Opera and Hallowe’en

I like chamber music.

I like opera.

Ughn. Apple pen. Chamber opera.

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This Hallowe’en (technically Oct. 30) was my first City Opera Vancouver event and first chamber opera, even though I do like both chamber music and opera and it makes sense to like this, too. I guess it’s a little off-putting that they hold their events at churches… But how often do you get the chance to hear Mozart’s “lost” or unfinished operas? I didn’t realise any existed! So B-cat and I headed downtown to the varnish fume-filled Christ Church Cathedral for his month-early birthday.

It’s likely all artists have half-finished work somewhere, but according to the essay [that I just realised was written by my old opera prof!] in the programme, Mozart was fairly happy with the music he had in these fragments — i.e. it wasn’t like sitting down to read someone’s first draft. Like you’re doing now. I’m so sorry. The music is distinctively Mozart, and while the second act’s Zaide (first performed on what would’ve been the composer’s 110th birthday) is the most complete and therefore most absorbing, the story Maria Reva wrote to weave three operas into one is excellent. The company seems to do clever things with a small wardrobe as well, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Bramwell Tovey, whom I thought was there in a cameo, is fun to see in the main non-singing role.

Good music, good voice, good acting. City Opera Vancouver’s next production runs from November 1 to 11, unless you have money to blow on the ferry to Victoria.

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Female Riddler (with a free book from the tour)

I figured that was it for Hallowe’en, but on the 31st, B-cat took me on the “Lost Souls of Gastown” walking tour… despite being on double crutches himself. We were lucky it wasn’t raining, because the lovely maple and ginkgo leaves everywhere did make the ground slippery.

Like the COV opera, this tour links a multitude of pieces — here, BC history — with a skillfully written frame story. It is not at all cheesy: the struggles and sorrows of Vancouverites past are what will haunt you.

Warmest Way to Hallowe’en

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Hallowe’en at the Orpheum

It’s as much tradition to rain on Hallowe’en as it is on the other 364 to 365 days in Vancouver. Every kid here has to endure the frustration of wearing some awesome costume under a warm, bulky coat. Being a teen is even worse, because you don’t even get free candy.

One great thing about being an adult is that, instead of being pressured to go clubbing or lining up at Fright Night for hours, I can spend the night at the freaking symphony.

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B-cat as Todd Ingram (Scott Pilgrim), me as Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)

I hadn’t actually gone to a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concert in a while, since opera and ballet cover the classical music base pretty well, but I won tickets to their Hallowe’en concert (along with a Sultans of String CD) at the Vancouver Writers Fest volunteer orientation this October.

Not Totally to brag, but I’m really good at luck-based contests. It all started when, around the age of 3, I won both the cash prize and the top item prize (a motorcycle) in a mall draw…

Anyway, here’s part of the 2015 offering:

  • “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

  • “Night on Bald Mountain”

  • “Come Fly with Me”

  • Debussy and Berlioz

  • Excerpt from Phantom of the Opera

…and some Harry Potter and E.T. music I didn’t recognise. It was conducted by John Morris Russell, with guest singer Carman Price.

A few years ago, I had also gone to VSO’s Nosferatu Hallowe’en, at which the live orchestra accompanied the film playing on the huge screen. I usually can’t get into movies that… old, but the music made all the difference.

Nosferatu is spookier, but a jazz-filled dress-up night full of laughs is nothing to scoff at.

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No one’s tough as Gaston, no one’s rough as Gaston, no one wins as much stuff as Gaston

If you’ve never gone to a VSO Hallowe’en concert, let me just point out that attendees in costume get two free vouchers for future concerts. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Certainly not Gaston.