Bandits in the Valley

No, it’s not an opera about how Toronto city council and staff and their contractors managed to turn a minor realignment of a cycle path into a multi-year, multi-million dollar project.  That one is still to be written.  This one is a Tapestry production at Todmorden Mills.  A local bandit group that strangely doesn’t include John Tory, aided by a troupe of travelling Gilbert & Sullivan players attempt to steal a mysterious object from a wealthy citizen’s home in the Don Valley.  The cast is much more talented and better looking than Mr. Tory and includes Keith Klassen, Jennifer Taverner, Jacques Arsenault, Alex Dobson, Sara Schabas, and (monkey girl) Stephanie Tritchew.  It plays weekends in September at various lunch to afternoonish times and tickets are free but must be booked in advance here.

If you are planning to bike to the show you can either take the city’s official lethal Lower Don bypass or the actual Lower Don Trail ignoring the “closed” signs.  A friend tells me it’s perfectly feasible.

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Recent announcements

There have been a few announcements over the last week or two.  First up is a fund raiser for the music and social outreach programmes at St. Andrew by the Lake.  St. Andrew by the Lake is the Anglican church that serves Toronto Islands and as everyone in Toronto knows this has been a tough summer for island dwellers and, among other things it’s messed up the usual summer music program at St. Andrew.  The fundraiser is at Christ Church Deer Park on Thursday 24th August at 7.30pm.  The concert features the Canzona Chamber Players with Evan Mitchell conducting and Rachel Krehm as soprano soloist in performances of Mozart, Gounod, Charpentier and Brahms.  More details and tickets at http://www.standrewbythelake.com 

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Sweat, Sweat, Sweat

Back to see Bicycle Opera Project’s production of Sweat last night as it opened a run of four performances in Toronto on a suitably diaphoretic Toronto evening.  This time we were at the Aki Studio in the Daniels Spectrum complex.  It’s quite a small theatre but has the proper complement of lighting and so on to permit a richer staging than when I saw it in Hamilton.  Other than to note that proper lighting definitely helps the atmospherics I haven’t got much to add to my review of the show at WAHC.  I guess with three weeks touring the show has got a little more polished but it’s fine detail stuff.  So, to summarise, it’s an excellent piece with a well crafted libretto and a sophisticated score which is realized expertly despite the significant amount of movement that has to be synched with the music.  It’s a real step up in ambition and execution for BOP.  You should see it if you can.

Whose opera is it anyways?!

Whose opera is it anyways?! is a comedy-improv-opera show from LooseTEA Theatre’s Alaina Viau.  Last night saw the second in what is being projected as a monthly series at the Comedy Bar on Bloor West.  So how does it work?  The “games” and associated players are decided in advance but each usually requires some kind of audience input such as a place or a mood or even the messages on someone’s phone.  The team then act out and sing a sketch on the prescribed lines.  Natasha Fransblow provided accompaniment on keyboards, though how much of that was planned and how much improvised I couldn’t tell.  In between numbers Jonathan McArthur MC’d accompanied by really obnoxiously loud pop music (not helped by the speaker basically being in my left ear).

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Artsong ReGENERATION 2

Yesterday we got the second recital by the song fellows of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  In the week since the first concert they have been working with mentor Soile Isokoski and it showed in the programming.  There was quite a bit of Strauss and more Finnish and Swedish music than I have ever heard in such a recital.  Among other things this highlighted just how difficult Strauss songs are to sing well.  They are exceedingly tricky yet have to sound absolutely effortless.  Three of the four sopranos on show tried.  None of them succeeded completely(*).  So it goes.  And so to the details.

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Upcoming

The Ukrainian Art Song Project have a couple of events coming up.  There’s an opportunity to audit the Summer Institute at the Temerty Theatre at the RCM on August 9th through 11th.  Advance registration is required but it’s free.  The concluding concert is on Sunday 13th August at 3pm also in the Temerty.  Tickets are $25 from the RCM box office or their website.  The nine singers include: Taras Chmil, Tenor; Natalya Gennadi, Soprano; Laura McAlpine, Mezzo-Soprano; David McCune, Bass; Viktoriia Melynk, Soprano; Tasha Meisami-Farivar, Mezzo-Soprano; Ariane Meredith, Mezzo-Soprano, Andrew Skitko, Tenor and Oleksandra Verzole, Soprano. They will interpret the works of Ukrainian composers, including Vasyl Barvinsky, Mykola Lysenko and Yasiv Stepovyi.

Meanwhile on July 27th LooseTEA have another improv night with the second Whose Opera is it Anyway?! at the Comedy Bar at 945 Bloor West.  Tickets are $12 from the Comedy Bar website.  Performers include Greg Finney, Lindsay Sutherland Boal, Adanya Dunn, Jonathan MacArthur, Rachel Krehm, Amanda Cougan, Jeff Boyd, Gillian Grossman and Erin Stone.

Soile Isokoski in recital

Last night, at Walter Hall, Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski and pianist Martin Katz gave a recital as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  The programme of Schumann, Wolf, Strauss and Sibelius was an object lesson in restraint and elegance.  There were no histrionics or gimmicks, just very fine, subtly expressive singing and brilliantly supportive pianism.

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