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
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?! 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).
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday I finally managed to do something bike related in conjunction with Bicycle Opera Project’s current tour of Sweat. I got an early train out to Aldershot, biked to Hamilton and joined up with the bike tour of historic Hamilton organised by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre to complement the opera, before seeing the afternoon performance of Sweat at WAHC. I’ll add some bikey/historical observations at the end but since this is an opera blog let’s cut to the chase.