5 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 7 - April 2005

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Bradshaw doing what he

Bradshaw doing what he started CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11 excesses of European directors like Peter Konwitschny. He even cheerfully admits to booing "very loudly" at a recent performance of Don Carlos in Vienna, where part of the action took place in the washrooms and foyers of the Staatsoper. "I'm skeptical of conceptdriven opera. If it works, that's great. But the trend of directors reinterpreting an opera by saying, 'What is my concept?' and then come hell or high water making it work, is regrettable. We had a production here once which was so illogical that the stage director was trying to change the supertitles so that they did not say what was being sung." "I think the important thing for a director is to listen to the music, and then work from that. I remember an image in Erwartung, for example, when the dead body very slowly rolled, rolled, rolled into the pool of blood which had been created by the previous opera, Bluebeard's Castle. The director, Robert Lepage, had come into rehearsal not knowing what he was going to do in that section, and he asked me to play the music again. We played it three times - there is no singing and no text, and almost nothing happens but a reiterated phrase. The idea of that body rolling came right out of the music." "I'm thinking, as we go into ll Trovatore, that in any operatic production, although you are dealing with big myths and passions, you're also bringing the unconscious to consciousness. You have to allow the music to point the way rather than imposing on it a structure." Also upcoming this month is Tancredi. Over the years Bradshaw has treated Toronto audiences to a number of Rossini comedies. "It was important to do a serious Rossini," he says. So, although Rossini wrote two alternative endings for Tancredi, they are doing the tragic ending. "Tancredi is such a very strong piece dramatically, and for me the tragic ending works." "With Rossini, you are unashamedly doing it for the voices. In the end, we're doing this as a vehicle for Ewa Podles. I think she's one of the great artists in the world today, a singer of fantastic vocal temerity. She takes all those risks, and she has remarkable charisma when she's on stage." THE coc IS IN THE remarkable position of operating with a basically sold-out house. But future planning remains difficult. "We're at last a stable company financially and that's taken a long time. But if we are going to make commitments down the road we have to have an idea we can pay for them. We never know if the money's there, sometimes until too late. I hope the government keeps all its promises for us in the new house. But who knows?" "To fund the arts properly is nothing. We have an opera company which works at an international level - we're the only company that's been invited three times to the Edinburgh Festival, and we're being invited everywhere else. I know what I'm doing elsewhere in 2008 but I'm only partially sure what I'm doing here. We have plans, but I need some indication of what the federal government is really going to be giving us before we make final commitments. That's our greatest problem." From my conversation with Bradshaw, it's clear why the COC ranks with the most vibrant and interesting opera companies today. He is involved everywhere in the company, and willing to take ultimate responsibility for what happens, even on stage. His vision, patience and determination have already paid off with the new house, and he could even succeed where no-one ever has, and wrangle ongoing government support. He makes you feel that if anyone can pull it off, he can. SOON AFTER WE TALKED, Bradshaw e-mailed me, thrilled that they had snagged Eszter Siimegi, who sang Tosca here two seasons ago, as their Leonora. Another crisis solved. WWW, THEWHOLENOTE.COM APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2005

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