Author Archives: thirtyfourflavours

About thirtyfourflavours

Canadian. South Asian. Lifestyle Writer. Master of Arts. Total sweetheart.

SPARKLE: The Annual Media Profile Holiday Party (Dec 1, 2022)

Media Profile celebrated their annual holiday party Thursday night and as usual – it was epic! The pandemic may have kept us away from celebrating over the last 2 years. But tonight, we were making up for lost time. Media Profile prides itself on being a full service public relations and creative agency. They use all the tools under the holiday tree, whether media relations, social media, content creation and marketing etc. So clearly it was no surprise that their holiday parties resemble who they are and how they work. Think warm, generous, compassionate, and guaranteed to be exciting!

We love the historic Burroughes Building space. The aged brick, high ceilings, swooping arched doorways, NYC elevator shaft and roof top patio – makes you feel welcome and truly part of a family. It was no surprise that Media Profile’s guests were keen to take photos throughout the space for prosperity. We loved the lavender, mauve, silver, aquamarine balloons that hung from the rustic ceiling. The wintery white trees and the metallic reindeers were perfect spots to grab your Instagram story shots to make your friends at home jealous.

This year we indulged upon custom Inniskillin cocktails which were named “Inn-nuendo”, “Lady Randolph”, and “Ginninjuice”. We also dabbled in the Wine Rack selection which included Jackson-Triggs and Saintly offerings. They were lush, silky, and helped us wind down after a busy year.

Sixty Six Brix’s maple sugar station was buzzing as they drizzled the most gorgeous of maple syrup onto a bed of ice. Sixty Six Brix’s maple sugar station doled out gourmet cheese wrapped into ice hardened maple syrup like an ensconced sweater. We like to spend as much time as possible inhaling these delights when we are at Media Profile’s Holiday party.

As we mingled throughout the space we also munched on the snacks that seem to be constantly coming out of the busy kitchen space. Snacks that included of toasty poutines, Baba Ghanoush toast, Spicy Southern Fried Chicken sliders, filled our bellies. These small eating pauses also allowed us to catch up with friends and share a quiet moment over a candle lit table.

The DJ was sure to cloud the air with cool mixes as we danced the night away while also saying hello to new friends as they breezed into the space.

We took advantage of the photographer/selfie station. The printed shots on the tiniest printer you have ever seen as a takeaway bonbonierre. If you are going to get your hair blown out and put on a cute party dress, you might as well get your pictures in!

Media Profile will always be known as the most crashable holiday party in Toronto. It’s epic in stature, the attention to detail is always on point and most importantly the vibe is consistently friendly, accommodating and authentically warm. Perfectly symbolic of the Media Profile brand and people.

As always, thank you for the invite! Until December 2023!

Happy Holidays!

http://www.mediaprofile.com/ #MPParty

The Canadian Opera Company’s: “Carmen” by Georges Bizet at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (October 14, 16, 20, 22, 26, 28, 30, and November 4, 2022)

Chilly nights in Toronto require a trip to the opera. The Canadian Opera Company presents “Carmen” by Georges Bizet at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts this Fall between October 14, 16, 20, 22, 26, 28, 30, and November 4, 2022). The diva can give Beyoncé a run for her money is here for a limited time. “Carmen” is truly an opera for women.

Carmen is a seductive, freedom-loving woman, desired by many. She takes Don José, a young soldier, as her latest lover, who defects from the army to join her in her smuggling life. But when she spurns him for the dashing toreador Escamillo, Don José cannot accept her rejection…to fatal consequences.

The Canadian Opera Company’s has pulled out all the stops by securing two-time Grammy Award winner J’Nai Bridges. Ms. Bridges will hypnotize you in the title role of Carmen. Her voice saturates the stage. Bridges performance of “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” will make you swoon. Additionally, Carmen’s gorgeous long locks, red lip, crushed velvet dress, sashes and ties offer the most delicious of seductions to her lovers. Ms. Bridges, Carmen, will make you want to pay her a visit more than once this season.

