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Opera singer spreads joy to isolated Torontonians with balcony performances
TORONTO -- A Toronto opera singer has been serenading neighbours from a fifth-floor balcony, spreading joy to people in isolation during the COVID-19 crisis.
Teiya Kasahara told CTV News Toronto they were inspired by people in Italy who have been making music on their balconies while in lockdown.
“It was really great acoustics,” said Kasahara, who lives in a residential tower just south of Queen’s Quay East, between Sherbourne and Parliament streets.
“We are in very crazy, unprecedented times and it’s just like ‘Why not?‘ share some of the music and the joy.”
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The 34-year-old, who studied music in B.C., has sung with the Canadian Opera Company’s ensemble studio and has worked in the United States and Europe. Kasahara said the shutdown has resulted in different symphony, concert and acting gigs to be cancelled.
The renditions take place around 6:15 p.m. and are about the length of a song, but there are times the audience wants more.
“If people want to hear it again, they usually yell ‘again’ or ‘encore’, and then that’s it,” they said.
In videos posted online, people can be heard clapping and cheering saying ‘bravo’ as Kasahara waves to the audience.
The soprano said the songs themselves are a mixture of opera and oratorio. Kasahara is also looking at singing some musical theatre numbers and operatic versions of well-known pop songs.
Kasahara has performed five times from the balcony so far and said they plan on singing 19 times to symbolize COVID-19.
The feeling of joy Kasahara is spreading has also being reciprocated. Neighbours have dropped off muffins and chocolates, and when Kasahara sings, some joggers stop and cars honk.
“It’s really cute. It’s really fun, and just to see people for the first time, shocked,” Kasahara said. “It’s a fun, weird experiment being in this little bubble.”
Out of the experience, Kasahara is also meeting more neighbours, and plans to work with a violinist down the road and a pianist.
Kasahara also applied to a program with the National Arts Centre and received $1,000 to perform live from the balcony on April 1.
“I think music really allows me and hopefully others as well to connect with something real, and what is really important in life, as cliché as it sounds,” Kasahara said.
“It’s about love and generosity and friendship and community and looking out for each other and sharing in that.”
“If we can do that through art, through music, that just makes it all the better. We’ll get through these hard times.”