7 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 7 - April 2002

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Jy Dorith Cooper Opera

Jy Dorith Cooper Opera 'in Toronto is alive and well, and April is opera month. Through diligent and committed leadership, opera in our city now extends into the realms of OPERA & M11s1c T1rnATRE Opera in Toronto: A Flourishing Community Resource performance, education and composition ~- a multi-disciplinary art form combining the talents of artists in many fields, well established and supported by a large, loyal and well-informed musical constituency. That.was not always the case. In the 1880s Toronto could boast of two opera houses, used mostly by intemation8.J. touring companies. But by the 1930s, opera in the city was a much reduced artistic force. Its recovery and metamorphosis into a mature Canadian-based art form took many years of patient assembly of the educational, artistic and physical infrastructure that today makes Toronto one of North America's liveliest operatic centres. For the first time, the citY is to have its own month-long Opera Festival, from April 5 to May 4, presented collectively by five leading opera companies. The official Festival will have 21 performances of 9 different' works, and other lyric associations have scheduled productiOns to coincide with the festivities, bringing the total to 75 performances of22 works. . At the heart of the Festival is the prestigious annual Opera America conference, in Toronto's downtown Hilton, April 20-24. The COC will host it; along with Autumn Leaf Per- . formance, Opera Atelier, Opera Ontario (Hamilton), Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, Soundstrearns Canada, and Tapestry New Opera Works. The event is being held in conjunction with the Professional Opera Companies of Canada (POCC) and Opera Volunteers Intematioiial (OVI). Collaboration and sharing of rbources are the emerging themes in Toronto's arts scene. Richard Bradshaw, General Director of the COC, observes that "this Opera Festival can point the way to future co-operation, and could be expanded to include the planning of joint, complementary artistic ventures with the ';[oronto Symphony, the National Ballet, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and perhaps Soulpepper Theatr!!. The Several other organizations have planned performances at the same time as the Festival, further demonstrating Toronto's rich operatic environment. Audiences can look forward to the Toronto Consort's period performance of Monteverdi's other mature work, fl Ritorrl{J d'Ulisse in Patria; and to Opera n.ame of the game is collaboration spectives and approaches they have Anonymous' program of three one­ ... because if one of us is applied to the opera stage. act chamber operas: Riders to the languishing, it's bad for the whole Another fascinating highlight will Sea by Vaughan Williams, The Teleartistic community." be the Production Showcase in which / phone by Menotti, and LG Piz.z.a con Opera America Conference opera companies display models, Funghi - a satirical work by the The seeds for the Festival were sown ground plans and videos of upcom- American composer Seymour Barab. more than a year ago when Opera ing pr~jects, and provide rental in- Commissioning and developing formation of costumes and set de- · . . America announced that it would signs __ useful in this age of the co- new ";'ork 1s one topic on the Confe;- hold its annual conference in Toronto od f . I fr bTty d ence s agenda. For Toronto s - the first time since the early pr uc ion. ssues 0 ia 11 an Tapestry New Opera Works - 1~80's. Organiz~rs say it was a safety ~eas~res are .also to be ex- who produced Iron Road last year h th, Id , b d plored m Risky Business: Steps to . ·. th . · . d'' Th . c ance at ·cou n t e passe up. Health and Safety Onstage and Off - 1t 1s eir very raison. etre.. err "People from the opera business (particularly timely given the recent work encourage~ artists ~o solve world-wide," says Bradshaw, "will 'd 1 bl' ,_...,, "-eak 'd t d problems of the mterplay between h . . fi h d w1 e y-pu 1cu .... u1· acc1 en ur- b 1 . d . al . · ave an opporturuty to see JrSt- an . th M tr !'tan('),..,, , ver a action an music act10n. th C d h d I t f mg e e opo 1 '-'l"'ra s open- T , A · · n· w at ana a as a great ea o o - ingnightperformanceofProkofiev's apestry s rt1st1c 1rector ayne fer." Micheline McKay, Director Wc and 0 ) Strongman has for seven years o f Pocc , 1s · c I ose· t o th e p I anrung · ar reace. o ffi ere d a h'ghl 1 y 1nnovat1ve · · senes · o f process for the Festival and the Con- Opera F~ival 2002 Composer-Librettist Laboratories ference. For her, Toronto is a logi- Leading the Opera Festival's diverse (Lib-Labs) in which participants cal choice-since it is "one of the most offerings are three COC productions: work collaboratively