1167 – A scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Carmen, 2022. Conductor Jacques Lacombe, director Joel Ivany, lighting designer Jason Hand, original set designer Michael Yeargan, original costume designer François St. Aubin, fight director and intimacy coordinator Siobhan Richardson. Photo: Michael Cooper

Argentine tenor Marcelo Puente plays Carmen’s hot-tempered love interest and villain, Don José. Mr. Puente performance will make you want you to shake your fist at times. The desperate love Don José holds for Carmen heaves from the stage into the audience as the story takes a dark turn.

Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury plays Micaëla. Ms. El-Khoury’s performance is exquisite. The character of Micaëla truly shines the light into the dark interiors of the staging. American Grammy Award-winning baritone Lucas Meachem plays the role of Escamillo, and closes the love triangle between Carmen and Don José. Mr. Meachem’s provides a bravado that will keep you warm in your seat.

When inhaling the heat coming off the stage at “Carmen”, ensure to dwell on the opera’s finest performance offerings such as the “Habanera”, “The Flower Song”, and the “Toreador Song”. You maybe familiar with these songs. They may even prompt you to download them upon your return home for further reflection.

Finally, when not being mesmerized by the passion fuelled performances, make time to wink at the sun-drenched production. The lighting is curated by from Toronto-based Jason Hand, combined with original set and costume designs from Michael Yeargan and François St-Aubin, whisks audiences away to bustling street scenes and danger-laced outlaw hideaways. I guarantee you will feel like you have been in Havana for 3 hours.

Ensure sure you pay a visit with a Carmen before winter’s chill gets you. Her warmth will keep you toasty until we meet at the opera again in spring 2023!

Carmen is sung in French and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES.

https://www.coc.ca/productions/23489

The Canadian Opera Company’s: The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (October 7, 9, 13, 15, 19, 21, and 23, 2022)

As the Fall approaches it’s time to venture out and immerse ourselves in gorgeous opera performances perhaps with a hot drink in hand. This opera season, the Canadian Opera company presents, The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts between October 7, 9, 13, 15, 19, 21, and 23, 2022. It is a romantic opera in 3 acts with libretto and would pair beautifully with a hot drink in tow.

Consider this; the Flying Dutchman is an epic opera, heaving with emotion, and contains a score that is full of pomp and circumstance. The Flying Dutchman will make you swoon and want to weep all at the same time. Inspired by German expressionism and early cinema, the opera will pull you close and encourage you to reflect on your year with a critical lens.

The Flying Dutchman’s is a doomed sailor cursed to sail the seas without respite, only able to set foot on shore for one day every seven years. His freedom can only come with the finding of true love. When a local sailor and his daughter Senta encounter the ghostly ship, initial attraction leads to a high-stakes test of devotion. A truly riveting storyline brimming with heartache, love and passion.

0342 – (front, l-r) Marjorie Owens as Senta and Johan Reuter as the Dutchman in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Flying Dutchman, 2022. Conductor Johannes Debus, original director Christopher Alden, revival director Marilyn Gronsdal, set and costume designer Allen Moyer, lighting designer Anne Militello. Photo: Michael Cooper

The passion is further articulated by the stunning tilted and twisted set landscape by American designer Allen Moyer. It is aesthetically pleasing and jaw dropping marvel to behold. The ship’s crew fling their bodies to and fro as they mimic the ship’s ghostly nautical sway in the moonlight. The storm clouds and bleak skies pop out as the opera begins to cast you under its spell alongside a mechanical sewing and ship wheel, reclaimed wooden windows and chairs, and a beckoning crème sail.

The Flying Dutchman feverish romantic score is amplified by COC Music Director Johannes Debus in collaboration with Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst. Danish baritone Johan Reuter takes on the title role as the Dutchman. His performance is genuine, roaring and full of grit in stormy waters. American soprano Marjorie Owens plays the young woman infatuated with the Dutchman. Her performance is effervescent, delicate and yearning in the darkened wooden ship’s interiors. German bass Franz-Josef Selig plays Daland, the captain who discovers the Dutchman’s ghostly ship. We observe the grandiosity in his voice which beckons us to look deeper into his contributions. American tenor Miles Mykkanen illuminates the role of the Steersman and commands us to reflect on the resurfacing multiple points of views throughout the opera.

