A couple of things that I found out about too late to include in my June preview post…
On June 26th and 27th at Calvin Presbyterian Church there are workshops of a new opera, The Llandovery Castle, based on the story of a Canadian hospital ship sunk by a U-boat 100 years ago in June 1918. It’s being mounted by Bicycle Opera Project. The music is by Stephanie Martin with a libretto by Paul Ciufo. Tom Diamond directs. More details here.
It’s that time of year when one reflects on the good and the not so good. What one would like to see more of and not. What seemed significant about the year. As I look back over my writings for the last twelve months one clear theme stands out, Reconciliation. There was the COC’s very thoughtful and thought provoking remount of Somers’ Louis Riel in April and all the fascinating events that went on around that. There were attempts by the TSO to incorporate Indigenous themes; the Tanya Tagaq concert in March and Adizokan with Red Sky in October. Neither of these quite came off but the intent was good. Then there was a really fine recital of works by Indigenous composers by Marion Newman at the beginning of the year. Then, of course, the Clemence/Current piece Missing, about murdered and missing Indigenous women, which premiered in British Columbia and which I haven’t seen yet but really, really want to. 2017 was also the year when Land Acknowledgements went mainstream in the Toronto arts world. I guess there’s some tokenism here but there does seem to be far more engagement with Reconciliation in the arts world than in, say, the political mainstream which is unfortunate because opera isn’t going to produce clean drinking water. We have to start somewhere I guess.
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.
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.
So after a bit of a hiatus the Toronto music scene is coming back to life. The Toronto Summer Music Festival has kicked off and the main interest for followers of the vocal arts lies in the Art Song fellows project with concerts at 1pm on each of the next two Saturdays in Walter Hall (free but tickets required). Then the vocal highlight of the festival; Soile Isokoski in recital with Martin Katz at 7.30pm on the 18th at Walter Hall. The programme includes the Schumann Mary Stuart songs, the Strauss Ophelia songs plus some Wolf and, of course, Sibelius. Ms. Isokoski is also giving a public masterclass in Walter Hall on the 23rd at 2pm.
The full schedule of events around Bicycle Opera Project’s weekend in Hamilton in conjunction with the Hamilton Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre have now been announced. We are looking at the weekend of July 15th/16th and the details are as follows:
Bicycle Opera Project have announced their 2017 tour dates. They will be performing Juliet Palmer and Anna Chatterton’s Sweat. 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, Keith Lam, Larissa Koniuk, Justine Owens, Emma Char, Alexandra Beley and Cindy Won.