Who knew Frosch could be funny?

Toronto Operetta Theatre opened a run of Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at the St. Lawrence Centre last night.  It’s a will crafted production; basically traditional as to costumes and sets and with a generous amount of more topical jokes added to the dialogue (both dialogue and musical numbers are performed in English).  The one thing about it that is a bit different and much to be praised is that the jailer Frosch, played by director Bill Silva-Marin, is actually funny and sings pretty well for a guy who doesn’t sing a lot anymore.  The schtick is that he is obsessed with singing and insists on singing lessons from Alfred (or here Alfredo) when he appears in the jail in place of Eisenstein.  The singing lessons are kind of a parody with plenty of jokes about vocal production and a fair bit of physical humour.  All this is actually set up from the beginning by making Alfred a rather larger role than usual with a fair amount of interpolated snatches of Verdi and Puccini.  It may not sound that radical but it does liven up the third act which all too often can be pretty dull and anti-climactic.

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Tidings

jpeg14Here’s what’s coming up over the holidays and into January.

Toronto Operetta Theatre’s seasonal production this year is Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.  It runs December 28th through January 2nd at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.   The cast includes Lara Ciekiewicz as Rosalinde, Adam Fisher as Eisenstein and Caitlin Wood as Adele. Derek Bate conducts the TOT orchestra and Guillermo Silva-Marin directs.

The 21C Music Festival runs from January 16th to 20th. This time it will celebrate the American minimalist composer Terry Riley, with his music being performed in three of the concerts, including one that he will headline, titled Terry Riley: Live at 85!  Full details at rcmusic.ca.

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Toronto Operetta Theatre 2018/19

fledermaus-121-motivsticker-sticker-aufkleberToronto Operetta Theatre have released preliminary information on their 2018/19 season.  There are three main stage productions at the Jane Mallett Theatre.  First up is Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss which runs December 28th, 2018 to January 2nd, 2019.  There’s been no shortage of Fledermice in Toronto in recent years with Christopher Alden, Aria Umezawa and Joel Ivany all contributing quite individual productions.  I imagine Guillermo Silva-Marin’s treatment will likely be designed to appeal more to the traditionalists!

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Beautiful Helen

Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, given in English translation, opened at Toronto Operetta Theatre last night.  The production by Guillermo Silva-Marin is an uncomplicated and fast paced romp.  There a few cuts.  The scene with Orestes and his girls for instance is gone and the dialogue, as is the norm, is gently updated with a Facebook reference and an allusion to a certain orange real estate magnate.

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Inadvertently omitted

La Belle HeleneIn my April Round up I inadvertently omitted Toronto Operetta Theatre’s upcoming production of Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène which plays April 27th to 29th at the Jane Mallet.  It’s a good looking cast including Beste Kalender, Adam Fisher and Lynn Isnar.  Guillermo Silva-Marin directs and Peter Tiefenbach conducts.  Those few days at the end of the month are insane but it’s probably worth trying to fit this one in.

Toronto Operetta Theatre’s Candide

I’ve been familiar with Voltaire’s satirical novella since I was a teenager and have reread it many times but I’d not seen the Bernstein operetta/musical version until last night when it opened at Toronto Operetta Theatre with, I think, the original Lillian Hellman 1956 book though a later reduced orchestration (I’m guessing on that).  I was very curious because it’s not obvious how one might turn Voltaire’s sequence of drily narrated, utterly absurd scenes into drama.  The answer turns out to be to insert the author as a spoken word narrator linking scenes and play it straight though the two mile high cliffs and sheep get lost in the wash.  Fair enough.  It works pretty well.  The whole thing is reasonably true to the spirit of the original though in places, especially in the musical number, it’s definitely tailored to a 1950s Broadway sensibility.

Beeler lifted

Elizabeth Beeler with company and Tonatiuh Abrego as Candide

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It’s almost 2018

candide2017 draws to a close and we haven’t had a nuclear war (yet).  So it’s time to look ahead to what’s coming up opera and concertwise in January 2018.  But first, there’s one show still to catch in 2017.  Toronto Operetta Theatre opens a run of Bernstein’s Candide tomorrow night at the Jane Mallett.  It stars Tonatiuh Abrego, Vania Chan, Elizabeth Beeler and Nicholas Borg.  There are shows at 8pm on December 28th and 30th and January 5th and 6th with matinées on New Year’s Eve and January 7th.  For the shows on 28th, 5th and 6th you can use code CANDIDE30 to get a 30% discount.  All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!

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