with several diverse operatic centres on the conti- Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov; partners over a one-week session. nent." Claire flopkinson, Ch.air of Handel's Giulio Cesare; and the "It's not for everybody" says POCC, and General Ma_nager of concertpremiereofTheScarlet Prin- Strongman, "because many people Tapestry, believes it will give the cess by Alexina Louie and David are unable to share that creative Toronto region a boost in opera ton- Hwang. Opera Atelier will present space ... Bur if you're ready for it, sciousness: "It will tell audiences that Monteverdi's L 'incoronazione di then this exercise opens up new they should give opera a chance and Poppea; and Hamilton's Opera possibilities that you've never that there are many ways to enter Ontario will present Bizet's Les dreamed of being able to do sitting this rich art form." Pecheurs de Perles. Tapestry New alone in your studio." Opera America is the service Opera Works will launch itS Opera Alexina Louie's six-minute opera to Go program, promoted as "four Toothpaste, recently heard in organization for opera in North America. Its conference, entitled bite-sized" new Canadian works Toronto, had its creative roots in Op R ll . U. 't 0 . Ad . commissioned from composer-Ii- Tape~try's frrstLib-Lab, which was era . athy. 1 lJl e,t rgualamze,th - . brettist colleagues trained in the Tap- then organized co-operatively with vance, 1s e arges ann ga er- . · th c d' Ope c H ing of opera professionals in the estry studio. . . . e ana ian ra ompany. er · Id ·th 600 · t t' nal Also, the considerable achieve- new full-length work, The Scarlet wor , w1 over m ema 10 f C d' -11 n · · · 'th l'b · D 'd d I t Its . ., tu art' ments o ana 1an composers w1 rnncess, wntten w1 1 rettist av1 e ega es. sess10ns 1ea re 1s- b ., d " Canad' o H H · · ti. 1...,,;";" d 1 t ed ti' e ieature m a tan rpera enry wang on a comm1ss10n c uau.w1g, eve opmen' uca on, Sha 'th fr . f h coc ·11 . . fmance/administration marketing/ wcase, w1 excerpts om pro~- rom t e , w1 receive 1.ts . . . ' . nent works of the past 35 years m- premiere concert presentation on public rel~tions, technical/producnon, eluding Harry Somers' Louis Riel , April 23, and promises to be one:of volunteensm and ~overnance .. The Murray Schafer's RA; Gary thehighpointsoftheOperaAmerica keynote spe~er is the Amenc,,an Kulesha' s Red Emma; and John Conference and Festival. composer Ph1hp Glass, famous ior E ta . ·, k ""l N Building Audiences The nurturing of Toronto's future audiences is an active concern of the opera community. "At the COC, we've spent a lot of time trying to get away from the notion that opera is for people over 55 with big bank accounts," says Richard Bradshaw. "Our audiences are getti~ significantly younger, 20 h. I d k " ·,, ·i s c10 snewwor rt umena. ew 1s an mar · portrait tn ogy, C ct· d 'd f h · · h Saty .~i.~ ana 1an-ma e v1 eos o s ort op- E1nstem on the Beac , agrwiu ill be · · · d Akhnat eras w on view m a session an ~~ts Margaret Atwood, organized by Autu~n Leaf Perfor- At E D . LeBI , d. mance and Bravo. FACT. Roundom goyan, 1ana ancj an . , th F · al ffi · ill be Randolph Peters will come together mg out e estiv 0 ermg~ w . in a seminar led;by Opera America's the man~atory Opera 9mz with President and CEO Marc Scorca ~veryo~~~avounte quiz master: entitled Opera's Magnetic Force, tuart · on. offering insights to the individual Apri I 1 -- May 7 2002

season by season, and we're attracting them with 'risky' works that are challenging and adventurous. For Salome this year, 38 % of our audience were under 30 years of age, and for our recent double bill production ofBluebeard 's Qistle and Envartwig, itwas40%." . To develop very young children's understanding of lyric theatre, the CDC's Esso Kids Afterschool Opera Program has youngsters design, rehearse and perform IO-minute works (written especially for them by Canadian composer Dean Burry). Another innovator is Giuseppe Macina, for 35 years artistic director of the grassroots Toronto Opera Repertoire program which performs in: Board of Education locations 1 • Believing that the presence of opera fh non-traditional venues such' as muse~ gives children a clear and imaginative signal designed to arouse their curiosity' he jumped at the chalice to have his students participate in the Royal Ontario Museum's Sunday concert series. On April 21, and in conjunction with the Coro Verdi of the Centro Scuolo e Cultura Italiana of Columbus Centre, he will present a semi-staged production of Verdi's fl Trovatore, free with museum admission. Opera is once again a living artistic force in Toronto, and Festival 2002 offers a wide range of opportunities to sample this great art form. It also gives us an extended opportunity to appreciate the · contribution of Toronto's, lyric associations to community life. They