Yesterday I caught the last of three performances of Tomás Bretón’s La Verbena de la Paloma given by Toronto Operetta Theatre at the St.Lawrence Centre. It’s a zarzuela. What’s that you may ask. In short it’s the native Spanish form of operetta. Based on what I saw yesterday it has the following elements; a love story with a complication that resolves happily, spoken dialogue, musical numbers including traditional Spanish folk/dance pieces and elements of the commedia dell’arte. These latter included an older man lusting after a much younger girl )actually a pair of them), a jealous lover who is tested by his sweetheart and a bumbling policeman.
But first this month… on April 27th to 29th male soprano Samuel Mariño is appearing with
Tafelmusik in a programme titled Higher Love: Virtuoso Arias. Details here.
Crow’s Theatre has a couple of shows. True Crime opens on the 2nd. It’s a short run. Preview on the 1st then closes on the 7th. It’s basically a one man, semi-improvised show about an imprisoned con man. The Chinese Lady, which runs 5th to 21st (previews 2nd to 4th) in the smaller Studio Theatre tells the story of the first Chinese woman in the USA. Written by Lloyd Suh and directed by Marjorie Chan it should be interesting. There’s also Boom X. Rick Miller plays over a hundred characters to narrate events from 1969 t0 1995. It runs from the 10th to the 28th. More details at crowstheatre.com.
Toronto Operetta Theatre opened a run of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at the St. Lawrence Centre yesterday. It’s a revival of their 2018 production and I don’t think my opinion of the production has really changed. The jokes have been updated a bit; mostly to reflect the anticipated imprisonment of a certain former US president (I wish!). But basically the schtick is the same.
Toronto Operetta Theatre opened a run of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at the St. Lawrence Centre last night. Guillermo Silva-Marin gives it a pretty conventional treatment with minimal scenery, “Greek” costumes and no big surprises. It’s sung in English which has pros and cons for while the dialogue is intelligible enough the comprehensibility of the sung part is a bit variable.
October 1st at 7.30pm at Trinity St. Paul’s Toronto Mendelssohn Singers have a concert of (mainly) contemporary a cappella music titled The Pilgrim’s Way. This is a new initiative in which the professional core of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir will perform as a 24 person ensemble. I’m quite fond of good professional choirs singing interesting stuff (see CD and concert reviews of The Crossing and LA Master Chorale).
Opera Atelier open a run of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas on the 20th at 7.30pm at the Elgin Theatre. Meghan Lindsey and Colin Ainsworth are the lovers. Also on the 21st and 23rd.
Toronto Operetta Theatre will perform Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld on the 21st at 8pm at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The cast includes Vania Chan, Tonatiuh Abrego, Gregory Finney, Joshua Clemenger, River Guard and Mairi Demings. Also playing on the 22nd and 23rd.
There are a few season announcements piling up in the in box….
First up is the always interesting Confluence Concerts series. It’s an eight show line-up:
September 24th at 3pm and 8pm at 918 Bathurst the awesome trio of Marion Newman, Patricia O’Callaghan and Suba Sankaran have a recital including a new piece by Ian Cusson and André lexis called The Drawing Room and featuring a possibly recognisable trio of sisters.
October 12th at .7:30pm at St. Thomas’ Church, 383 Huron Street, Cellist Elinor Frey brings a group of virtuoso musicians from Montreal and Europe for music by Luigi Boccherini and contemporaries.
November 23rd and 24th at 7:30pm at Heliconian Hall, Suba Sankaran curates an 80th birthday concert for master drummer Trichy Sankaran featuring the man himself and many of his students.
December 5th at 7:30pm at The Atrium at Shaftsbury Place, the walter Unger salon will feature A Confluence Christmas.
Sometime in February next year at a time and place yet to be determined Marion Newman will present Tłabat’si (Copper Box) featuring Indigenous classical musicians from across Turtle island in a series of concerts, panels and other events.
April 7th and 8th at 7:30pm at Heliconian Hall, Andrew Downing will present Songs of Syria; a program of the music of Syria, featuring members of the Canadian Arabic Orchestra.
May 26th and 27th at 7:30pm at Heliconian Hall will see the season finale, All the Diamonds, featuring words and music inspired by the night sky.
Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream opened last night in a Toronto Operetta theatre production at the St. Lawrence Centre. The piece premiered in Vienna in 1907 and soon became a huge international hit with various English versions appearing quite early on. The version given by TOT appears to be a 1970s version with book by Michael Flanders, Edmund Tracey and Bernard Dunn and the music adapted and arranged by Ronald Hanmer.
June 17th/18th/19th Toronto Operetta Theatre are presenting Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
June 19th at 4.30pm Opera Revue have a Father’s day show at the Emmett Ray.
June 24th the Happenstancers have a concert at 918 Bathurst. It’s Pierrot themed with Danika Loren singing the obvious Schoenberg work plus moon themed music by Saariaho, Sokolovic and the Saskatchewan Songbird herself. One not to miss IMHO
June 25th at Crow’s theatre Soundstreams are presenting Noam Bierstone and guests in Percussion Theatre. It’s described as “a curated concert experience exploring the concept of instrumental theatre: the music doesn’t just accompany an action, the music is the action”
A Northern Lights Dream is a new operetta by Michael Rose which premiered this last week at Toronto Operetta Theatre in a production directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin. A new operetta is a very rare thing. It;’s just not a form that contemporary composers seem to take to. There’s far too much spoken dialogue for an opera but the musical language; mostly tonal, often quite beautiful but not afraid to get more abrasive when appropriate, is much closer to that of contemporary opera than musical theatre. So an operetta it is.
There’s a fair number of shows appearing at fairly short notice as people scramble to adapt to relaxing regulations so this post will contain events for April not previously noted plus a look forward to May.
April 26th at 7.30 pm Likht Ensemble have a free Holocaust Remembrance Day concert at Mazzoleni Hall.
April 28th at 8pm at St. Andrews on King St. Soundstreams are reprising the Vivier Lovesongs concert that was done as a stream last fall.
April 29th at 7.30pm at 918 Bathurst The Happenstancers have a concert featuring music by Julia Wolfe, Nahre Sol, Kaija Saariaho, Gyorgy Kurtag, Oliver Knussen, and WA Mozart.