The Flying Dutchman is a hot Fall treat. It is a perfect opera for a first time attendee and a delicious delight for a seasoned opera fan. After two long years away from opera, The Flying Dutchman will offer room for introspection of love lost, a possibility for new love to be found and relish the meditative beauty of opera.

The Flying Dutchman is sung in German and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.

https://www.coc.ca/productions/23486

Ticket Giveaway: The Toronto Japanese Film Festival Ticket Giveaway! (June 16 – June 30, 2022)

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a stack of tickets to get you out there in the sun and ready to catch some wonderful Japanese films! Yes, I will be giving away 3 pairs of tickets per film listed below.

IN THE WAKE

KIBA: THE FANGS OF FICTION

MIDNIGHT SWAN

INUBU: THE DOG CLUB

PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and the Toronto Japanese Film Festival Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/30fourflavours, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thirtyfourflavours/ or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet, Instagram DM or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me which Toronto Japanese Film Festival film you are interested in. The films that follow are pretty special and will be sure to move and inspire you. Check out the screening guide for film summaries here,

https://jccc.on.ca/films/tjff

Follow the Toronto Japanese Film Festival:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseCanadianCulturalCentre/

Twitter: @TorontoJFF

Instagram: @torontojff

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and the Toronto Japanese Film Festival is Monday June 6, 2022.

Catch The Toronto Japanese Film Festival (TJFF) from June 16 – June 30, 2022

The samurai of the cinematic variety, are set to descend on Toronto’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s Kobayashi Hall this summer.  They are joined by yakuza mobsters, manga artists in love, teenage assassins, ruthless journalists, anime princesses, campaigning dog lovers, Michelin star chefs, dashing hotel detectives and the fantastic beasts of Japan myth.

The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s 11th annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival will be held from June 16 to 30 and features 24 films.  After 2 successful virtual editions, the festival returns to in-person screenings at the JCCC’s Kobayashi Hall. Also returning to the festival are taiko drumming performances, great food and art exhibitions. One of the largest film events of its kind outside Japan, the TJFF is recognized by the Japanese film industry as a vital conduit for bringing Japanese film to the world.  Many films come to the festival prior to their Japanese release.

TJFF 2022’s Opening Night film is the Canadian premiere of THE PASS: LAST DAYS OF THE SAMURAI, directed by Takashi Koizumi, Akira Kurosawa’s Assistant Director on Ran and Kagemusha followed byan exclusive virtual Q&A with the director. Director Koizumi creates classic samurai cinema, replete with gorgeous period costumes, sets and epic battle scenes tell the story of historical figure Tsuginosuke Kawai and the demise of the samurai class. Starring Koji Yakusho, Tatako Matsu, Tatsuya Nakadai

The Closing Night film is the International premiere of Kenji Nakanishi’s DREAMING OF THE MERIDIAN ARC, a light-hearted look at the Edo-period creation of the first map of Japan.

Highlights of the TJFF lineup of 24 feature films include –

Masaharu Takizaka’s THE LAST GOZE tells the true story of Haru Kobayashi, one of the last “goze” artists. Becoming sightless as an infant at the dawn of the 20th century, Haru’s best option is to become a “goze” – a blind entertainer who travels the countryside singing stories while playing the shamisen. At the height of her career, Haru became one of the most famous performers of her generation, eventually named a Living National Treasures.

Preceded by a shamisen performance by Ten Ten’s Aki Takahashi.

MASQUERADE NIGHT

Takuya Kimura and Masami Nagasawa return in the hit follow-up to Masquerade Hotel. Police detective Nitta and hotel concierge Yamagishi are reunited at the elegant Cortesia Hotel to stop a murder at a New Year’s Eve countdown party with 500 invitees in costume. Can they unveil the truth hidden behind the murderer’s mask in time? A fast-paced, entertaining who-done-it featuring an all-star cast. 

