Looking ahead to TapEX: Augmented Opera

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.

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Songbook XL

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.

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Into the second half of of November

Here’s what’s coming up…

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.

The Wager

The cast of The Wager. Photo:Michael Cooper

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The Book of My Shames

headshot-isaiah-bell-2017-websizedThis 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.

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How can I sing to descendants I will never have?

The header is a line from Yvette Nolan’s libretto for Shanawdithit; the work she is creating with composer Dean Burry for Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon, which tells the story of the last survivor of the Beothuk people.  I sat down with them on Friday to talk about how the work has progressed since I saw an incomplete version in workshop last October.  The line really does get to the heart of the creative process that addresses the issues I raised in my review of the workshop (i.e. how we remember and tell stories) and this line, and it’s accompanying music, have become a kind of leitmotiv for the emerging work.

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