Most music lovers have probably heard the music from Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat in either orchestral or chamber arrangement but it’s rare for the work to be given in its full staged form but that’s how it was presented (more or less) last night at Koerner Hall by the Toronto Summer Music Festival in association with LooseTEA Music Theatre. That form includes a narrator, an actor (originally three actors, nowadays usually just a single actor/narrator) and dancer. Plus, of course, the band; violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, cornet and trombone, piano.
Wednesday evening saw the last Whose Opera is it Anyway? of the year in the new digs at Bad Dog Comedy Club. Last month’s line up of singers; Rachel Krehm, Michael York, Gillian Grossman and Amanda Kogan, were joined by Adanya Dunn and an elf. Natasha Fransblow was at the keyboard again. Greg Finney; the thinking man’s Don Cherry, MC’d. The format was as ever; a line up of improv games with audience input. Highlights included the Three Minute Messiah, Adanya giving her mum a dildo and the deep, dark depths of Keith Lam’s Instagram account. And beer. And Greg’s suit.
The news is that LooseTEA now has a regular slot for WOIIA. In the new year you will be able to catch them at Bad Dog on the third Sunday of the month at 9.30pm. It’s a better venue than the old place and it’s a fun way to spend an hour and a half or so.
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).
Today 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.
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.
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”.
The 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.
Loose 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 calledWhose 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.
Apocalypsis 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?