ttc opera revue

Hilarious new TTC opera pokes fun at crime and Cinnabon smell

The TTC has become a hot-button debate topic in the run-up to the June 26 Toronto mayoral by-election. Crime, overcrowding, service cuts, and delayed transit lines have contributed to a general sense of malaise regarding public transit in the city, a collective disdain for the TTC getting the parody treatment in a bizarre new operatic production.

Toronto-based musical theatre group Opera Revue has borrowed the TTC's recognizable acronym for its Toronto Transit Comedy, a hilarious piece of social commentary based on the city's shared experiences with public transit in the early 2020s.

This comedic production takes some witty jabs at the transit agency's woes in the context of the upcoming June by-election, all set to the tune of the opening duet from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

And, of course, there are the reimagined lyrics courtesy of Alexander Hajek, who performs the piece along with Danie Friesen and Claire Elise Harris, featuring piano accompaniment also by Harris.

It begins innocently enough, listing off the names of stations, before dropping the first salvo roughly 40 seconds in, when Hajek sings, "You get stabbed after dark."

The operatic performance then descends into the type of chaos TTC riders are all too accustomed to these days, listing off problems plaguing the transit agency like outages and crowded shuttle buses, and taking aim at recent fare increases, policing methods, and other factors that have left — as the lyrics suggest "the public's trust eroded."

But it also pokes fun at the annoying subway passengers who make daily commuting that much more miserable, like the people who assume that their bag is entitled to its own seat on a crowded subway train. You know exactly who you are.

Even the omnipresent Cinnabon smell at Eglinton station gets pulled into the mix — a sometimes pleasant aroma that becomes a whole lot less enjoyable when one is being scarfed down next to you on a poorly-ventilated subway train.

Hajek says that opera has served as a form of political-social commentary since its inception, end evolved in an era where art's abstraction of reality was the safest means of expressing dissent.

"Open rebellion against the ruling class or foreign invaders could get you killed when these pieces were written (Viva Verdi)," says Hajek, "but not when you put some of the most glorious western music ever written beneath some witty rhymes, now it's just a 'mythical cautionary tale.'"

The Toronto Transit Comedy follows on another recent operatic parody from Opera Revue, in the Isolation Series. Created during the dark days of the pandemic, the weekly YouTube video gave people a chuckle and some musical theatre during a period when both were in short supply.

Performer Danie Friesen tells blogTO that Opera Revue "started doing these parodies during the pandemic to battle lockdown angst...little did we realize that mixing opera with current social issues was a great way to draw attention to the problems while still being able to laugh at the absurdity of life in Toronto."

And no place is life in Toronto more absurd than the TTC.

Lead photo by

Opera Revue

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