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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This week

5720421dc9-jpgToday at 2.30pm Voicebox:Opera in Concert are performing Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.  It’s Bellini’s take on Bandello rather than Shakespeare, not a lot happens and the orchestral music is ho hum so a semistaged version with piano isn’t a bad bet if the singing is good.  Juliet is the up and coming Caitlin Wood.  Romeo, on whom much depends, is Anita Krause.  It’s at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

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Whose opera is it anyway?

I’ve always been a fan of those BBC Radio 4 programs where people have to do silly things so I was naturally drawn to LooseTEA’s fundraiser “Whose opera is it anyway?” in which a select band of singers (Greg Finney, Whitney Mather, Michael York, Charlotte Church, Fabian Arcineagas and Kijong Wi) got to do silly things bid on by the audience.  Some of the silly things even involved members of the audience. Asa Iranmehr was on the keyboards and comedian Andrew Johnston, despite almost total ignorance of anything operatic, MC’d.

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It was great fun and much funnier than the average bel canto “comedy”.  Highlights included Sit, Stand Lie where Michael, Greg and Fabian had to perform La mia Dorabella with one of them in each position at any one time, Moving People where Greg and Whitney were “manipulated” by Aria Umezawa, Michael Mori, Katja “polkadots” Juliannova and Rachel Krehm while singing the Papageno/a duet.  The best/weirdest singing was probably a couple of “in the style of”s.  I was really impressed by Whitney’s Deh vieni non tardar in the style of Miranda Sings.  It takes real talent to sing that badly!  Greg’s Catalogue Aria in the style of (a very lugubrious) Vladimir Putin was a hoot too.  My sunglasses came in handy in “Props”.

woiia1sThe snacks were decidedly better than they often are at these events too.  Really good pizza!  So, a good time was had by all.  More people should come to these things.  Have a few drinks, meet fun people, see just how multi-talented some of our singers are and have fun.  Why not?

Sorry about the photo quality.  Taken by me on my phone.

A nice cup of LooseTEA

improvLoose TEA Music Theatre have just announced their latest project; a transladaptation of Gounod’s Faust called Disassociative Me. It will run for three performances at RED nightclub, 135 Liberty Street on August 18th, 20th and 22nd.  No details on casting and stuff yet.  There’s also a fundraiser to support the production.  It’s called Whose Opera is it Anyways? and it’s on 22nd July from 7pm to 10pm at The Office pub on John Street.  Assorted brave, or foolish, singers will be taking the games from “Whose Line is it Anyway” and daring to do them while singing opera!  There’s also a comedian and a DJ.  Tickets are $25 and incude snacks and a glass of wine.

Opera meet up

AC-handbill-frontApocalypsis was actually my second show yesterday.  Earlier in the day I was at an opera “meet up” organised by Alaina Viau of LooseTEA Music Theatre.  This was held at a bar on Bloor Street (actually inside the Intercontinental Hotel) and featured a performance of Love in the Age of AutoCorrect; an adaptation by Alaina and Markus Kopp of Mozart’s Bastien et Bastienne which first saw the light at Rosemarie Umetsu’s last August.

It was an interesting experience.  Being in a bar not closed off for the event meant that people wandered in from the hotel not expecting to be caught up in an opera performance (and they did look like typical weekend denizens of a luxury hotel).  It also meant that the performances were not exactly listened to with Mahlerian dedication.  There was a fair amount of chatter and it can’t have been easy for the trio of Greg Finney, Keenan Viau and the ridiculously cute Whitney Mather.  The acoustic wasn’t great either but these three were very funny and sang rather well and the piece is more fun Mozart’s original!

It’s a pretty cool idea really and I enjoyed it.  I wonder if it would work in a pub with decent beer rather than a bar with overpriced cocktails and crap wine?

Toronto Summer Music and more

For those of you who won’t be glued to the underwater cycling at the Pan-Am games there is actually music on in Toronto over the summer.  The tenth Toronto Summer Music Festival features a wide range of events in many genres.  The ones likely to be of most interest to AR readers follow.

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Best of 2014

Well not so much “best of” as the good stuff that really made my year.  It was a pretty good year overall.  On the opera front there was much to like from the COC as well as notable contributions from the many smaller ensembles and opera programs.  The one that will stick longest with me was Peter Sellars’ searing staging of Handel’s Hercules at the COC.  It wasn’t a popular favourite and (predictably) upset the traditionalists but it was real theatre and proof that 250 year old works can seem frighteningly modern and relevant.  Two other COC productions featured notable bass-baritone COC debuts and really rather good looking casts.  Atom Egoyan’s slightly disturbing Cosí fan tutte not only brought Tom Allen to town but featured a gorgeous set of lovers, with Wallis Giunta and Layla Claire almost identical twins, as well as a welcome return for Tracy Dahl.  Later in the year Gerry Finley made his company debut in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff in an incredibly detailed Robert Carsen production.  I saw it three times and I’m still pretty sure I missed stuff.

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