As we head into summer, as usual, things start to quieten down. I only have five shows in my schedule for the month of June:
June 2nd, 4th and 5th Toronto City Opera are presenting Cavalleria Rusticana at the Fleck Dance Theatre. It’s the usual TCO format; piano accompaniment, amateur chorus, young professional soloists. Jennifer Tung conducts.
June 2nd, 3rd, 4th at &.30pm at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre it’s the latest iteration of Teiya Kasahara’s The Queen in Me. It looks like this time it may be with small ensemble rather than just piano. There’s a promo video on the COC’s Youtube channel.
June 3rd to 10th (preview June 2nd) at Crow’s Theatre it’s Maxime Beauregard-Martin’s Singulières; a play about “single ladies” in Quebec. It’s in French with English surtitles (and/or 3D glasses).
June 5t at 4pm at Grace Church on the Hill, Soundstreams are presenting a homage to the late R. Murray Schaefer. This one is free but registration is required.
June 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th at 8pm at Roy Thomson Hall the TSO are presenting Beethoven’s ninth symphony with an impressive line up of soloists including Rihab Chaieb. It’s coupled with three short premiers including a piece by Adam Scime.
That’s about it until Toronto Summer Music opens on July 7th.
Here are a couple more shows I missed one way or another.
Tomorrow (October 29th) at 7pm the second of Confluence’s Bach cello suites concerts will be streamed on Youtube.
Saturday November 13th at3 pm at St. Andrew’s Church in Toronto and Friday November 19th at 7.30pm at People’s Theatre for the Performing Arts in Markham, Toronto City Opera are doing Verdi’s <em>Nabucco</em> in concert. It’s the usual formula; young local singers, volunteer choir and piano accompaniment. There will be no surtitles but the libretto will be available plus a narrator. More details here.
A couple of “season” announcements have come in. Inverted commas because it’s all rather provisional with more details to come. Opera Atelier is offering a virtual summer/fall season with a reprise of Handel’s Resurrection from July 29th through August 12th. This time there is a Standard Audio Description; a tool for blind and partially sighted people. The fall sees the final version of Edwin Huizinga’s Angel released as a film that will stream October 28th through November 12th, The cast includes Measha Brueggergosman, Colin Ainsworth, Mireille Asselin, Jesse Blumberg, Meghan Lindsay, John Tibbetts (Opera Atelier debut), and Douglas Williams. An announcement about a return to in theatre perfomances will be made in January.
The third of Saturday night’s webstreams was Toronto City Opera’s double bill of Menotti’s The Telephone and Poulenc’s La voix humaine. The choice of rep makes sense in that it meant that very few people had to be assembled in the Ernest Balmer Studio where the recordings took place though it also looks a bit odd for a company that in normal times is about participation.
The Menotti is essentially a rather weak joke stretched out for half an hour. A man is trying to propose to a girl but every time he gets close to popping the question she either receives or makes a phone call. I thought it was a bit feeble the first time I saw it and it doesn’t wear well. It doesn’t help that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to marry this utterly boring girl except, perhaps, her utterly banal suitor. I guess the basic problem is that anything trying to be “realistic” from the US in the 50s and 60s is almost bound to be dull as just about any interesting aspect of human life was off limits due to various kinds of censorship. Anyway, I think TCO got as much out of the piece as there is to be got. The contemporary updating had its witty moments and both Nicole Dubinsky and Johnathan Kirby; backed up by Ivan Jovanovic gave strong performances in the singing and acting departments.
I’ve just received news of programming into the fall and beyond from Tapestry, Toronto City Opera and Loose Tea Music Theatre.
Tapestry have announced three livestream concerts to be shown on their Youtube channel.
October 24th 8pm: jazz pianist Robi Botos will be improvising on Tapestry’s amazing Bösendorfer Imperial Grand in live collaboration with an Art Battle Toronto artist, creating something new and unique.
November 7th: The first episode of S.O.S. Sketch Opera Singers. It’s a collection of short opera sketches like the LibLab with an amazing line up of composers, librettists and performers. Check out the details.
November 28th at 8pm there’s a collaboration between husband and wife duo soprano Xin Wang and saxophonist Wallace Halladay directed by Michael Mori and featuring the music of Ana Sokolovic.
Tapestry have also introduced a free “membership program” to create added value for their audience. Details here.
Toronto City Opera’s latest show, at the Al Green Theatre, is Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. It’s a pretty good choice for TCO since, even with cuts, there’s plenty of fun stuff for the chorus to do and Jessica Derventzis’ production keeps a good chunk of them on stage pretty much throughout. The production concept is straightforward. It gets a late 19th century setting and the three acts are framed as presenting Hoffmann’s story to the group of drunken students. It’s unfussy and works.
LooseTEA Theatre have announced their season. November 2nd to 4th, at Heliconian Hall, there’s a double bill of Anne Frank operas. Singing Only Softly music by Cecilia Livingston, libretto by Monica Pearce and Alaina Viau will be presented with The Diary of Anne Frank by Grigory Frid. The singers are Sara Schabas and Gillian Grossman and Cheryl Duvall will be at the piano. Alaina Viau directs. December 3rd to 5th , also at Heliconian, they will present the production version of Carmen #YesAllWomen. (My thoughts on a 2016 WIP version). This version will combine voices (Erica Iris and Keith Klassen), chamber orchestra and turntables (SlowPitchSound). The libretto is by Alaina VIau and Monica Pearce, the music by Samuel Bisson. Alaina Viau directs and Scott Christian conducts. Tickets for both shows are available at www.looseteamusictheatre.com.
Toronto City Opera opened a run of three performances of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Al Green Theatre last night. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Certainly less even than their Le nozze di Figaro earlier in the season. Director Alaina Viau sets the piece in contemporary Toronto which creates both possibilities and problems. I’ll come back to that because I want to talk about the performances first.
Here are a couple more listings for March. VOICEBOX are doing Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on March 30th at 8pm and March 31st at 2.30pm. The cast includes Beste Kalender, Michael Barrett and Elizabeth DeGrazia. It will be piano accompaniment with Narmina Afandiyeva at the keyboard.
Toronto City Opera are performing Verdi’s La Traviata at the Al Green Theatre on March 28th and 29th at 7.30pm and the 31st at 2,30pm. Alaina Viau directs with a musical team of Ivan Jovanovic and Jennifer Tung. The cast is headed up by Beth Hagerman, Kijong Wi and Handaya Rusli. Apparently it’s a “modern, Toronto setting”. I’m curious to see how the ideas of “a fallen woman”, “family honour” and “arranged marriage” play out.
Toronto City Opera has been around for a while but its previous performance location at the Bickford Centre was quite sufficient to keep me away. The Miles Nadal JCC is quite another matter. The basic idea of TCO is that the chorus is open to, essentially, anybody and that their subscriptions, plus fund raising, allow the company to do a couple of staged shows each year with young professional soloists, director, conductor and pianist. So, in theory it’s a chorus centric endeavour so the choice of Le Nozze di Figaro seems a bit odd since it has less than ten minutes of chorus and that is usually covered by a small group of eight or so ladies. That said, Nozze is their first of two productions this season and I saw the last show in the run this afternoon.