Toronto Operetta Theatre’s current production is Oscar Straus’ The Chocolate Soldier in the English version. It’s based on Shaw’s Arms and the Man but, as is usually the case with musical adaptations of Shaw, it’s rather less acerbic than the original. In fact, it comes over as a somewhat farcical love story with a few gentle pot shots at the military and militarism. There are some good comic lines and the music is tuneful and well crafted.
March was a curiously quiet month. April starts to look busier, at least once we get past Easter. Tonight, Against the Grain have their monthly pub night at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club. Snow is forecast so you should all stay away and then maybe I’ll be able to get in. On Saturday at 4pm there’s a free (or PWYC) recital in Ernest Baumer Studio featuring soprano Stephanie Nakagawa and pianist Peemanat Kittimontreechai. They will be performing arias from contemporary Canadian operas. On Thursday 13th Philippe Jaroussky and Les Violins du Roy will be appearing at Koerner Hall. It’s at 8pm and features mainly fairly obscure Handel material.
Toronto Operetta Theatre opened a run of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at the Jane Mallett Theatre last night. Bill Siva-Marin’s production is competent and very traditional with some strong performers in the key roles. It won’t leave you with any new insights into the piece but it’s a well executed production which is lots of fun and very funny in places. When I say traditional I mean pirates in pantomime pirate dress, maidens in some stereotypically Victorian maiden garb and a Major General in a cod colonial uniform. Tnere are the traditional mild updatings to the libretto including a couple of rather well crafted verses in the MG’s patter song that reference the Glorious Leader of our neighbour to the south. There are also a few nice touches. In the second act the MG spends much of the time clutching a bust of one of his purchased ancestors and the “catlike tread” scene is noisily anything but. That said, the choreography and blocking are pretty formulaic though there are some deft touches in the Personenregie. Mabel’s body language in Oh! Is there not one maiden breast? is worth a look.
As things will soon slow down for the holidays I am going to do one listings post from now through to the New Year. There are of course still the TSO and Tafelmusik Messiahs. There are also holiday concerts at Roy Thomson Hall. New Year’s Eve sees an opera pops concert conducted by Marco Guidarini while on New Year’s Day there’s a Vienna themed extravaganza with Matthias Fletzberger conducting.
I’m out of town for the first week of November or so so this week’s preview will actually cover two weeks. Lots of endings coming up with the last OA Dido and Aeneas this afternoon and the COC’s fall season closing with Ariodante on Thursday and Norma on Friday. There’s also Centre Stage on Wednesday. I shall be curious to see what people think.
On to next weekend and there are a couple of items of interest. Saturday at 7.30pm and Sunday at 3pm at Grace Church on the Hill Bicycle Opera Project are collaborating with Pax Christi Chorale in performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Here’s the blurb:
In this unique presentation of a classic oratorio, Bicycle Opera’s singers will shed formal concert format in favour of a dramatic exploration of Elijah, while staying true to our intimate and accessible style.
Soloists are Geoff Sirett, Chris Enns, Marjorie Maltais and Larissa Koniuk.
By an odd coincidence two season announcement pressers hit my in box today; Toronto Operetta Theatre and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Toronto Operetta Theatre have four shows:
The Waltz Rivals (November 6th at 3pm) is a Léhar and Kálmán greatest hits show featuring Lucia Cesaroni, Adrian Kramer, Holly Chaplin, Stefan Fehr and Greg Finney with Michael Rose at the piano.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance runs from December 27th to January 8th, 2017. Colin Ainsworth sings Frederic, Vania Chan is Mabel and Curtis Sullivan is the Major General. Derek Bate conducts and Guillermo Silva-Marin directs.
Oscar Straus’ The Chocolate Soldier, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, runs on April 26th, 28th, 29th and 30th, 2017. Peter Tiefenbach leads the orchestra and the cast includes Jennifer Taverner, Anna Macdonald, Michael Nyby and Stefan Fehr.
Finally there’s an Offenbach tribute concert on June 4th 2017.
All performances are at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
Unsurprisingly there’s not a lot going on operatically in Toronto over the next couple of weeks. This is not Berlin where you have a choice of operas to attend, even on Christmas Day! About the only thing coming up over the next couple of weeks is Toronto Operetta Theatre’s production of Romberg’s The Student Prince. Ernesto Ramirez and Jennifer Taverner head up the cast. There are five performances; matinees on December 27th plus January 2nd and 3rd, an evening show on the 28th and a gala performance on New Year’s Eve. It plays at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and tickets can be bought here.