THE LAST TEN YEARS

The North American premiere of Michihito Fuji’s tender, deeply moving story of the transcendent power of love. Matsuri learns she has an incurable disease and only 10 years left to live. She vows not dwell on her condition, to live her best life and, given her life expectancy, she swears not to fall in love. That is, until she goes to a school reunion and meets Kazuto… Starring Nana Komatsu, Kentaro Sakaguchi and Yuki Yamada. 

IT’S A FLICKERING LIFE

Master director Yoji Yamada’s love letter to the golden age of the Japanese film industry based on the novel by popular prize-winning novelist Maha Harada.   This heartwarming tale of love, family and friendship spanning a lifetime was nominated for multiple Japanese Academy Awards including Best Picture. Starring Kenji Sawada, Masaki Suda, Mei Nagano, Nobuko Miyamoto 

LAST OF THE WOLVES

Director Kazuya Shiraishi’s action-packed continuation of the masterful yakuza saga he launched with 2018’s The Blood of Wolves. Detective Hioka has the responsibility of keeping the yakuza gangs in check but bloody war is set to erupt when psychopathic gangster Uebayashi is released from prison vowing to avenge the death of his boss. Nominated for multiple Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor, the film interweaves ferociously violent battles and complex interpersonal drama. Unmissable for fans of the great yakuza films. Starring Tōri Matsuzaka, Nijirō Murakami, Ryōhei Suzuki 

MIDNIGHT SWAN

Winner of the 2021 Japanese Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Lead Performance and Best Newcomer. Nagisa is a transgender woman who moves from Hiroshima to Tokyo to work as a dancer in a nightclub. Her distant niece, Ichika follows her to Tokyo and pursues ballet. Although initially reluctant, Nagisa takes care of Ichika and starts to develop maternal feelings for her for the first time. This powerful and heartrending film features shattering performances by its two leads and shines a light on the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community in Japan. Starring Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Misaki Hattori. 

RIBBON

The beguiling and imaginative directorial debut from actress Non. It is the winter of 2020, and art student Itsuka can no longer display her graduation project because of the recent outbreak of COVID-19.  Non also wrote this quirky and engaging coming-of-age story that captures that dream-like isolation of the early days of the pandemic while exploring the theme of how we find motivation and purpose when an unseen enemy is intent on robbing us of both. 

JUNK HEAD
Lauded by Guillermo del Toro for its monumental imagination, Junk Head is a visionary masterpiece combining dark themes, grotesque designs and even humour.
Takahide Hori’s stop motion animation is the product of seven years of laborious work. Hori was entirely self-taught and essentially created the film himself as director, writer, sculptor, animator and composer.

AND SO THE BATON IS PASSED

The moving story of two young women and their single parents. Yuko and her step-father Morimiya have a warm, almost sibling-like relationship and he tries to make her happy, Mitan’s widowed father flies off to Brazil on a job leaving her in the care of his new bride, the flamboyant Rika. But things soon get complicated… A heartwarming drama full of tears, hope, and sympathy.  Starring Kei Tanaka, Mei Nagano, Satomi Ishihara, Kurumi Inagaki, Kenshi Okada, Nao Omori 

THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION 

Did you know Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world? Focusing on four of the leading chefs in Japan today, this documentary explores the truth behind Japan’s unique and sophisticated food culture. World-renowned food experts guide the audience through the stories behind the chefs’ endless pursuit of culinary perfection. A fascinating, mouth-watering feature doc fit for foodies and lovers of Japanese culinary culture. Starring Takemasa Shinohara, Natsuko Shoji, Yosuke Suga and Takaaki Sugita 

