Jamie Johnstone dances for the crowd at the youthfest that winds up The 39 Days of July. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Lexi Bainas column: Plenty starting in September

A note for my opera-loving fans following my announcement of the Met season. Since I’m on the Met Opera Shop mailing list, I get notices about sales on a lot of toothsome items, from kids costumes to jewelry to binoculars, and, of course, CDs and DVDs galore.

The featured CD this week has been Callas: Mad Scenes. The truly legendary soprano Maria Callas, who died the same day as Elvis, loved to dig deep into the repertoire, bringing blinking into the daylight many forgotten operas that might have lain there forever but for her. (Some of them have probably returned to obscurity by now, too, lacking her chutzpah to push them forward.)

But, this is a remastering of a 1958 recording includes mad scenes from Il Pirata, Hamlet, and Anna Bolena. One must admit that those are not exactly household names, despite the recent efforts of La Netrebko.

As for the CD, one reviewer states: “Buckets of blood and fun!”

***

Tonight marks the opening of the 151st Cowichan Exhibition, and they’ve got a super lineup of entertainers ready to make your visit to the fair tuneful.

On the Spirit Stage, local band Black Moon will kick off the festivities at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, followed, after the opening ceremonies, by headliners, Eagle Eyes, at 8 p.m. They’ll be presenting a remarkable tribute to the Eagles that has made them fans all over the Pacific Northwest.

On Saturday, Sept. 7, at 5 p.m., you can enjoy the music of rock & rollers Backyard Elephant, followed at 8 p.m. by the headliners, Completely Creedence, with their tribute to the boot stompin’ sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Of course, there is so much more to entertain you at The Ex, but these are the Spirit Stage big names.

There are also, for a younger audience, Matt Henry with his crowd pleasing Big Bubble and Comedy Juggling Stunt Show on Saturday afternoon, plus daily performances by local dancers from the many studios around the Cowichan Valley.

***

Friends of musical theatre, and singing in general will be saddened to hear — if they haven’t already — of the death of Peter Yelland this week.

The Cowichan Musical Society posted on Facebook: “It is with great sadness that we are announcing the passing of Peter Yelland. Peter had been musical director and actor in many CMS shows with the last two being Pirates of Penzance and Oliver. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Anne and to all of his family and friends. Peter’s kindness and passion will never be forgotten and his legacy will carry on.”

Like many others in the Valley, I personally remember Peter as a choir director, his dedication to getting the best out of everyone, and, of course, his love of Gilbert and Sullivan.

***

Pauline Truesdale tells me that rehearsals for the Cowichan Consort Orchestra & Choir resume as follows:

Orchestra: Monday, Sept. 9, 7.30-9.30 p.m. with Robert Mari; and Choir, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 7-9 p.m. with Susan Doughty.

Please notice the half hour time difference. (Is there a Newfoundlander in the crowd?)

All rehearsals are at Sylvan United Church, Shawnigan Lake Mill Bay Road unless otherwise indicated.

All strings and singers welcome. Call 250-748-5099 for more information.

***

I’m also hearing from the gals at Encore! that this women’s choral group is also auditioning new members.

Interested? Call Christine at 250-715-1568 for more information.

After all, according to Choral Director: the choral directors’ management magazine, “singing in a choir makes you happier”.

***

It’s September, no wonder everyone’s up and at ‘em.

The Kaatza Lakeside Players Society is back with a bang, too.

“Big news! We’re holding auditions for our upcoming fall/winter production, Little Scrooge. Meet us at 6:30 p.m. in the upper Centennial Hall on Sept. 9 and Sept. 11 to audition, or to learn about ways you can help.

“There’s no need to bring a prepared piece, although if you can sing or play an instrument, please do show us your talents. The auditions take place in a relaxed environment and we’re eager to work with you to help you overcome stage fright. Please do audition! We also need people to help backstage, so there are lots of opportunities for those who want to become involved. Rehearsal nights will likely be Monday and Wednesday nights.”

This is apparently a fun show, adapted from A Christmas Carol, with roles for all ages, including lots of roles for kids.

“Anyone who wants to take part must be available Nov. 29-30.”

***

While I’m on the subject of entertainment at Lake Cowichan, how about an evening of Outlaw Country, featuring the songs of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, performed by David James and Big River?

You can enjoy a fun night out at the Lake Cowichan Legion Saturday, Sept. 14, starting at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30).

Tickets are $20 and the show is open to both members and guests. For tickets, call 250-749-6041.

I’ve seen these guys onstage in Duncan. David James does a great job as Johnny Cash. So, get the gang together and get those tickets before they’re gone.

***

Cowichan’s Jamie Johnstone, ace tap dancer who is heading to Germany and Calgary for rehearsals and competitions with Team Canada, is on the fundraising trail.

One of the events he’s holding is a Beer & Burger fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Cow Bay Pub from 4-7 p.m. This is a 19+ event.

Tickets are $25 each. Email johnstone@shaw to purchase tickets.

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Jamie Johnstone comes right out into the crowd to dance at the youthfest that winds up The 39 Days of July. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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