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Volume 8 Issue 7 - April 2003

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Left to right: Giuseppe

Left to right: Giuseppe Macina, Marshall Pynkoski, Guillermo Silva-Marin, Wayne Strongman OPERA OLD AND NEW CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 other countries but unknown in providing audiences the chance to North America. The success of hear, and singers the chance to their production of a Croatian_ sing, otherwise seldom- . opera earlier this season will lead performed repertoire. to similar explorations in the Opera Atelier's Marshall future. Pynkoski recalls that the idea of a Meanwhile, Daniel Lipton of company devoted to Baroque Opera Ontario, who has always opera was laughed at when he ti;ied to balance the familiar with tried to promote it in the early the less familiar, has had a 1980s. Now the company recent string of successes with presents the best-known works of French repertoire, otherwise the period like their upcoming neglected in Ontario, that he "The Marriage of Figaro," but plans to continue. Because of · has also mounted major revivals this, Opera Ontario has already of works by Lully and become the foremost showcase Charpentier. Other rarities, he for Quebecois opera singers says, are on tap in the future. outside Quebec. Tapestry New Opera Works, Ann Cooper-Gay, Artistic by definition dedicated to n~"X. Director of the Canadian work, also pushes the notion of Children's Opera Chorus is also opera presented in non-traditional·, pushing her company resolutely settings. "Facing South," 'forward. Not o_nly will the Tapestry's latest offering, takes CCOC present Harry Somers' place in an industrial building as dazzlingly intricate "A part of the World Stage Festival Midwinter Night's Dream" as in April. Wayne Strongman says part of the upcoming that he and producer-partner Soundstreams Musicools Claire Hopkinson have at least Festival, but the company has six more projects at hand in secured the operatic rights to one various stages of development. of the world's hottest literary He believes that in the near properties-"The Hobbit". Dean future Tapestry will be able to Burry has been commissioned to present one new work per year -- write the opera, and work is well a dream brought significantly under way. If all goes as planned, closer to reality by the company's The Hobbit will premiere next move to the Gooderham and year and then tour Atlantic . Worts complex, which will give Canada, with local children's it its first permanent home and choruses in every town swelling rehearsal studio. the hobbit ranks. Dwight Bennett of Opera Mississauga says his company's avowed goal is to pioneer a new venue for the presentation of traditional productions of the operas most popular in North America. But recently the company has extended that notion to presenting works popular in Inevitably, not all the news is good. In February this year the Toronto District School Board announced it would no longer 1 offer recreational courses as part of its Continuing Education Department. For 35 years Toronto Opera Repertoire 28 under Artistic Director Giuseppe Macina has operated under the aegis of the CED, giving professional soloists the chance to. perform major roles, and young singers the opportunity. to gain stage experience, all the while providing audiences the chance to see fully sµiged productions at a very low cost. The decision of the TDSB has jeopardized this enterprise. At present Macina and TOR chairman Dan Sherman are in active negotiation with Hart House at the University of Toronto to try to restart the TOR. Looming in all our minds as we spoke in mid­ March was the spectre of war and its consequences. As Daniel Lipton points out, "Historically, in times of war, governments withdraw their support for the arts." The irony is, as all agreed, that times of uncertainty are precisely when the arts are needed most. As Wayne Strongman says, "We need to be engaged by spectacle." But because this spectacle is on a human scale and celebrates what is human, it cannot be simply regarded as an escape. As Marshall Pynkoski emphasizes, "Opera deals with real-life issues-love,, betrayal, forgiveness. It reminds us of our humanity, of who we are. Engagement in an operatic performance lifts us out of ourselves and that experience can become a catalyst in our lives." Particularly in times of iniquity "opera shows us that people are also capable of beauty. What . could be more important than this?" Two Views As part of our expanded coverage of opera in this issue, WholeNote invited two long-time observers of the local scene to contribute their Uwughts on the state of opera here today. Built on good beginnings by Wayne Gooding Toronto's taste for opera and music theatre, it seems, is almost as old as the city itself. In her book, Look at the Record, the late Joan Parkhill Baillie tracked some of the earliest recorded performances to 1825 in the Assembly Rooms of Frank's Hotel, located near the present St. Lawrence Market. Baillie follows a surprisingly rich history of lyric theatre, including that glorious September in 1874 when two houses-the Grand Opera House and the Royal Opera House-opened within a week of each other. About a decade later came the Toronto Opera House, which, among other presentations, gave the city's opera lovers their first complete performances of Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander and Lohengrin. All three houses eventually burnt down, though the tradition of opera-going in the city continued elsewhere-from the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Massey Hall to Hart House and.the Hummingbird Centre. · Even the most cursory scan of . the performance listings for the next couple of months shows Toronto has lost none of its taste for opera, and has arguably CONTINUES ON PAGE 30 April 1 - May 7 2003

Apri I 1 - May 7 2003 www 29

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