Xin Wang, soprano - Photo by Michael Mori
I like to take opportunities as they come. Most of the time I'm pleasantly surprised with the outcome, and being given the opportunity to attend Tapestry New Opera's Pub Operas was definitely no exception. When I found out about the performance I was super excited. An opera written about a pub, inspired by a pub and performed in a pub, and in the Distillery District no doubt, sounded pretty great to me. Of course I probably should have paid more attention to the description of the venue because once I was past the Distillery's toll booth of a front gate, I spent about ten minutes trying to find the Ernest Balmer Studio. For whatever reason I just couldn't get the idea of an opera taking place in Sloan’s Pub out of my head and I kept circling all the festive looking watering holes hoping that Tapestry would be warming-up inside. I soon realized that they actually have a performance space on the third floor of one of those festive looking buildings. The show was not in a pub.
Alright, I can accept that they didn't perform in an actual bar, it was their studio space dramatically turned into a Scottish pub, complete with bartenders and Steam Whistle on tap. It was pretty cool, plus it gave them control over having a stage set up that worked best for the opera, room for a small orchestra with grand piano and of course, gave the performers a generous backstage area to work with. Ah, reality. Anyway, back to the opera itself.
Tapestry provided us with the operatic equivalent of a five course meal complete with the ghost of Chopin, a crazy lady, happy and angry drunks, live country music, a robbery, a wedding, a serial killer, and a dead guy. The beer was cold, the snacks were Scottish, and the opera was undeniably satisfying. Scottish composer Gareth Williams provided the modern score that at times seemed minimalist inspired and at other moments felt more theatrical. The libretto was written by Canadian, David Brock. He was a way with words that gave the characters life and humanity.
Pub Operas was - Wayne Strongman, Music Director; Xin Wang, soprano; Heather Jewson, mezzo soprano; James McLean, tenor; Benjamin Covey, baritone.
Tapestry New Opera's next production will be, The Tapestry Songbook, January 28, 2012. "This concert will showcase bravura arias from the extensive library of Tapestry produced operas, performed by artists from the Tapestry New Work Studio Company and participants from Tapestry’s New Opera 101 Master Class/Workshop. Soprano Xin Wang, Baritone Peter McGillivray and Collaborative Pianist Christopher Foley return as both performers and master class clinicians."
Pub Opera's Assistant Director, Michael Mori, sent me some artistic rehearsal photos that really capture the mood of the night. You can watch the slide show below, or click through the pic by pic gallery.