Liederwölfe stuns in #OperaPeepShow Photo: Marilis Cardinal

Liederwölfe stuns in #OperaPeepShow

Greg Finney

Standing proudly kitty-corner to the impressive and beautiful Four Seasons Centre, at the northwest corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue, is the heritage building Campbell House, a treasure trove of historical artefacts from the early 19th-century.

This weekend within its walls is an awesome event perpetrated by the genius upstart out of Montréal, Liederwölfe. Lindsay Michael and Francesca Perez spearhead one of the most intriguing and entertaining evenings I’ve been to in a while. #OperaPeepShow is a night of opera here in Toronto that’s not to be missed.

To say that it was unique would be a broad understatement.

Upon arrival, you are greeted at the door and presented with a key which gets you into the event, and then you are ushered downstairs where you get to choose, à la carte, which combination of the presenting companies you wished to check out.

The four companies involved are Essential Opera, re:Naissance, Urbanvessel and Liederwölfe.

My tour began with re:Naissance, and they started the night off by straight up blowing my mind. Those who know me know I have issues with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but tonight I was given an Ophelia to remember. Interspersed with the dialogue from her mad scene where, in distress, she begins to sing songs from her childhood, we were given beautifully rendered folk tunes of the era accompanied by lute. I was delighted to hear a tender and ardent “Last Rose of Summer”. What set this apart was the strength of the acting juxtaposed with the discomfort of being in such close proximity to someone experiencing the moment their sanity breaks. It was poignant, electric, and definitely set me in the right mood to move on.

Next up was Essential Opera. In a game show fashion the audience got to choose by votes which scenes they’d hear based on construction paper emoticons. We heard Eugene Onegin, L’elisir d’amore, and Werther. An operatic smorgasbord to be sure. I’d suggest hitting their room more than once so you get to hear as much rep as you can. The singers are all top-notch and charming, so it’s fun to be in closer proximity. If you’re lucky enough to check out this instalment on April 30, you’ll get a to see their collage She’s the One, celebrating women’s lives through Canadian and American contemporary opera.

Back down to the bar to confirm the rest of my schedule for the night, “Why yes sir, I WOULD like another glass of red.”

Photo by Gregory Finney.

#Surprise, #WhatATwist.

MYOpera is here with a surprise sneak peak at their production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, which I’m checking out on Saturday. Tonight, Lucretia understudy Alida Doornberg gave us a brilliantly sung aria that made me interested to hear her do the full role some day.

Then up one more flight, for what turned out to be my favourite instalment. Liederwölfe themselves presented a selection of numbers from across the standard canon, Verdi-to-Weill kind of deal. Their use of the tech available in the room was what elevated this more to a site-specific performance from the top-quality salon vibe some of the other rooms had. Leiderwölfe gave us a stellar quartet, featuring tenor Graham Thomson who sings a mean Verdi, and tenor Josh Wales who brings Weill to life close enough to touch. Accompaniment by a recorded track (which worked brilliantly for the Puccini) sometimes got out of sync, especially when more people joined in the singing.

Joshua Wales in Liederwölfe’s presentation in #OperaPeepShow. Photo by Gregory Finney.

Unfortunately my schedule, combined with a few logistical mishaps (which were both understandable and completely forgivable) I wasn’t able to see the fourth instalment, BOOTS. Presented by Urbanvessel, it’s an interactive performance by Christine Duncan which deals with her relationship to her shoes. I suggest all of you go and report back to me in the comment section (below).

Seriously, why haven’t you bought a ticket yet? #OperaPeepShow runs two more nights (April 29 and 30) and you can get your sweet tickets here.

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