The 40th season is coming to a close for Manitoba Opera and they are ending on a perfect note, with Aida. With one final chance to catch this performance on Friday, April 19th you really don’t want to miss it. This is a tragic but touching love story about an Ethiopian princess who is forced to become an Egyptian slave and she falls in love with the leader of the Egyptian army. Confronted by her father, who is taken prisoner she is forced to choose between her country and her love.
My beautiful cousin Madison, who just turned 18, was my date. It was her first time at the opera and as a singer and performer I knew that even if she didn’t love the style, she would appreciate the music and talent. We both agreed that Michele Capalbo, who plays Aida was a show stopper. Her emotional and dynamic singing was literally breathtaking. I had a feeling that those deep crescendos Verdi does so well, and sung perfectly by Capalbo, would give Madison the shivers and they certainly did.
Aida is a huge opera, in fact it’s the largest opera that the company stages and it is impressive to see. With the huge, forbidding sets, designed by Robert Oswald taking us to ancient Egypt and over 68 singers in the cast it is a truly powerful performance. There were a lot of locals in the cast including Phillips Ens, who plays Ramfis the high priest, Gregory Dahl, who plays Amonasro the king of Ethiopia, David Watson who plays the King of Egypt and last but not least Lara Ciekiewicz who plays the High Priestess. I had the pleasure of hearing Lara sing an Aria at Bistro 7 1/4 not long ago and was blown away by her voice and presence, I can’t wait to see her next year in La Bohème.
There was also some excellent performances from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Aspirant Program, which was a great addition to the opera. Overall, it was a grand and beautiful production, everything you should expect from Verdi.
Happy 40th Birthday Manitoba Opera! I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 40 years have in store.
Photo credits to Manitoba Opera – R. Tinker
What makes a good restaurant? We all have our criteria we use to judge and we all have our own tastes. For me, a big part of what makes a place really stand out, is about more than the food. When you walk in, how do you feel? At your table do you feel like you’re a priority or a bother for the staff? Is the vibe warm or cold? Are you being rushed or encouraged to enjoy your experience? When we share a meal, it is about more than the food, it’s about the time we spend together and the intimacy of eating.
I grew up in a house where food and cooking were central to the time we spent as a family. Meals were always at the table and Sundays were, and still are, spent with aunts, uncles and cousins around a formal dining table enjoying a meal cooked with love by my grandma. So when I go out to eat, it’s about all of that. I could have not been more excited at the invitation to spend an evening with a group of amazing women and fellow bloggers at The Lobby on York trying out their new spring menu.
Head Chef, Jesse Friesen is kicking it up a notch with some fantastic dishes and some real standouts on the starters list. Village Bay Oysters, served with red wine mignonette and lemon are a feature, especially on buck a shuck night every Thursday. One of my favourites is the Albacore tuna tartare which was meaty and fresh. The mains feature some spectacular steaks and rich sides to satisfy even the most serious carnivore and believe me I was out with some of them. The Portobello Rib Steak was perfectly cooked and swimming happily in truffle butter. Flanked by risotto and my personal weakness, mac and cheese, I was in heaven.
The atmosphere in the Lobby is elegant and you feel like you’re about to enjoy something special. Service has been consistently attentive but not over bearing, which can be a very fine line and this dinner was no exception. If you can manage it, leave room for dessert. I was somehow able to taste everything that was offered but it was a stretch!
This restaurant has shown some serious willpower sticking around through what felt like never ending construction but it’s finally done and they are ready to host you. With so many things going on in our downtown, it will be easy to find a reason to make it in. And when you do, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
It’s the end of the Opera season already but as a fantastic farewell gift for us, Manitoba Opera is presenting Verdi’s masterpiece – Aida and I’ve got two tickets for you! April 16th, that’s a Tuesday night, at 7pm you could be taking in this epic production. This was the first opera I ever saw and I’ve been in love since. Set in ancient Egypt, it is a beautiful and of course tragic story about an Ethiopian princess, Aida who falls in love with Radames, leader of the Egyptian forces.