TJFF is programmed to reflect the rich diversity of the world 4th largest film industry: premieres include:  Daihachi Yoshida’s KIBA: THE FANGS OF FICTION, fast-paced, exhilarating dissection of the Japanese publishing world; Takahiro Horie’s SENSEI, WOULD YOU SIT BESIDE ME?, the wry and perceptive look at relationships seamlessly blends the artfulness of manga with real, live-action emotions that imitates art that imitates life; Tetsu Maeda’s WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR NEST EGG!? stars two of the greats from Takarazuka theatre, Amami and Kusabue both nominated for Japanese Academy Awards; and Shuichi Okita’s ONE SUMMER STORY, a heartfelt and uplifting coming-of-age anime based on Tajima Rettou’s award winning manga.

Yukiko Sode’s ARISTOCRATS questions how boundaries of class and gender intertwine in a nuanced tale of female friendship; Hugo Sakamoto’s indie action-comedy BABY ASSASSINS;  Takahisa Zeze’s IN THE WAKE,  nominated for Best Film, Best Actor and Supporting Japanese Academy Awards is adapted from popular author Shichiri Nakayama’s best-seller is a taut, intense thriller touching on themes of collective responsibility, the limits of compassion and the stigma surrounding welfare in Japan. 

In Takayuki Hirao’s animated POMPO THE CINEPHILE a famous movie producer gives her young production assistant a chance to direct his first film. Based on the popular webcomic, Masaaki Taniguchi’s MUSICOPHILIA, tells the story of a young man with a special ability to hear sounds from the shapes and colors of objects; and the YA adventure film Takashi Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS, is a grand and hilarious adventure through the world of Japanese myth 

The Toronto Japanese Film Festival’s mandate is aligned with that of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. In the 59 years since the opening of the JCCC, film has been an important tool in creating friendship, understanding, and exchange between the Japanese and broader Canadian community. Ticket sales from the festival also help to drive our heritage programming which shares the important lessons of cultural acceptance and human rights, implicit in the Japanese Canadian experience with all Canadians.

To purchase tickets online go to Torontojff.com, or call 416-441-2345 or visit the JCCC

(6 Garamond Court M3C 1Z5) 10am – 12pm & 1pm – 5pm daily, for tickets and more information. 

·       SINGLE TICKETS: JCCC Members: $12 / Non-member   $15    

·       5 FILM PASS (100 passes are available): JCCC Members $55 / Non-members: $70 

·       10 FILM PASS (100 passes are available): JCCC members: $110 / Non-member: $140

For more information on the TJFF lineup:

https://jccc.on.ca/films/tjff

Follow the Toronto Japanese Film Festival:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseCanadianCulturalCentre/

Twitter:  @TorontoJFF

Instagram:  @torontojff

Fever Toronto presents: Candlelight Concerts “A Tribute to Adele” at the Longboat Hall (May 10, 2022)

If you are interested in a unique musical experience that is guaranteed to provide you with meditative moments – you must check out Candlelight Concerts. Fever Toronto brings Candlelight Concerts to Toronto. The Candlelight Concert series provides concerts illuminated by candlelight and performed by live musicians in some of the most iconic venues.

One of the most sought after events is A Tribute to Adele at the Longboat Hall. If you have tried tirelessly to get Adele tickets or are interested inhaling her music through a classical music lens, this event is for you.

The Listeso String Quartet sat on a stage as a warm collective in the darkened space of the Longboat Hall on Queen Street West. Longboat Hall is a historic landmark space, which embodies an inviting ambience to enjoy live music. Think dark pillars, wooden flooring rafters, chandeliers which has been transformed from a once YMCA space.

When you enter the Longboat Hall, you are met with a litter of candles quietly burning. Grab your seat, a drink from the bar and exhale. The quartet began promptly on time. They played some of Adele’s most legendary songs to date. Songs like, “Rumour Has It”, “Make You Feel My Love”, “Water Under the Bridge” and “Oh My God”. The space, the music, the ambience and the guests – created a deeply emotional collective connection. Guests had tears in their eyes, as they looked upon the musicians and the burning candles below their feet.

