The third SOS – Sketch Opera Singers from Tapestry Opera is now up on Youtube. It’s quite similar to the previous episodes with inspired lunacy from KrossØver (Teiya Kasahara, Keith Klassen, Krisztina Szabó, Korin Thomas-Smith and a snail but definitely not Simone McIntosh). I think it’s a bit darker and a bit weirder than earlier episodes, even a bit surreal in places. The sketch where people are helped through break-ups by soft toys singing well known arias comes to mind. Still, it’s half an hour of (mostly) harmless fun. Definitely worth a watch.
Date with the Divas volume 2 is the latest Youtube offering from Opera Sustenida (Stephanie DeCiantis – soprano and film diva, Nicole Whitney Dubinsky -soprano, Daniella Theresia – mezzo and tech diva and Suzanne Yeo – piano). It’s the first of their shows that I’ve seen. It’s one of those films where everything is recorded in people’s homes and then patched together into a film and it’s as well done as anything in the genre that I’ve seen. The video editing is really good though some sections that were broadcast “live” during the initial streaming were a bit weird sonically. Fortunately that didn’t affect the music.
The most substantial offering I’ve seen this week is a concert from Toronto Summer Music that aired last night. It was a song recital by four of the Toronto’s better known young singers with Steven Philcox on piano. Simona Genga sang some Mahler and some interesting songs by the Basque composer Jésus Gurudi (new to me!). Clarence Frazer gave us excerpts from Die Schöne Müllerin plus three songs by Butterworth. No prizes for guessing which three but they were well done. Jamie Groote sang a set of Jake Heggie songs plus Strauss’ Beim Schlafengehen. Always excellent to hear Strauss sung well. Asitha Tennekoon rounded things off with a set from Wolff’s Mörike Lieder and songs by Holman (Fair Daffodils; obligatory CanCon), Gurney and Finzi. It’s all high class stuff and there’s about 90 minutes of singing. The platform is Vimeo and it looks and sounds good. It’s free and available here.
It seems like less on-line “opera” content is being produced as Europe prepares to return to theatres and Canada holds it breath. A few things are ongoing though and there’s fun new content from Natalya Gennadi and friends with HBD!Project April. More fine singing and stunning graphics.
There’s also Isolation Series: Wash, Dry, Reset from Opera Revue featuring the mordant wit and musical talents of Dani Friesen, Alexander Hajek and Claire Harris, plus dish detergent and popcorn. Both are on Youtube on channels Natalya Gennadi and Opera Revue respectively.
Once more the week’s Youtube offerings show that digital works best when it’s “made for digital”. Who’d a thunk it eh! Anyway there’s very watchable new content on Youtube from Alexander Hajek, Opera Revue and Domoney Artists. Best of all though is a new short film called Sempra Libera from Carsen Gilmore and the very good soprano Michelle Drever. If you like the look and feel of Morte you’ll love this. It’s really dark. It’s the grimmest take on Violetta I’ve seen; Natalie Dessay included!
Back in 2018 I wrote about the Yiddish Glory project including a concert at Koerner Hall and a CD. Well, Anna Shternshis and her team are back with more music from the ghettos, in particular Pechora Camp in Transnistria. This time it’s themed around the typhus epidemic of 1941/2 and the impact it had on the camp’s inmates. The music and accompanying narrative feature in a short but interesting Youtube video. There’s dark humour here especially in the song I’m a Typhus Louse which personifies the disease in a way that’s curiously similar to Spitting Image‘s portrayal of COVID. Like most Holocaust related material it’s not easy to watch but it’s a compelling story with interesting music which is beautifully and wittily performed. The filming is rather good too and the technical quality is excellent. All the performers are fully credited on the video so I’ll not duplicate that information here.
Ontario’s state of emergency seems to have slowed the production of on-line content to a trickle. The only new things I’ve seen recently are from the ever reliable Opera Revue and Alexander Hajek.
Opera Revue’s eighth isolation production features five pieces from Frank Horvat’s Music for Self Isolation; a set of thirty one short pieces for one or two musicians written last spring. The concert features the five pieces with a vocal part. I have to say I liked the texts; taken from various sources, more than the music. The music is sort of “singer sonwriterish”; simple, tonal, melodic, a bit repetitive. It’s fine of its type but it’s not my bag. Performances by various combos of sopranos Emily Ding and Dani Friesen, pianist Claire Harris and guitarist Michael McKenzie are very nice though and the recording; despite being done via Zoom, is perfectly acceptable. The music may not be entirely my thing but I’m delighted that someone is doing projects like this. You can find it on Opera Revue’s channel on Youtube.
Alex Hajek’s contribution is another intriguing Toronto based film this time featuring Der Doppelgänger from Scubert’s Schwanengesang. It’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to and, again, featurers Claire Harris on piano as well as Alex’ lovely baritone. This one’s on Youtube too. The channel is Alexander Hajek.
Over the next few months Tapestry will be offering three new shows recorded in the Ernest Balmer Studio and streamed via Youtube. The line up is:
A Joke Before the Gallows: Pianist Adam Sherkin performs a musical story celebrating the dramatic music of Chopin, directed by Tom Diamond, with text by David James Brock, in co-production with The Piano Lunaire. That premiers on January 30th.
Our Song D’Hiver: Soprano Mireille Asselin explores her connection to the shared and unique elements of English-speaking and French-speaking culture. Premiers February 27th.
Where Do I Go?: Pianist Morgan-Paige Melbourne offers up a unique multidisciplinary performance combining piano with dance. That goes live on March 27th.
The sixth iteration of Soundstreams’ Electric Messiah unsurprisingly morphed from a live show in the intimate setting of the Drake Underground to a streamed video recorded on location in various places in Toronto. There is much that was the same as previously and some interesting differences. The selection of arias and choruses is very similar to previous years starting with “Comfort Ye”; arranged for all four singers and finishing up with “Hallelujah”.
On Thursday evening the members of COC’s Ensemble Studio collaborated to create an on-line concert called Songs of Hope. All the current Ensemble members plus Liz Upchurch took part in an extremely eclectic programme MC’d by Simone Osborne. There was “classic” art song with Jamie Groote singing Britten’s arrangement of Burns’ Highland Balou. Joel Allison sang Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams; a test piece for any Anglo baritone inviting comparison with the likes of Thomas Allen and Bryn Terfel. He passes the test in my book. Very fine singing indeed. Vartan Gabrielan gave us a rare chance to hear a genuine bass singing Schubert; in this case Ständchen. The different timbre is an interesting and welcome change.