Never been to an opera before? Don’t worry, the signing is in Italian but there are translations projected above the stage so you’ll be able to follow along. To win the tickets, leave a comment letting us know who would be your perfect date to the opera. For the record, I’ll get you the tickets but the date is up to you
Draw is on April 14th – See you there!
Ride the Cyclone, put on by the Tom Hendry Warehouse is without question my surprise standout for the season. They ended their season with a fantastic, playful production. The premise, 6 teens killed on a roller coaster, may be considered a little questionable but the writing and the performances were knock outs! The play starts out with the group realizing they are all dead and with the guidance of the Amazing Karnack (a carnival fortune teller) they get some less than comforting assurances that they are in fact dead and that a contest, with totally indiscriminate rules, will save one of their lives.
The Saint Cassian Chamber Choir is then thrust into a dark version of American Idol, without the rules and we get a glimpse into their darkest thoughts and feelings. They are a group of young people that surprise us with their vulnerable stories. The cast was young and very talented, my favourite number was by Noel Gruber played by Kholby Wardell who absolutely nailed the vocals and emotion of a song about dreaming of being a prostitute in post war Paris. The audience, me included, was shouting their enthusiasm at the end of his number. Returning to the stage as Mischa Bachinsky, Jameson Matthew Parker (from last seasons standout play, Red) gives a dynamic performance of tough young male energy and unexpected vulnerability in his story dreaming of his wedding to idolized Ukrainian girlfriend.
The performances were wonderful but I also enjoyed the reminder about what it was like to be young. Everything was more intense, powerful and painful. The devastation of being hurt by a friend or being in love is never more unfiltered and pure. We get too caught up in responsibility and detail the older we get, we forget how to be present in the moment. If your life ended today, would you be happy with how full you lived it?
Now beyond the obvious pleasure of seeing a great and hilariously dark musical here is the second story with this production. This underdog play has it’s sights on Broadway and there are a lot of people who believe it’s possible. This is your opportunity to say you saw it first. Trust me you won’t regret it!
It’s the month of musicals at MTC and I couldn’t be happier! The John Hirsch Mainstage presents Daddy Long Legs, until April 6th and it is one of my favourites of the season so far. It’s a romantic coming of age story, based on the novel by Jean Webster (great niece to Marc Twain), written in 1912. I’m especially touched by stories that are written so many years ago and still feeling like we can identify with them.
Some might call it a bit predictable but let’s be serious, isn’t every romantic comedy the same? We all hope they get together in the end and are happy when they do. While the overall story is very touching the real stand out is the writing and the singing. Megan McGinnis, who plays Jerusha Abbot has a voice that is crystal clear and the acting chops to show us a girl transforming into a woman.
I was touched by the independence that Jerusha was written in. Being sent to college in the early 1900′s would not have been an easy walk especially with limited rights when you graduated. Still years away from the Nineteenth Amendment women were only just beginning to find their place in the working world. For orphans without any support, a future without an education would have been very bleak indeed. And thanks to Jervis Pendelton, played by Robert Adelman Hancock, Jerusha got the chance she deserved. Hancock’s performance was surprisingly playful and his voice was a pleasure from start to finish. Who doesn’t long for the days of handwritten letters and honorable intentions?
There were some fantastic lyrics by Tony and Olivier Award Winner, and writer of Daddy Long Legs, John Caird and two that stood out to me in particular. Jerusha talks about what a struggle it is in the John Grier Home to wear your enemies clothes year after year. There is a lot we take for granted but that was one I hadn’t really thought about. The other was her writing to her sponsor, Daddy Long Legs as she calls him, about loving him despite never having met him. What is someone supposed to do with their heart when they are truly alone? What a powerful question. It was a welcome opportunity to consider all my blessings
Photo credit to Jeanne Tanner- RMTC