COC 2016/17

AlexanderNeefThe Canadian Opera Company released its annual report and accounts for 2016/17 last night.  The big news was the extension of General Director Alexander Neef’s tenure to the end of the 2025/26 season.  The financial news was basically “same old same old”.  Ticket sales once again showed a small decline which was compensated for by record fundraising performance to yield, essentially, a break even.

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Bandits in the Valley

Bandits in the Valley opened yesterday at Todmorden Mills.  It’s a site specific comic opera with words by Julie Tepperman and music by Benton Roark.  The time is 1880.  Sir George Taylor is the owner of the most productive paper mill in the British Empire but he wants more.  Specifically he wants to convert the entire Don Valley to paper thus depriving the pesky bandits thereof of cover.  He also wants Lily Pollard, the comely soprano lead of the travelling company he has engaged to stage The Pirates of Penzance as part of the mill’s 25th anniversary celebrations.  He’s not the only one after Lily.  She’s also the target of the female head of the troupe, Henri, and of Jeremiah, the bandit chief who is trying to obtain his inheritance.  He in turn is pursued by the house maid (and his cousin) Birgitta and, in a purely brotherly way of course, another bandit, Freddy.  In proper comic opera fashion a birthmark, naturally enough on Jeremiah’s buttock, is involved.  Mayhem ensues.

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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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Need some opera for Canada Day?

Well maybe not quite opera but opera related anyway.  Bicycle Opera have a fundraiser karaoke session at the Burdock brewpub (Bloor and Dufferin) from 5pm to 7pm which leaves lots of time for whatever else you have planned that night.  Here’s what’s on offer:

  • Catch a teaser of Sweat – get a sneak peak of this a cappella opera that’s touring Ontario in July and August
  • Enjoy a beer
  • Pedal a bicycle power generator hooked up to a karaoke machine!
  • Try a tune or two while pedalling to power your mic.
  • Enjoy opera singer friends of Bicycle Opera as they serenade you with their favourite guilty pleasures!
  • Make Geoff Sirett bike and sing at the same time!

Tickets are $25 in advance ($23 plus $2 online fee) and $30 at the door.
Tickets include a delicious Burdock craft beer!

Tickets available at: http://burdockto.com/musichall

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Patchy Andrea Chénier

What’s become of David McVicar?  His 2015 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier for the Royal Opera House seems typical of his recent work.  It looks expensive.  It features a starry cast.  He flirts with dramatic risk but in the last analysis it comes off as a bit tame and even sloppy.  Basically when the principals are at the centre of the drama it’s compelling stuff but when they are not it’s not and there are curious inconsistencies.

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Not dead yet…

kitty-resp-maskSorry if, after the preview listing, anyone was expecting a review of Karina Gauvin and Tafelmusik last night.  I was scheduled to go but, for only the second time ever, I had to bail.  I have a cough that should not be inflicted on any concert venue or audience.  If things improve in the next 48 hours I’ll try and catch one of the later shows.

ETA: Hacking cough developed into flu like symptoms through Friday and Saturday.  On the mend today I think but still not safe to be let loose in a concert hall.