OPERA TO GO seven short operas directed by Tom Diamond (Tapestry/World Stage). At Enwave Theatre (235 Queens Quay West). To February 23. $20-$40. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNN
Tapestry’s Opera To Go, a septet of bite-sized works, makes for a full meal, though not every morsel is tasty.
The idea is to pair writers with composers who work in a variety of styles. Add a quartet of singing actors, Tom Diamond’s clever direction and musical direction by Wayne Strongman and the result largely succeeds.
These aren’t works about consumptive sopranos or heroic tenors kept from their lovers by villainous baritones.
Instead, we get She Sees Her Lover In The Light Of Morning, a sensual lesbian love story by Leanna Brodie, set to Craig Galbraith’s exotic score, with Carla Huhtanen as an older woman unsure whether to go down a well-trodden path with a younger woman, sung by Jessica Lloyd.
There’s romance of a different sort in the short film The Perfect Match, a sunshine-bright gay love story by librettist Krista Dalby and composer Anthony Young performed by a pair of sock puppets, sung by Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray. Shadow puppetry and giant human puppets strengthen Dalby and Kevin Morse's mythic The Shaman’s Tale.
Brodie and David Ogborn’s The Translator is the most serious work, a look at torture in today’s insecure world; computer-generated images and Ogborn’s electronic laptop score add a further scary touch.
It’s the lighter pieces, though, that work best. In Lisa Codrington and Morse’s The Colony, a queen Amazon ant locks antennae with an exterminator’s insecticide sprays. A couple can’t decide whether they want to break up or not in See Saw; Anna Chatterton’s delicious wordplay blends nicely with Andrew Staniland’s teasing score.
Even Dave Carley’s Peace Of My Heart, set to Ogborn’s music, has its comical side, though it deals with a patient (Calvin Powell) undergoing cardiac surgery. Carley’s paean to and parody of the cardiologist (Klassen) turns him into a self-impressed, resplendent rock-star figure.
But why structure the show so that the first half’s so serious and the second is fun? Mix ’em up, please.