Beautiful Helen

Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, given in English translation, opened at Toronto Operetta Theatre last night.  The production by Guillermo Silva-Marin is an uncomplicated and fast paced romp.  There a few cuts.  The scene with Orestes and his girls for instance is gone and the dialogue, as is the norm, is gently updated with a Facebook reference and an allusion to a certain orange real estate magnate.

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Freddy’s Tune

phrygiangateLast night’s Soundstreams concert at Trinity St. Paul’s riffed off the basic idea of Bach’s Musical Offering; getting musicians to create music on a theme with a high improvisory element.  The line up was the Gryphon Trio (Roman Borys, cello; James Parker, piano; Annalee Patipatanakoon, violin), SlowPitchSound (aka Cheldon Paterson); turntables, Dafnis Prieto; drum kit, Scott Good; trombone, conductor and Roberto Occhipiniti; bass.  Things started out with SlowPitchSound remixing prerecorded fragments of the Musical Offering with live interventions by the trio.  It was interesting and fun though whether it revealed “secret messages” I really couldn’t tell.  The turntables reappeared between items in the rest of the program in very short fragments that seemed too cursory to have much to say.

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Opera for Disaster Relief

I have spent most of the last two decades working in healthcare.  Most of that has been at the high tech, big dollar end of the business and one thing one learns in that world is that the big dollars are big.  Sometimes one questions the large salaries of hospital administrators and ministry “off scale” bureaucrats.  Sometimes one asks whether spending very large sums to provide a marginal life extension of poor quality makes any sense.  Always one is aware that much of the money spent that way could have a much greater impact elsewhere.  Nobody would deny that a dollar spent on providing emergency medicine in a disaster area or conflict zone goes a lot further than a dollar spent on the latest experimental chemotherapy or dubious IT mega-project.  That’s why I, personally, support Médecins Sans Frontières and why I was so glad that to say thanks for their shiny new piano acquisition, Tapestry decided to stage a concert benefitting MSF and local “first responder” charity Global Medic.

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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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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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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.