Concert number two of the season is here for the Linden Singers of Victoria and it’s a deviation from the norm for the choral group.
This Sunday, in the hall of the First Metropolitan United Church, the group will debut I choristi: Opera through the eyes of the chorister, then again at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Sidney on March 6.
The performance is a departure from the 55-member choir’s traditional mantra of singing Canadian choral music.
I choristi regales the audience with behind-the-scenes tales of opera from the choir’s point of view, as lived by accomplished mezzo-soprano Rebecca Hass. But she won’t be singing. Instead she’s the host, bridging the gap between opera and audience.
“I’m just hopping on the bandwagon. It’s a reinvention for them and me as well,” said Hass, who’s drawing on anecdotes and other oddities from her 20 years of operatic experience, including shows by Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony.
A few years ago, Hass wrote and performed a one-woman show called So You Want to Sing a Show Tune.
“I talked about the opera life and realized I liked talking and not just singing,” she said. “Of all singers you’ll see, I’ll talk the most. I love to go out and talk about it.”
Hass, who moved to the Victoria area five years ago, recently joined CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera as a regular guest host.
This week, however, she was focused on researching the plots of the many operas touched on in I choristi. She’s performed all but two of them, but admitted to a need to “refresh myself.”
The idea for the show was conceived last year by Linden Singers’ musical director, Dr. Garry Froese.
“I had the idea of linking the pieces with (a) story,” he said. During the detailed planning, Linden Singers’ pianist Jane Edler-Davis mentioned that Hass might be interested in helping in that regard.
“(Edler-Davis) told me, ‘If you need someone to talk about opera, this is your person,”’ Froese said.
“A couple of weeks before I was to meet Hass, I heard her on CBC. It was serendipitous, hearing her as a great narrator and storyteller.”
Sunday’s show is at 3 p.m.
The following week (March 6), St. Elizabeth’s Church, at 10030 Third St. in Sidney, will host I choristi at 2:30 p.m.