Majesty, Murder and Madness

Friday night I went to see Teiya Kasahara and Stephanie Yelovich’s recital at First Unitarian.  Unusually for a voice and piano (Mark-Anthony Del Brocco) recital it was essentially all bel canto; a mix of Bellini and Verdi songs with some Donizetti opera excerpts (plus a duet from Norma as an encore).  It would be unusual programming for almost anyone and I was frankly a bit surprised because I don’t think of either singer as a bel canto specialist and, Teiya’s Lucia aside, a bel canto singer at all really.

I know that the event was a fundraiser to help pay for their summer in Italy studying mainly this rep and I guess, wherever one is headed as a singer, being able to sing bel canto well is an asset.  So maybe, to use a rugby analogy, it wasn’t so surprising that this felt a bit more like the training field than a competitive game; especially when the duets were both mezzo/soprano pieces being sung by two sopranos.

Both these young ladies have big voices.  Teiya in particular has real power, as well as coloratura chops, so perhaps she’s on the way to being that rare voice that can sing Norma and the Tudor queens.  Who knows?  Stephanie’s future probably lies north of the Alps though and it’s potentially a bright one.  I’ve seen these two ladies separately and together in contemporary works and they were really, really good.  Bel canto‘s not my sweet spot so maybe that’s part of the problem but I’m really not convinced it’s theirs either.

Late listing

tkTeiya Kasahara and Stephanie Yelovich have a couple of recitals this week.  The show is billed as Majesty, Madness and Murder and will feature Italian opera and art song.  Mark-Anthony Del Brocco will accompany.  It’s a fund raiser for the girls to study in Italy this summer and it’s pay-by-donation.

You can catch them tomorrow night at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, 320 Charlton Ave W, Hamilton or on Friday at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, 175 St. Clair Ave W, Toronto.  Both shows start at 7.30pm.

When the Sun Comes Out

tkIt’s World Pride Week in Toronto and as far as I know Tamar Iveri isn’t in town.  What is, is the Toronto premier of When the Sun Comes Out by Leslie Uyeda and Rachel Rose presented by Queer Innovative Theatre; a group of LGBTTIQQ2SA (WTF BBQ!) performers.  Unsurprisingly the piece treats of same sex relationships.  It’s a love triangle with a twist.  Solana (Teiya Kasahara) is a foot loose wandering lesbian who has fallen in love with a married woman, Lilah (Stephanie Yelovich) who, unfortunately, lives in a dystopia where same sex relationships are a capital offence.  Their relationship, and their lives, are threatened by Lilah’s jealous husband Javan (Keith Lam).  But he too has a secret in his past.  They also have a daughter who neither will give up making simple resolution of the relationship issues impossible.

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When the Sun Comes Out

kasaharaLeslie Uyeda’s opera, When the Sun Comes Out, which premiered at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival last year is coming to Toronto.  It will be given in concert performance at the Ernest Balmer Studio at the Distillery on June 26th and 27th.  Set in an imaginary country called Fundamentalia, a country where violation of gender roles is punishable by death, When the Sun Comes Out is the story of a love affair between two women, Lilah, a young, sheltered and wealthy married mother, and Solana, a gender outlaw and rebellious outsider just passing through as she’s passed through so many other countries in her restless, futile quest for happiness. In a land where love between women is punishable by death, Lilah and Solana fall in love but their affair is discovered by Lilah’s enraged and unpredictable husband, Javan.

Ensemble Studio graduate Teiya Kasahara, who premiered the role of Solana is joined by Hamilton based soprano Stephanie Yelovich, soprano, who will play the role of Lilah.  Keith Lam, baritone, will play the role of Javan. Opera 5’s Maika’i Nash will act as musical director and pianist. Continue reading


ruthLast night Tapestry and the Wilfred Laurier University Faculty of Music co-presented a workshop of Ruth, a new piece by Jeffrey Ryan to a libretto by Michael Lewis MacLennan.  It’s not exactly an opera, perhaps more like one of Britten’s Church Parables.  It is quite short; one act of nine scenes, six of which were given in full last night with a read through of the three not yet set.  The whole piece lasted maybe an hour.  The emphasis is very much on the voices; three soloists and the choir.  Last night it was given with piano accompaniment but the composer suggested that it would work for either organ and/or a small ensemble.

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