday at 8pm on Youtube it’s Tapestry with SOS – Sketch Opera Singers episode 1.  Singing peas on a dinner plate. The inner thoughts of evil babies. An attention-starved man who bursts into dramatic song whenever he steps into a light. Check out the teaser that’s already up on Youtube.  Also free.
  • Saturday at 7pm is Opera Atelier’s Something Rich and Strange which is a baroque pasticcio.  It’s streamed via the Koerner Hall streaming site and tickets are $25.  Check out OA’s website for details.
  • December 13th at 8pm is Against the Grain’s multicultural Messiah/Complex.  Free but registration required.
  • December 17th at 8pm is Soundstreams’ Electric Messiah.. This is the latest iteration of what has become an annual event but reenvisaged for the web.  I was on a Zoom call last Monday with the director and music director.  Sounds like it should be good.  Also free but registration required.

The usual suspects (check earlier posts for recommendations) are still also mostly producing new content.

A few thoughts on web content

I last saw a live show in a theatre on March 13th.  Eight months later I’ve watched a lot of web content as well as continuing to review commercial opera recordings.  A month ago I wrote in Opera Canada that “there’s no substitute for live” and I stand by that view.  I do think though that there’s an opportunity and a need to rethink how opera and song is produced for webstreaming.

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Virtual – new and upcoming

Things I’ve seen recently or plan to see include:

Seen recently:

  • Two more spooky shorts from Tapestry Opera and Red Truck productions.  If you had any lingering doubts about Keith Klassen’s sanity these should take care of them!  That said, the technical quality of these is amazing. (Tapestry Youtube channel).
  • A COVID flavoured Halloween special from Opera Revue.  (Opera Revue’s Youtube channel)
  • A recording and video presentation by the Kingston Symphony of Dean Burry’s Nijmegen Bridge 1944.  It’s a homage to the Canadians who died liberating the Netherlands and it’s well worth hearing.  There are also more Harmon in Space episodes.  (Kingston Symphony Youtube channel)

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News roundup

mirrormirrorTonight Essential Opera have a short livestream of a new creation.  It’s a fifteen minute piece on the theme of Snow White called Mirror, Mirror.  Words and music are by Anna Pidgorna.  It’s being screened on Youtube and Facebook at 7pm EST.

Tapestry Opera is offering a full-time, paid, multi-year professional opportunity to female-identifying and non-binary music directors and conductors in partnership with Pacific Opera Victoria and leading orchestral partner the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with over 10 other Canadian opera companies and orchestras for national placements.  All the details on the programme and the application process are here.

The Royal Conservatory of Music have announced a metric shedload of cancellations, alterations and postponements relative to their 2020/21 season.  All the details are here.  In any event, if you were planning on seeing anything live or via webstream from the RCM I’d double check!

Suzie Leblanc has a new website.  You can check it out here.

Improvisation as Life

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.

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You turns

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.

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