Bicycle Opera Project and Toronto Masque Theatre have announced plans for their upcoming seasons. BOP will be touring Juliet Palmer and Anna Chatterton’s Sweat across Ontario in July and August (details in May). It’s a work about sweatshop labour in the garment industry and is scored for nine voices and no instruments. Sweatwill be directed by Banuta Rubess, conducted by Geoffrey Sirett and designed by Sonja Rainey. The cast includes: Catherine Daniel, Caitlin Wood, Stephanie Tritchew, Christopher Enns, Larissa Koniuk, Justine Owens, Emma Char, Alexandra Beley and Cindy Won. For more information, visit bicycleopera.com
I’m out of town for the first week of November or so so this week’s preview will actually cover two weeks. Lots of endings coming up with the last OA Dido and Aeneas this afternoon and the COC’s fall season closing with Ariodante on Thursday and Norma on Friday. There’s also Centre Stage on Wednesday. I shall be curious to see what people think.
On to next weekend and there are a couple of items of interest. Saturday at 7.30pm and Sunday at 3pm at Grace Church on the Hill Bicycle Opera Project are collaborating with Pax Christi Chorale in performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Here’s the blurb:
In this unique presentation of a classic oratorio, Bicycle Opera’s singers will shed formal concert format in favour of a dramatic exploration of Elijah, while staying true to our intimate and accessible style.
Soloists are Geoff Sirett, Chris Enns, Marjorie Maltais and Larissa Koniuk.
Last night was the one of only two chances to see Bicycle Opera Project in Toronto this year. (The other is tonight). It was a show in collaboration with Toy Piano Composers’ Collective called Travelogue and featuring four new works around the broad them of travel. The show was run without an interval but with each composer introducing their own work by reading, e.g., post cards from their travels or, hilariously, in the case of the absent Tobin Stokes, recordings of the voicemails he left apologising for not having finished the piece yet. Staging was, in the BOP way, minimalist but effective.
As we approach All Fools Day the calendar starts to get busier. On Tuesday 29th March there’s a concert at lunchtime in the RBA called The Four Tenors. In this case it’s Andrew Haji (lucky St. Louis folks can see him as Rodolfo next season), Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure, Charles Sy, and Aaron Sheppard. The program is a bit predictable and, yes, there are Neapolitan songs, though not, at least according to the on-line version O sole mio. Also no Nessun dorma so I think we have a handle on the possible encores.
Then it’s on to April 1st itself and here the gods are laughing. At 5pm, at the McMillan Theatre, UoT Opera are doing the The Art of the Prima Donna; a selection of staged and costumed scenes from classic operas. Parts of this were performed in the RBA in October last year. Then at 8pm at the Arts and Letters Club, Bicycle Opera Project and the Toy Piano Composers’ Collective have a show called Travelogue featuring short operas about travel. This one is repeated on the 2nd. Finally, Voicebox:Opera in Concert are premiering Isis and Osiris by Peter Anthony Togni and Sharon Singer. This one is at 8pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre and it’s sponsored by the Egyptian Tourist Authority who can probably use all the help they can get right now (and no jokes about pyramid marketing schemes please). This one is repeated at 2.30pm on Sunday 3rd April.
I was back last night to see Bicycle Opera Project’s Shadowbox again. This time it was in the more intimate, and highly appropriate, setting of a bicycle shop; Curbside Cycle on Bloor Street. Minus the high roof of the Davenport-Perth Community Centre it was much easier to understand the sung text which is pretty important with this show. The show is an interesting concept. It’s still a series of scenes by different composers and librettists but they are linked thematically by the common idea of memory and dramatically by the auction of objects that set up each scene The auctioneer is rather brilliantly played by Chris Enns who, curiously, seemed quite sinister at Davenport-Perth (like something out of a German Expressionist movie perhaps) but seemed quite avuncular close up.
The Humidex is in the high 30s today but Bicycle Opera Project had a lunchtime show today and it was the only one I would be able to cycle to so I went. I’m going again tomorrow night so I’ll hold off on the full review until then. Enough for now to say it’s well worth catching if you can. So, this year’s BOP tour has been notorious for its many mechanical problems; broken spokes, jammed pedals, bent wheels and who knows all what else. On the way home today my bike decided on sympathetic action. While negotiating the weird and wonderful passages required to get from the bottom of Roncesvalles to the Martin Goodman two chain links managed to jam themselves between two of the sprockets on the front gear. Fortunately I carry an emergency tool kit but it’s more geared to replacing a tube or tightening a loose nut than unjamming rather solid metal. I did manage to kluge a solution using chain lube and one of the Allen wrenches on a multi-tool but it wasn’t ideal and was accomplished only with even more sweat and a certain amount of blood (and much cursing). I think I’ll take the TTC tomorrow.