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.
Last night was the second annual fundraiser for St. Michael’s ICU in memory of Elizabeth Krehm. The work for the evening was Beethoven’s 9th symphony; an ambitious project for what amounts to a pick up orchestra and chorus with minimal rehearsal time. The orchestra, most competently conducted by Evan Mitchell did not disappoint. Ensemble was excellent and the sound at times thrilling. The choir sang with great enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment but the sound was a little “churchy” where something richer might have been preferred, though maybe in not in the resonant church acoustic. In any event that’s a nit in the overall scheme of things. The quartet of soloists was very good indeed. The guys get the exposed bits and both bass Jeremy Bowes and tenor Adrian Kramer sang out clearly and powerfully with excellent diction. The ladies too; soprano Rachel Krehm and alto Erin Lawson, clearly projected their lines over and through the orchestra and chorus. All in all it was most impressive and enjoyable. It was also well attended so hopefully the goal of raising lots of money for St. Mike’s was achieved.
November 17th sees the second annual Elizabeth Krehm memorial concert. It’s at Metropolitan United Church at 8pm and will feature Beethoven’s 9th sympony. The soloists will be Rachel Krehm, Erin Lawson, Adrian Kramer and Jeremy Bowes with the Canzona Chamber Players and a choir drawn from the Univox Choir and friends of the Krehm family. Evan Mitchell conducts. Admission is by tax receiptable donation to St. Michael’s Hospital where Elizabeth spent the last month of her life.
On 28th November, at Runnymede United Church a starry cast are donating their services for a charity performance of Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium. The beneficiaries will be the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee Education Program and Open Table Community Meal at Runnymede United Church. Johannes Debus will conduct the Bach Consort with soloists Monica Whicher, Vicki St. Pierre, Lawrence Wiliford, Colin Ainsworth and Russell Braun. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 on the door.
Last night we headed out to that part of the formerly industrial west end much beloved by tiny arts organizations to see a thoroughly eclectic series of performances by Against the Grain Theatre. This is the company that previously brought us a genuinely Bohemian La Bohème at the Tranzac club. Last night’s show cunningly built on that success by using the undoubted crowd pleaser, Lindsay Boa-Sutherland, to headline a performance of Weill’s Die sieben Todsüngen. Since the orchestra was replaced by two superbly virtuosic pianists in Daniel Pesca and AtG music director Christopher Mokrzewski it made sense to include two fiendish pieces for two pianos; Steve Reich’s Piano Phase and John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction. The program was balanced up for “virtue” with Britten’s Abraham and Isaac. So, a thoroughly eclectic but oddly coherent line up.