Earlier this spring, Canadian Opera Company audiences were treated to the spectacle of two queens battling for supremacy on the stage of the Four Season Centre, in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.
Now, we learn, the COC has two more queens – this time on the roof. These are queen bees, in a pair of beehives recently installed atop the Four Seasons Centre. Let's hope these queens get along a little better than Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots did: both ladies clearly had bees in their bonnets.
This is the latest idea that the COC has imported from Europe, where bees have been living on the roof of the Paris Opera for some years. However, the COC's bees are more technologically advanced than their French cousins: they have their own blog, on the COC's website. (The COC's blog can be read here.)
It would be a fine thing if the COC could make some money selling the honey the bees produce – and timely too, as the company was stung by a nasty deficit last season. But beyond that, it's not yet clear what role the bees will play within Canada's largest opera company. Will the "Humming Chorus" in Madama Butterfly be replaced with a droning chorus? Will worker bees be substituted for the slaves in the company's upcoming production of Aida? Or will the clever insects become season subscribers, occupying a block of seats in Row B?
Despite all the unanswered questions swarming around this initiative, it has all the markings of a trend that might catch on in Toronto. What will be next? A pond of frogs, kept by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and called upon whenever Israel in Egypt is programmed? An orchestra of cats, herded together for performances in the TSO's annual New Creations Festival? Bats in the belfry at Tafelmusik concerts?
Whatever happens, The WholeNote will keep readers up to date on the latest buzz.