7 years ago

Volume 16 Issue 7 - April 2011

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STUART HAMILTON continued from page 14quiz.” When I would go across the country doing master classes atvarious universities, people would always come up to me and tell mehow they always learned so much and found it so much fun.Were you surprised when the quiz was cancelled? I was shocked.I knew something was going on, but no-one had said anything tome. So in the fall of 2007 the program started, but nobody hadcontacted me about it. After acouple of weekends I got a callfrom the interim producer. Hesaid, “Hi Stuart, how are you?”are you?” He said, “You’reas much because the programhas been on – and I’m not on it.”So he apologized for not callingme sooner, and explained thathe had been trying to save hisown job – which didn’t happen,Right from the start the repertoirefor Opera in Concert wasremarkably adventurous – how did you choose it? It was partly myown taste, of course. But also I knew what singers were availableand what roles would be good for them. That was the essential thingabout Opera in Concert – it highlighted the singers in roles that Iknew would show them to good advantage.But didn’t it also give you an opportunity to highlight composersyou particularly loved, like Massenet, who was quite overlooked atthat time? I remember once being on the Metropolitan Opera broadcastin New York when they were talking about Massenet, and I saidwe had done thirteen Massenet operas. They were just astonished.And Hamlet by Thomas – you did that when it hadn’t been doneanywhere in North America for ages. Yet it had been one of the mostpopular operas in the 19th century. It was, and it still works reallyStuart Hamilton with Jon Vickers: SaturdayAfternoon at the Opera (CBC 1996).The WholeNote Marketplacejust French opera we produced. We also did a lot of Italian, andsome German in the twenty years I produced Opera in Concert.Since then Bill (Guillermo Silva-Marin) has done a wonderful job.You said on air many times that Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisandeis your favourite opera. On the quiz I would get letters from agentleman in Vancouver who absolutely hated my enthusiasm forPelléas. He would write, “How can you put up with this tunelessgarbage?” So we had a veryamusing back and forth aboutthat for a long time.Yet the production we had herein Toronto certainly made it hardto love. production at the old O’KeefeI just couldn’t believe my eyeswhen I saw that awful set andthose ridiculous costumes.They’re not trusting thematerial when they do that.Andit wasn’t any better when theydid it in the new house.Even though the singingwas so good? And the operawork. But that didn’t help. I bet nobody would want to go back tosee that production again. Yet it is one of the most powerful operas.It’s interesting because you put on operas without elaboratecostumes or scenery, and they were successful. True – it’s the actualvoice that really counts, not just the look.For more of this interview (including additional photographs andHamilton’s views on Rossini, Canadian opera directors, the Mariinsky’supcoming My Fair Lady, and memoirs – including his own – Pamela Margles is a Toronto-based journalist who writesThe WholeNote’s monthly “Book Shelf” column.Comprehensive · . ResidentialSoundproo?ng Solutions April 1 - May 7, 2011 59leon 416-995-4016

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