Ambur Braid is Oksana G.

So finally we have dates and casting for the long awaited Oksana G (music Aaron Gervais, libretto Colleen Murphy) from Tapestry Opera.  This one has been years in the making.  Back when I saw the second act workshop in 2012 there were all kinds of rumours about who would eventually (co)produce it.  Now it looks like Tapestry have come up the resources to do it as a standalone.  That’s no mean feat as this is a full blown two acter with orchestra and chorus.  It will play May 24th – 30th, 2017, at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre of the Canadian Opera Company, 227 Front St. E. (just around the corner from the Kitten Kondo) and the title role will be played by Operaramblings’ favourite crazy lady Ambur Braid.  As she showed recently as Dalinda in the COC’s Ariodante she’s now much more than a series of impressive high notes.  She’s become a singing actress of real substance and Oksana is certainly a role a girl could get her teeth into.  The rest of the casting is also impressive with the always impressive Krisztina Szabó as Oksana’s mother, Adam Fisher as Father Alexander, and Keith Klassen as the baddy Konstantin.  Jordan de Souza conducts and Tom Diamond directs.  This is one not to miss!

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Toole

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Opera pub night

I’ve seen opera in a lot of venues in Toronto, including several pubs, but last night was my first time at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club; the occasion being the first pub night hosted by Against the Grain Theatre.  There was a pretty decent crowd and, somewhat to my surprise, a couple of decent beers on tap.  There was also singing with Topher Mokrzewski at the keyboard of a piano almost as grotty as the one he made his AtG debut on.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the line up was pretty impressive; Clarence Frazer, Stephanie Tritchew, Aaron Durand, Cait Wood and John Brancy plus a bonus drop in by no less than Krisztina Szabó.  Rossini, Puccini, Donizetti, Bernstein and others all got a look in.  It was loud, it was fun and the audience, not all of whom I suspect knew what they were in for, stayed.  Further sessions are planned for the first Thursdays in November and December at the same venue.

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Tapestry 2016/17

naomiTapestry Opera has now announced its upcoming season.  There are three shows.  The season begins in November with Naomi’s Roadlibretto by Ann Hodges based on the novel by Joy Kogawa with music by Ramona Luengen. Set in Vancouver during the Second World War, the opera follows 9-year-old Japanese-Canadian girl Naomi and her brother, whose lives are upturned when they are sent to internment camps in the BC interior and Alberta. It runs November 16th to 20th at St. David’s Anglican Church, the home of the last Japanese-Canadian Anglican parish in Toronto. Continue reading

The Highwayman and Other Travels

Burry 2Most people in the Toronto opera world know Dean Burry principally as a composer of operas for children.  He’s written several and a couple have been mainstays of COC school tours.  It’s perhaps understandable then if his music is seen as approachable and maybe, even (sotto voce), a little unsophisticated.  Last night, a recital of Dean’s works in Victoria College Chapel; part of his DMA program at UoT, provided a chance to hear a number of works in a much broader range of styles.

The concert kicked off with Tussah Heera playing InPerfections for solo piano.  It’s a fully serial piece with the tone rows based on the DNA sequences of various hereditary diseases.  It’s quite striking and way more than a just a theory exercise.  The same could be said for Three Caprices for solo violin played by Dean’s partner Julia McFarlane.  These used a range of extended violin techniques to good effect.

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The week in prospect

campsallIt’s another pretty busy week.  There are two student shows today, both free.  At 2.30pm in the MacMillan Theatre there’s a performance of a new opera based on EM Forster’s The Machine Stops.  It’s by Patrick McGraw, Robert Taylor and Steven Webb.  Sandra Horst conducts and Michael Albano directs.  Then at 8pm in Mazzoleni Hall, Christina Campsall is performing Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine with Brahm Goldhammer providing piano accompaniment.

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In which the dogs don’t really get let out

Tap:Ex METALLURGY is the second experiment by Tapestry Artistic Director Michael Mori in engineering a collaboration between  opera people and an alien musical form; in this case punk experimentalists Fucked Up.  The program consistec of two pieces.  Metallurgy A was written by Fucked Up’s Jonah Falco to a dense libretto by Mike Haliechuk and David James Brock.  In half an hour it tells the story of a mother and father trying, unsuccessfully, to come to terms with the death of their young daughter.  Dramatically it’s quite clever.  There’s dialogue and then the performers (the musicians are on stage with the singers) leave one by one until only the mother (Krisztina Szabó) and the violinist (Yoobin Ahn), representing the ghost of the daughter, are left on stage to play out a final duet.

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A busy week

Next week is a bit crazy.  Tomorrow is the Elizabeth Krehm memorial concert in aid of St. Mike’s ICU.  They are playing Mahler 2 and it’s PWYC with a tax receipt.  8pm at Metropolitan United Church.  Tueday sees the opening of Philippe Boesmann’s Julie at 8pm at the Bluma Appel.  It’s an important, if bleak, contemporary piece and for the first time here, in a Soundstreams/CanStage presentation, it will be sung in English.  It runs until the 29th so plenty of chance to catch it.

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