Whose opera is it anyways?!

Whose opera is it anyways?! is a comedy-improv-opera show from LooseTEA Theatre’s Alaina Viau.  Last night saw the second in what is being projected as a monthly series at the Comedy Bar on Bloor West.  So how does it work?  The “games” and associated players are decided in advance but each usually requires some kind of audience input such as a place or a mood or even the messages on someone’s phone.  The team then act out and sing a sketch on the prescribed lines.  Natasha Fransblow provided accompaniment on keyboards, though how much of that was planned and how much improvised I couldn’t tell.  In between numbers Jonathan McArthur MC’d accompanied by really obnoxiously loud pop music (not helped by the speaker basically being in my left ear).

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New announcements

Tapestry have announced casting for Naomi’s Road.   The cast includes two members of the original cast; Sam Chung as Stephen, Naomi’s musical younger brother and baritone Sung Taek Chung as Daddy.  They will be joined by soprano Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga as 9-year-old Naomi and mezzo-soprano Erica Iris Huang as Mother/Obasan.  Tickets are now on sale here.

lizkNovember 14th will see the fourth annual Elizabeth Krehm Memorial Concert. The concert raises money for the St Michael’s Hospital ICU, where Liz spent the last 30 days of her life. This year the program will start with the Bach Double Violin Concerto; a piece played by Liz. It will be performed by Yosuke Kawasaki and Jessica Linnebach, who are the concert master and associate concert master of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Rachel Krehm will be singing 2 arias and a song by Mozart, Dvorak and Strauss. Finally we will get Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. Evan Mitchell will conduct a volunteer orchestra. As well as being in aid of a good cause these memorial concerts have featured exceptionally good performances and are definitely worth going to.  It’s at Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen St E) on Monday November 14th at 7:30pm. Admission is by donation to St. Mike’s with a suggested minimum of $20.

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Where there’s a Will

So the Toronto Summer Music Festival continued last night with a Shakespeare themed show called A Shakespeare Serenade.  Curated and directed by Patrick Hansen of McGill it fell into two parts.  Before the interval we got Shakespeare scenes acted out and then the equivalent scene from an operatic adaptation of the play.  After the interval it was a mix of Sonnets and song settings in an overall staging that was perhaps riffing off The Decameron.  Patrick Hansen and Michael Shannon alternated at the piano.

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Three Bats on a Chest of Drawers

Opera 5’s interactive production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus opened last night in the Great Hall at 918 Bathurst.  It’s an intriguing but, above all, fun show.  I think it’s fair to say that presented straight Die Fledermaus has more than a few elements of meta-theatricality.  Here it’s central to the plot from MC Pearle Harbour’s initial apology for the lack of a fourth wall because “we can’t afford one” through a whole series of “interventions” by various characters.  Unpacking it all would probably make as much sense as Umberto Eco’s Three Owls on a Chest of Drawers and I’m not as clever as the late Professor Eco and, in best Fledermaus tradition, it’s the morning after and I’ve only had five hours sleep.  So, I’ll avoid the meta and try and describe the show.

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Elizabeth Krehm memorial

bogdanowiczLast night was the third memorial concert for Elizabeth Krehm in support of the ICU at St. Mike’s.  This year the piece was Mahler’s Symphony No.2 appropriately enough.  It’s a piece I’ve lived with for a very long time and it never fails to move.  It’s a curious contrast with the Fourth which we heard at the symphony last week.  If 4 gives a naive and optimistic view of the afterlife, 2 is much darker, more troubled and less certain.  Even the very beautiful Urlicht is not without its sense of angst and the final movement is majestic, powerful and has the deepest possible sense of yearning.

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Upcoming events – mostly November

AbrahamsOratorio_Poster_v1.4As ever there’s no shortage of announcements of new and interesting stuff in the Toronto area.  Here are a few from the inbox.  Next week, there’s a premiere of David Warrack’s oratorio Abraham.  It’s a multi-faith event in aid of the Syrian Refugee Program at Metropolitan United Church.  It’s on Wednesday, October 28th at 8 p.m. at Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East, Toronto.  Richard Margison stars as Abraham and joining him are five principal vocalists; Ramona Carmelly, Meredith Hall, Hussein Janmohamed, George Krissa and Theresa Tova, three choirs: the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Jarrahi Sufi Choir with Whirling Dervishes,and the Bach Children’s Chorus  David Warrack will be at the piano.  Whirling Dervishes?  Get in!  It’s a good cause.  General admission tickets are $54; $36 for students.  $75 VIP tickets offer reserved seating and an invitation to the post-concert reception.  Tickets and more information at www.abrahamoratorio.ca. Continue reading

A lunchtime of Mozart, Strauss and Dvořák

Rachel_KrehmSo there’s another free (well almost, $5 suggested donation) lunchtime concert series.  It’s Music Mondays at The Church of the Holy Trinity in Trinity Square (A most worthwhile institution which has long taken a leading role in the fight for social justice in Toronto and, on top of that, I used to play rugby with a former incumbent).  As it happens yesterday saw the last concert of the 2015 season featuring the Canzona Chamber Players, conductor Evan Mitchell, and soprano Rachel Krehm.  The Canzonas are a pretty big band, 53 players yesterday, for a chamber group (I guess they have big chambers in Canzona) and could be very loud in the rather resonant church acoustic.

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