5 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 7 - April 2003

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Orchestra
  • Glenn
  • Gould

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~,~~~tfiO " T.O. Opet"~: BVILT ON GOOD BEGINNINGS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28 . emerged as one of the leading opera centres in North America. Through April and May you can, by my count, take in almost 20 different works mounted by locally based companies. While the Canadian Opera Company is our largest company, it is emphatically not the only game in town. There's also Opera Mississauga, Opera Ontario (though not Toronto-based, it is part of the local scene), baroque specialists Opera Atelier, Opera in Concert and Toronto Operetta Theatre, Soundstreams Canada, Tapestry New Opera Works, The Canadian Children's Opera Chorus, Autumn Leaf Performance and the newly minted Amphion Opera. All of these have something on stage over the next two months, though the roster . ofTorontq-based companies is actually longer. There's Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, for example, as well as the University of Toronto's Opera Division, which mounted the first complete performance of John Beckwith's Taptoo! early iµ March, and the opera unit of the Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould School, which mounted a version of Mozart's Die 'Zauberjlote at the end of the month. The latest productions of the city's two opera schools, encompassing classical European and contemporary Canadian works, are also symptomatic of the vitality of the local scene. There's plenty of traditional opera in upcoming performances, of course, but there's also a great deal that's new and innovative. Soundstreams Canada, for example, has organized a mini-festival of operas, aimed at young people, that come from as far away as Finland. Tapestry New Opera Works is mounting Facing South, a new opera about the explorer Robert E. Peary, as part of the Harbourfront World Stage series. Autumn Leaf is mounting Kafka. in Love in the University of Toronto's Hart House swimming pool, also as part of the World Stage program. Amphion Opera harks back to ancient Greece when it presents the premiere of a newly composed chamber opera, Cassandra. This brief survey only covers works that are formally dubbed opera, presented by companies that largely consider themselves opera companies. If you broaden the scope to other forms of music theatre, the argument that Toronto is an especially vibrant centre just becomes stronger. Why not, for example, Canadian Stage Company's production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (a written-for-Broadway musical that increasingly figures in operacompany repertoire, including, this season, Lyric Opera of Chicago)? Or the music theatre of another World Stage presentation, Broomhill Opera and Wilton's Music Hall, which will meld the vocal traditions of South Africa in a retelling of both the Chester Miracle Plays and Bizet's Carmen. Come to think of it, why not even add recitals; such as that of tenor Michael Schade at Roy Thomson Hall or the Aldeburgh Connection series, to the realm of music theatre? Under the sway of singers who are equally at home in opera, after all, the concert stage can be just as dramatic as the opera house. · ;~i~§~f~i§ff ~£~1,:7· < ... .. ;·y 1 ~ ll at 2 p rn ··. !~ 0 :r~~::::=~~a~t~~~~~!!:~~e~i=r~e~:n:~:~~~~;~n~~~~::!~~·s Jl5U~1'ft MftLLETr THEAT~J ~~~!:~£;~h~~~=~~~~~~0:.'~t:.•i, ~-~· ·366 ~17/!J/a or 1·800·708-~ l~~4' focus fc;,Z~~ ::~~~:~:~zec!~~or of Opera Canada magazine 30 www.thewholenote.cqm April 1 - May 7 2003

Two Views FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS by Iain Scott How healthy is opera in Toronto these days? Superficially, it is vigorous, vibrant and blooming. An optimist could credibly assert that the range of opportunities for audiences and the variety of viable careers for professiona1s in the field has never been more appealing. Look deeper, however, and some latent symptoms give cause for concern. · First, the good news. Both dimensions of the most important measure, audience support - ticket purchasing and donations support - are clearly on the rise. The appetite ofTorontonians for all forms of opera appears to be getting stronger every year, a trend inirrored across North America and Europe. In any market, the rise or fall of demand and supply is interrelated. In Toronto, audience. numbers, the key indicator of demand, are steadily increasing -- paralleling the increase in supply and variety of performances available. · Even more encouraging are the demographic trends revealed when the demand statistics are segmented and disaggregated. In contrast to some other art forms, the fear that opera audiences are graying appears to be unfounded. There is a healthy influx of new blood. Opera is one of the two fastest growing segments of the cultural map among 18-35 year olds - the other is museum-going - perhaps a reflection of their inherently multi-media tastes. Here in Toronto, our competitive ability to both attract and retain key talent is impressive. ·we have developed two large, engaged and committed communities, of performers and of supporters. Their interaction creates one of the most energetic and demanding creative hot spots on the continent. The elements of a positive spiral appear io be in \ place. Which other city, outside of New York, supports well over a dozen established performing companies? I believe we are well ahead of Chicago and San Francisco. Leading the pack is Richard Bradshaw's Canadian Opera Company, excited by the imminent prospect of a new performing space, confident of its ability to raise the necessary capital in a fiercely competitive fundraising environment, and acutely conscious of the challenge of adapting to the augmented scope and scale of more frequent performances. Opera Ontario, led by Ken Freeman, Opera Mississauga, led by Dwight Bennett and Marshall Pynkoski' s Opera Atelier, the three mid-sized professional performing companies, have each developed a core of support within their geographic or temporal communities. ·The first two c 0 (/) "O :::J I a; ctl .c (.) ~ 0 0 .c a... CONTINUES NEXT PAGE April 1 - May 7 2003

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