My mantra is “I’m a lucky guy”. It’s admittedly designed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, useful because you notice the good things happening to you if you begin with the belief in their likelihood, the presupposition of good fortune and gratitude.
So there we were at the last performance of the Canadian Opera Company spring season this afternoon, including an unexpected cast change for this afternoon’s Magic Flute, that in a way resembled a bit of a preview of another show altogether.
Soprano Caroline Wettergreen who had played the Queen of the Night when I saw the show back on May 11th was not able to sing her arias or the final ensemble in today’s performance. Perhaps she had COVID? They didn’t say.
Perhaps bad luck for Wettergreen could be good luck for the rest of us: as she walked through the role, miming the part in costume, while Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 sang the role for us.
And wow did they ever sing the role. The Queen of the Night is like a cameo, the small part that everyone remembers best because her music is so phenomenal, unique and challenging.
Flashback to October 2019 when Amplified Opera debuted, including an earlier incarnation of a work created by Teiya, namely The Queen in Me. When I wrote about it on that occasion, I observed that…
“the Queen is that badass character in The Magic Flute, the Queen of the Night, soldiering against one of the most misogynistic storylines going. Sometimes the Queen sings what’s written and sometimes she bursts out of the strait-jacket of the character, both in the mechanical sense of her costume and the subtler implications of the role written for her. She is a perfect mechanism for the exploration of the mad world of opera, the many females co-opted into rituals celebrating female subjugation: except the Queen won’t do it anymore. She seems to be on a quest, exploring different roles as ways to articulate the feminist position, sometimes working within a role, sometimes fighting or subverting it. I can recall previous satirical pieces in different decades that were knowing nods to the audience, while more or less keeping the artform & its creators (this time Mozart & Schikaneder) on their pedestals. This time it’s more in keeping with the mission of Amplified Opera, as a site for activism and shit-disturbing, largely in fun yet with an underlying seriousness to its mission. They appear to be fearless.”
For 2022, with Amplified Opera now in residency with the COC as “Disruptor-in-Residence”, we anticipate the next version of The Queen in Me, coming June 2nd , 3rd and 4th to the Canadian Opera Company Theatre, co-produced by Amplified Opera, Nightwood Theatre and Theatre Gargantua, co-directed by Andrea Donaldson and Aria Umezawa.
I find that epithet “disruptor-in-residence” so intriguing. I think it’s meant to suggest that these disruptors will up-end our assumptions, change how we see and feel, to enable us to experience the old works in new ways.
Teiya’s Queen in Me goes far beyond what Mozart wrote, a critique framed around this edgy and disruptive figure.
Of course the Queen of the Night was already a disruptor even before Teiya’s exploration of subtexts enlarged into a whole new piece of drama, a prototype and a role model.
But let me just say that today it was thrilling to hear that voice again, singing the two arias plus the ensemble at the end of the opera.
If you want to read more and/or to obtain tickets click here.