The musicians commenced with “Hello”. Listening to the first few notes of this song as played by the Listeso String Quartet will leave you feeling reflective. One of the violinists played music, which emulated Adele’s voice. It was magical, beautiful and most importantly moving. In that moment, I knew I would never forget this performance.

As the hour passed, we listened to “Someone Like You” and “Skyfall” which punctuated the room with elation and murmurs of a singalong in guest’s seats. I gazed upon other attendees above me in the rafters and on the floor; I noticed that the guests were transfixed. The wooden flooring creaked as guests settled into their seats between songs. The hour performance was just right to keep our attention. If the quartet had played another hour of classical music from their own portfolios, guests would have stayed longer to hear more.

Other songs that were on the tableau for the evening included of “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”, “Chasing Pavements”, “When We Were Young” and “Set Fire to the Rain”. The musical arrangements were beautifully curated. One of the musicians, by the name of Ryan, whom played the viola introduced each song with humour, which added to the relaxed atmosphere. Some guests were dressed in opulent attire, whereas others arrived in their after work clothes. After 2 years away from live music – we were present and truly letting the experience wash all over us.

As we wrapped up the evening with “Easy On Me” and “Rolling in the Deep”, there was a noted satiation amongst the guests. Would we attend another Candlelight Concert? Yes. How do we feel leaving the Candlelight Concert “A Tribute to Adele”? Happy and satisfied. As we left Longboat Hall, we passed cars playing Adele through their stereo systems with their windows wide open.

https://feverup.com/m/110666

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: The Benevolents (May 7, 2022)

The Benevolents takes us into the world of the Tel-Aide Montreal call centre, as we follow a group of future volunteers who are learning the art of empathetic listening. Through an intimate treatment, the film seeks to recall the importance of vigilant ears in a society of loneliness.

Review: The art of listening is illustrated in this gem of a film. The viewer witnesses how counsellors at Tele-Aide in Montreal create a safe space for individuals to share their stories without interruption. Elements of care such as empathy, respect and availability colours in this black and white documentary through the words of counsellors. Resplendent. Meaningful.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5

https://hotdocs.ca/

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: STILL WORKING 9 TO 5 (May 7, 2022)

The film 9 to 5 has taken its place in American history as a beloved comedy with serious subject matter. Multiple generations know every lyric to the iconic theme song that has become an anthem for working women everywhere who seek fairness, equality and dignity from their male counterparts. After more than 40 years, the feature documentary Still Working 9 to 5 celebrates the iconic film, while chronicling the important impact it had on the women’s movement of the time and one that continues today.

Still Working 9 to 5 reunites stars Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman from original 9 to 5 film, as well as Rita Moreno from the 9 to 5 TV series, Allison Janney from the Broadway musical, and other stars from the television and stage versions of the classic film. Also featured are activists and individuals closely associated with the women’s movement both now and then.

The documentary explores the comedic tone of the film and how it resonated with a wide audience at a time when the feminist message was being rejected and/or feared by a large swathe of the population. It further follows how the success of the film spawned various 9 to 5 spin-offs including a TV series (1980s) and musicals (2009 & 2019), discussing the same issues addressed in the film (and its spinoffs) and questions if the message retains its original poignancy, as well as examining what has and has not changed for women in the workplace over the last 40 years.

Review: An optimistic and upbeat film that celebrates a feminist worldview. If you are a fan of the film or enjoy the work of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton – this film is for you. A beautiful portrait into history which inspired women to embrace their gender, sexuality, and integrity.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5

https://hotdocs.ca/ 

Review: The Canadian Opera Company’s “The Magic Flute” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022)

It has been two long years since we have had an immersive opera experience that only the Canadian Opera Company can deliver. The time has come. The Canadian Opera Company welcomed back audiences with a warm heart last night with the opera fan favourite, “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As I gazed upon the patrons, I noted some interesting things. The patrons looked excited. There were individuals with their partners, young families with children, single folks and seasoned opera goers. We were together again. The time was right.

