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Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

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On OPERA by Christopher

On OPERA by Christopher Haile This year, as everybody knows, the Canadian Opera Company will be moving on to a new stage, both physically and metaphorically. Yet, though the Toronto opera world may concentrate its attention on the new house this year, many of the area's other companies are also going through notable periods of transition. Opera Atelier is soon to reach an artistic goal it has long prepared for. Tapestry New Opera Works is regrouping after the departure of Producer and General Manager Claire Hopkinson. Queen of Puddings Music Theatre is about to make its international debut. Toronto Operetta Theatre and Opera in Concert are planning significant changes for next season. And David Speers, the new General Director of Opera Ontario, has plans to reinvigorate the company in many ways. To start with the COC, Bellini's "Norma" (March 30-April 15) and Berg's "Wozzeck" (March 31- April 13) will be the final two operas the company will present at the Hummingbird Centre. To underscore the importance of this event, the COC has invited former COC Artistic Director Lotfi Mansouri to return to direct "Wozzeck " , which he originally helmed in 1990. The production is designed by Michael Levine, now best known as the designer of the COC's Ring Cycle. For "Norma", American soprano June Anderson sings the title role joined by Attila Fekete as Pollione and Marianna Kulikova as Adalgisa. Franc;:ois Racine, longtime associate of Robert Lepage, will direct. After a series of inaugural concerts in June, the COC gives the new house a sonic workout with three complete Ring Cycles in September. Lotfi Mansouri Running its own house has many implications. Since it is 1000 seats smaller than the Hummingbird Centre, there will be more performances of each opera, including new Saturday matinees. But in the future, there will be not only more performances but also more productions. According to COC Public The Alexander Singers & Players I present f idd er on the Koof Book by Joseph Stein, Lyrics by Sheldon Hornick and Music by Jerry Bock Under the artistic direction of Vincenzo Sestito, Gwyneth Sestito and Brigitte Pilato Leah Posluns Theatre (4588 Bathurst Street) Plenty of Free Parking May 13, 18, 19, 20 at 8:00 p.m. May 14 and 21 at 2:00 p.m. May 17 - 12:00 noon performance Ticket: Adults .50, Seniors/Students .00 To reserve tickets, call (416) 324-1259 or e-mail: tickets@alexandersingers.com This June, Opera Ontario will hold a workshop of the first opera it has ever commissioned - "Thayendanegea ", about the life of Upper Canadian Mohawk chief Joseph Brant (1742-1807) , composed by Tomas Dusatko to a libretto by Lisa Van Every of the Six Nations Writers Guild. Relations Associate Melissa Than, the number of COC mainstage productions will slowly increase over the years from the present six to a total of nine. General Director Richard Bradshaw has always maintained that it is impossible to present a "balanced" season with only six operas. With nine it will be possible to achieve a balance not just in terms of period and composer, but also in terms of language, style and size of opera. One immediate effect will be more productions of Mozart. Besides this, the new "Aerial Amphitheatre" in the lobby of the Four Seasons Centre will be home to approximately 90 concerts per year starting this year. Opera Atelier, Canada's Baroque opera company, also finds itself at a turning point. As part of the company's 20th anniversary celebrations, OA will present Mon- Opt raHamil1onlKltc~entr·Wat• rioo Optra La Traviata ·, teverdi's "Orfeo" (1607), the work the company began with all those years ago in the Walker Court of the AGO. The new production, the first in Toronto since 1989, runs April 15-23 at the Elgin Theatre and features Daniel Belcher as Orfeo, Carla Huhtanen as Euridice and Curtis Sullivan as Plutone. This time the work will be sung in Italian with English and French surtitles. Those who have followed interviews in this column with Marshall Pynkoski, OA' s Co-Artistic Director, will know that OA has been planning for many years to move into I 8th-century French repertoire. To give the singers (and the audience) the background to appreciate this repertoire, Pynkoski has deliberately programmed works such as Marc-Antoine Charpentier's "Acteon" and "Medee" and Lully's "Persee" and "Armide", masterpieces in themselves, OPERA HAMIL TON & KITCHENER WATERLOO OPERA PRESENT forOS.06 .)_~4 ~ ~ J Violetta Alfredo Germon! Jeanine Thames Marc Hervieux John Fanning Hamilton Place - Sat., April 29; Thurs., May 4 & Sat., May 6 at 8pm Centre In The Square, Kitchener - Fri., May 12 at 8pm and Sunday May 14 at 2pm Mother's Day Special May 14 - Buy 2 tickets and MOM attends FREE Box OFFICE: 905-526-6556 OR 1-800-265-8977 34 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM APRIL 1 · M AY 7 2006

ut also important antecedents for the declamatory style characteristic of the 18th century. All this careful preparation will reach fruition in the 2007-08 season when OA presents Jean-Philippe Rameau's "Castor et Pollux" (1737, rev . 1754). According to Pynkoski , OA also has other long-range plans that promise much excitement. One is the expansion from two productions per year to three, the third being a smaller work to be staged most likely in the new theatre at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Another is the expansion of OA' s repertoire into the 19th century. After all, Tafelmusik itself has al ready essayed Beethoven's symphonies with results widely hailed as revelatory. Opera Ontario, Canada' s fourth largest producer of opera, has had a new General Director, David Speers, since July 2004. Speers spent 22 years at Calgary Opera followed by five years at Arizona Opera. There he helped raise the subscriber base from 8000 to 15,000. In Speers's view, Opera Ontario's position in relation to the COC is like the New York City Opera' s in relation to the Met. Speers seeks to make Opera Ontario a showcase for Canadian talent not just in secondary roles but in the leads. Next season will see Lyne Fortin and Sally Dibblee as Donnas Anna and Elvira, Richard Margison and Allyson McHardy as Saint-Saens's Samson and Dalila and Frances Ginzer as Tosca. Speers' s plan is to offer two subscription nights per season in Hamilton, rather than the present three, and two in Kitchener. As the COC does with favourites like "Turandot" or "La Boheme" , he wants the flexibility to add to this base a variable number of non-subscription nights based on a popular work 's potential drawing power. Speers plans to maintain the current scheme of one to two concert evenings, two familiar operas plus one less familiar one, using that last slot to explore everything from lesser-known works of wellknown composers like "La Fanciulla de! West" to 20th-century works like Carlisle Floyd's "Of Mice and Men", in productions that have proven successful in regional companies. In a new venture this June, Opera Ontario will hold a workshop of the first opera it has ever commissioned - "Thayendanegea" , about the life of Upper Canadian Mohawk chief Joseph Brant (1742-1807), composed by Tomas Dusatko to a libretto by Lisa Van Every of the Six Nations Writers Guild. Many of Toronto's smaller opera companies are also about to take exciting new steps. Dairine Ni Mheadhra, Co-Artistic Director of Queen of Puddings Music Theatre writes that the company' s trip CONTINUES This production sponsored by ~

Volume 26 (2020- )

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