deserve. our fullest support. Dorith Cooper may be reached at For Festival and Conference details, . visit 0PFRA & M1rs1c THEATRE OPERA GALORE AND A TOUCH OF TABLA By Sarah B. Hood Triple excitement in the realm of 11ew opera productions this month! First, from April 10 to 28, Fides Krucker's new company Good Hair Day Productions presents a threepart performance made up of a reprise of Gavin Bryars' The \Wzite Lodge; the Toronto premiere of The Mercy Suite, based on the Rainer Weins opera Down Here On Earth, and, title piece for the show, the world premiere of Wende Bartley's The girl with no door on her mouth, about the relationships between voice and gender roles. Krucker (who sings all three works) elaborates on the "new opera" designation - which she says could apply to her current project - as follows: "I trained at Banff, and they called this form music theatre. But in a lot of work that is called 'new opera', I feel that' the use of the voice hasn't evolved from what was defined back in Verdi's time. The word 'opera' is still an inflated word for me; this piece is so intimate." An important element, she says, is the exploration of the flow between live and recorded sound, light and design. "We try and immerse the space as well as myself into the visual realm." On April 22 Tapestry New Opera Works present the saucily-titled Opera To Go, a showcase of four short works: Erik Ross and Jovanni Sy's Haiku Moments; Jeffrey Ryan and Michael Lewis MacLennan's The Laurels; Omar Daniel and Alex Poch-Goldin's Lisa, and Melissa Hui and Jovanni Sy's The Cell.qr Attention All Friends, Singers and· Musicians! The NOCC is starting ah exciting project: a workshop on the famous Queen of Spades, by P.I. Tchaikovsky. (Sung, of course, in Russian) Roles are still available, as this workshop will be double-cast. We are planning to start rehearsing in the second half of April, and to perform at the end of July 2002. Efficient Russian diction help will be provided. All those interested should contact us via e-mail at nocc@hotmail.coni or by, phone (416-604-1557) to arrange auditions or to ask any questions. Please spread the word to potentially interested singers. We are also looking for volunteers to help with administrative work ahd PR Best regards, Mila Fialtova, Director, The NOCC Tel : 416-604-1557 April 1 -- May 7 2002 \ E-mail: www.thewhole Door. ThefollowingnighttheCOC Mississauga's full-scale Aida at. Orchestra and Chorus perform the Mississauga's Living Arts Centre debut of The Scarlet Princess, a runs on four dates betWeen April 27 brand-new, ,Kabuki inspired opera- and May 4. (If you've always by composer Alexina Louie and pictured yourself on the other side playwright David Henry Hwang. of the footlights, give Opera Mussorgsky to Menotti Mississauga a call at 905-465-3900, Among a host of other operatic of-. because at time of writing they were ferings this month are the COC's ·seeking women from 16 to 18 and Boris Godunov by Modest men 16 and older to act as supemu­ Mussorgsky, running in repertoire meraries (extras) in Aida. Rehearswith Handel's Julius Caesar from als are April 18 to 25, with shows April 5 to 14. Boris stars Gidon April 27 to May 4). Saks, who began his career with the . And furthermore ... COC ensemble, and has previously Opera Ontario is offering Bizet's performed the· role in London and The Pearl Fishers from April 20 to Dublin, in both English and 27 at Hamilton Place and on May 4 Russian. The bass-baritone says he's at The Centre in the Square in pleased to be rt;turning to the original Kitchener. L' Atelier iyrique de Russian fortheTorontoproduction, L'Opera de Montreal presents although to his ear "it's a challenge Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte on April 5 for singing tender emotions." at the Oakville Centre for the Per- " I have these sweet, tender scenes forming Arts. And, one of the with my children" he says "and it month's mostunusualoperaevents, sounds like I'm spewing invective." Opera Anonymous presents a tri­ Verdi fans take note There is a family friendly concert version of It Trovatore at the ROM on April 21 and Opera ple bill entitled Three One Act Operas in English, coming up from April 19 to 21 at The Theatre Centre •'• AND A TOUCH OF TABLA CONTINUES ON PAGE 44 The Toronto Consort presents HE - RETURN OF ULYSSES · by Claudio A:fonteverdi in concert April 5 &. 6, 2002 at Bpm Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear this operatic masterpiece. David Fallis directs a full 17th-century orchestra of lutes, guitar, harp, keyboards, strings and recorders. With William Hite as · Ulysses, .Laura Pudwell as Penelope, Suzie LeBlanc as Minerva and Kevin Skelton as Telemachus. With the generous support of the Estate of Mr. Peter Sandor. Trinity-St. Paul's C hurch, 427 Bloor St. West

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