“The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the perfect choice by the Canadian Opera Company to welcome patrons new and old back into their home. It is a fresh, funny and perfect mix of light dialogue and jovial music to put a smile onto your face. For seasoned opera goers, they were satiated with a classic piece of opera they knew very well. Like the lady sitting beside me last night who hummed throughout the first act. The young man sitting on the other side of me was still and watched every detail from the SURTITLES™, to the wardrobe, actors, orchestra pit and the glorious stage production. The audience was being taken care of. Care was slowly weaving itself into the room one second at a time as the music washed over the audience.

“The Magic Flute” wove in themes of wisdom, truth, and love from the outset. Turkish-born, Austria-based tenor, Ilker Arcayürek, stars as Tamino and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner as Papageno. These two gentlemen commanded a decadent stage presence. Arcayürek provided the heartbeat to the operatic piece while Bintner loosened the mood with a delicate balance of humour and passion. Tamino and Papageno invited the audience on their journey as they travelled to rescue the kidnapped Princess Pamina played by soprano, Anna-Sophie Neher. Neher contributed a soft elegance throughout the performance while also asserting her role as heroine.

The concept of “the play within a play” challenged the audience to bear witness to what the characters were experiencing in the moment. Soprano Midori Marsh plays Papagena whose colourful exchange with Papageno injected hope into the piece. Tenor, Michael Colvin, plays Monostatos, who’s talent astounds. Sopranos, Jamie Groote and Charlotte Siegel, and mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal played the First Lady, Second, Lady and Third Lady. These three individuals are the best kept secret of the production. They embodied everything that makes “The Magic Flute” the most exquisite piece of opera through their demonstration of humour, confidence and a certain girl power. Norwegian soprano Caroline Wettergreen made her COC main stage debut as the iconic Queen of the Night. Wettergreen should be the reason that you make opera a piece of homework once you leave the performance. Wettergreen’s performance is flawless and provided the audience with a nod to grace and greatness.  Canadian Director, Anna Theodosakis is joined by acclaimed set and costume designer Myung Hee Cho, whom paints the audience with a pop- up portrait of the place and time. The audience gets lost in a lush maze which symbolizes the passage from death to re-birth, as well as the cyclical progression from night to day. Lush long dresses, tight bodices, cardboard cut-outs of giraffes, zebras and bird in cages continue to lighten the mood and conjures memories of childhood story books inked in fairytale. Lighting designer Scott Zielinski illustrates the mysteries of the outdoor world beneath the cover of night where the characters act out the rituals of the drama.

German conductor Patrick Lange returns to the COC, leading the COC Orchestra through Mozart’s whimsical Singspiel. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst guides the COC Chorus.

I encourage you to make time to see the Canadian Opera Company’s production of “The Magic Flute” in the weeks that follow (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022). It is a transformative experience and will soothe your heart and soul.

http://www.coc.ca

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: The Quiet Epidemic (May 2, 2022)

After years of living with mysterious symptoms, a young girl from Brooklyn anda DukeUniversity scientist are diagnosed with a disease said to not exist: Chronic Lyme disease.The Quiet Epidemic follows their search for answers, which lands them in the middle of avicious medical debate. What begins as a patient story evolves into an investigation into thehistory of Lyme disease, dating back to its discovery in 1975. A paper trail of suppressedscientific research, and buried documents reveals why ticks—and the diseases they carry—have been allowed to quietly spread around the globe.

According to the CDC, an estimated500,000 people are infected withLyme each year, and 10-20% of them remain sick afterantibiotic treatment. Even still, Lyme is often dismissed by the medical establishment.

Review: In true Hot Docs film selection style, The Quiet Epidemic will give you a heartbreaking but thorough insight into Lyme disease and how it destroys the lives of those afflicted and their families. I appreciated the lens of advocacy discussed by the documentary subjects. Within the pain, anguish and sorrow of a tremendous vicious medical debate – there is optimism in the voices of those living with Lyme disease.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 4.5/5

http://www.hotdocs.ca