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.
The 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.
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
Sorry 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.
It’s that time of year when one looks back at the previous twelve months and reflects. It’s also customary to produce “best of” lists and the like. So here goes.
In terms of fully staged, large-scale opera productions it wasn’t an especially eventful year. The COC staged six solid, enjoyable productions but nothing that would hit my list of all time favourites. There was open criticism of Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni from the usual suspects and more behind the scenes muttering about Pyramus and Thisbe but I thought both shows were examples of things that needed to happen. We need more contemporary opera and we need bolder takes on established classics. I wrote at length on why I thought the Don Giovanni received such a high degree of scrutiny, often from people who had reviewed Opera Atelier’s Alcina the year before, apparently oblivious to the liberties that were taken there! If I had to pick a favourite from the COC’s line up it would likely be Robert Lepage’s production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung featuring a stellar one woman performance by Krisztina Szabó. Opera Atelier’s offerings were, frankly, so much like virtually every other Opera Atelier production since the Flood as to leave anyone trying to write about them pretty desperate. OA watching has become a bit like Kremlinology. The most minute things are blown up into issues for want of anything else to write about!
The Fall 2015 Opera Canada is out. No performance reviews by me in this one but I do have a profile of countertenor Daniel Cabena and reviews of three CDs; Adrianne Pieczonka singing Wagner and Strauss, Bud Roach singing Italian renaissance songs accompanying himself on guitar and a rerelease of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Resurrection. Lots of good stuff by other people too of course!