Sunday, September 25, 2011

Opera Briefs, the 2011 Edition

One of the busiest times of the year has just wrapped up for me, with the final show of Tapestry New Opera's Opera Briefs 2011 ending last night at Theatre Passe Muraille. This was one of the most engaging Opera Briefs that I can remember, and here is a quick rundown (with spoilers) of the brand new mini-operas that we staged this year with a few words on what they were about:
  • The Theory of Everything by Sheldon Rosen and Elisabeth Mehl Greene. A man hits on a woman in a restaurant, whom he mistakenly takes to be the author of a book on string theory.
  • Guitar by Norman Yeung and Elisabeth Mehl Greene. A young guitarist leaves her Portland lover en route to a new career as indie artist in NYC.
  • Noor over Afghan by Anusree Roy and Christiaan Venter. A dying Afghan bride convinces her sister to take her place on her wedding day.
  • Lost and Found by Sharon Bajer and Elisabeth Mehl Greene. A seduction scene plays out in fragmented English.
  • The Drawing Class by Sheldon Rosen and Christiaan Venter. A drawing teacher in Terezin does her best to inspire her students in the face of terrible odds.
  • Leaving by Sharon Bajer and Darren Russo. A woman with post-partum depression leaves her husband and child.
  • Merk's Dream by Nick Carpenter and Elisabeth Mehl Greene. The last conversation between the loving but aging father and his mentally challenged woman on the eve of her departure for an institution.
  • The Golden Boy by Anusree Roy and Darren Russo. A single mother attempts to convince her son that his absent father still loves him.
  • The Last Life by Sharon Bajer and Katya Pine. A farmer tends his cow, who happens to harbor past-lives memories of the two of them.
  • Tea at Three by Sheldon Rosen and Katya Pine. A woman walking to the fridge at 3am meets the spectre of her departed sister.
  • All of the Sky by Sharon Bajer and Christiaan Venter. Two boys in a Pakistani carpet factory endure their harsh lives and dream of a better place.
  • Perfect Night by Nick Carpenter and Jana Skarecky. A middle-aged couple's romantic getaway is spoiled by a mosquito.
The scenes were performed by soprano Xin Wang, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo, tenor Keith Klassen, and baritone Ben Covey. Sue Miner directed and Kimberly Purtell designed the lighting. Jennifer Tung and I shared the pianistic and musical director duties. 

Of course the most interesting thing to watch for after an Opera Briefs run is the future life of both the mini-operas and their composer/librettist partnerships, some of which will now grow into a much larger creative process as their creators move forward with new project ideas.

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