Opera Canada

Provides an educated, upscale audience with valuable information on exciting artists, recordings, and events.

Articles from Vol. 50, No. 1, Spring

Alberta
Alberta's opera companies may finish their 2008/09 seasons as though the economic downturn never happened, but planning for next season has been affected by the financial worries everyone is experiencing. Calgary Opera General Director Bob McPhee...
Alexander Dobson
Baritone Alexander Dobson was busy with rehearsals for his Calgary Opera debut--and his role debut as Harlequin in Kelly Robinson's staging of Ariadne auf Naxos--when we spoke in January. The company's premiere of the Strauss classic boasted a superb...
A Place in the World
The first editorial in this magazine, titled "Prestige and arias," appeared in its second issue--Opera in Canada, May/June 1960. It was unsigned, though from its generous and celebratory tone, I'm certain founding editor Ruby Mercer penned it. The...
Atlantic Canada
The growing popularity of opera is reflected in Atlantic Canada, primarily in Halifax, in the expanding performance roster of a couple of small, locally run companies. Since it was founded in 2003, Maritime Concert Opera has produced 17 well-attended...
Billy Budd
BENJAMIN BRITTEN Decca: 014 3256 PETER GRIMES BENJAMIN BRITTEN Decca: 014 3261 This stellar BBC television production of Billy Budd represents public broadcasting at its best. Although considered a masterpiece today, it took several...
British Columbia
Although tempered by an element of caution, the prevailing atmosphere in B.C.'s opera community is one of optimism in the face of looming economic adversity. It's all systems go for Pacific Opera Victoria's (POV) expansion to four operas next season...
Calgary
This season, Calgary Opera's Emerging Artist Development Program gave two performances of Ravel's challenging chamber opera, L'enfant et les sortileges. The December performances were mounted at the company's Arrata Opera Centre, which, since it was...
Dallas
When the curtain rose on Dallas Opera's performances of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in November, audiences were treated to the sight of Daniel Okulitch sponging his bare, well-toned chest over a washbasin. Okulitch's Figaro kept his shirt off throughout...
Die Tote Stadt: Royal Opera, ConventGarden
Korngold's Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) has, in Marietta's Song, one of the most haunting melodies in all opera. Indeed, the work is pervaded by ravishing music, brilliantly orchestrated, and sets a story about the process of grieving a lost beloved...
Eugene Onegin: Vancouver Opera
On Nov. 22, the curtain rose on only the second Eugene Onegin in Vancouver Opera's 49-year history. It was visually impressive, the warm autumnal hues of Neil Patel's set whisking the audience back to Madame Larina's 19th-century Russian country estate...
France: Paris
Parisian opera lovers will certainly not miss the "Mattress Show" Die Zauberflote when it decamps, with L'Opera National de Paris's director, to Madrid next season. It is at the top of the list of Gerard Mortier's many failures, and one can only sympathize...
Frau Margot
FRAU MARGOT Thomas Pasatieri Albany: Troy 965 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Thomas Pasatieri has 19 operas to his credit, but this Fort Worth Opera commission, premiered in 2007, was his first in almost a quartet century. In 1983, the composer...
From the Welsh Valleys to Valhalla: Toronto-Based Bass-Baritone Jason Howard Climbs One of Opera's Highest Peaks
"I never dreamt I would ever sing Wagner one day, let alone Wotan," says the Welsh-born, Toronto-based Jason Howard of one of the most daunting roles in the bass-baritone repertoire. "The offer came out of the blue. I thought long and hard before I...
Hamilton
After a year without a main-stage production, a renascent Opera Hamilton opened its 2008/09 season Oct. 30 with two performances of Mozart's Die Zauber-flote. Set in a never-never land with Egyptian and Gnostic overtones, its catchy, folk-like melodies...
In Memoriam Cornelis Opthof (1930-2008)
WITH THE PASSING OF BARITONE CORNELIS OPTHOF, the Canadian opera world lost one of its most enduring and valued stalwarts. For 50 years, he brought his special blend of beauty of tone and dramatic verisimilitude to the stage unfailingly. Opthof passed...
Jacques Lacombe
There's nothing new about Jacques Lacombe's passion for the vocal arts. A member of a boys' choir from the age of 11, he was also a regular listener with his mother to Radio-Canada's L'opera du samedi during his student years at the Conservatoire in...
Jennifer Tarver
"I started out thinking I wanted to be an opera director--and now I'm just a director." This is how Jennifer Tarver describes the path her career has taken. But the Toronto-based director, who recently staged the world premiere of James Rolfe's...
Johannes Debus
By every measure, Johannes Debus, the Canadian Opera Company's new Music Director, has enjoyed a whirlwind musical romance with the company. He was first approached in March, 2008, with the offer to conduct Prokofiev's War and Peace the following October,...
La Damnation De Faust: Metropolition Opera
French-Canadian theatrical wizard Robert Lepage and his Quebec-based company, Ex Machina, triumphed in their Metropolitan Opera debut with Hector Berlioz's "dramatic legend," La damnation de Faust. Although billed as a new production, it was a restaging...
Lucrezia Borgia: Washington National Opera
Lucrezia Borgia is a prima donna's opera if ever there was one. Despite its melodic wealth and solid construction, it's potentially poisonous (at least at the box office) if the right soprano isn't around to dole out an antidote. The Met, over a century...
Madama Butterfly: Michigan Opera Theatre
Familiarity usually breeds contempt, but not for opera fans. Carmen, La boheme and Madama Butterfly are mounted with grinding regularity, but audiences never seem to weary of these warhorses. At a well-attended matinee Nov. 16, Michigan Opera Theatre...
Montreal
Olivier Messiaen's prodigious Saint Francois d'Assise was first performed Nov. 28, 1983, in Paris, and this past December received its Canadian premiere, and second North American performance, in Montreal. Nominally an opera, the piece consists of...
New York
Strauss's Elektra offers orchestras as showy a high-impact workout as it does singers, and it's no surprise that major-league conductors regularly employ tit to flex their concert-platform muscles. Lorin Maazel joined a trio of distinguished predecessors--Artur...
Ontario
That opera has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decades in this country is nowhere more evident than in Ontario. While the Toronto-based Canadian Opera Company remains the flagship company--and, about to celebrate its diamond jubilee, the oldest--others...
Pandora's Locker: Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory
There's a relatively large literature of opera geared to children, but little written for mid-and late-teen audiences. Newfoundland-born, Toronto-based composer Dean Burry, who has made a specialty of music theatre for young people, has helped fill...
Prairie Provinces
The economic chill may be colder than a January wind whipping across the Prairies, but there's a warmer note of cautious optimism among the major Prairie opera companies. Manitoba Opera celebrated its 35th season in 2007/08 with the world premiere...
Quebec
L'Opera de Quebec continues to have great momentum after its considerable contribution to the year-long celebrations of Quebec City's 400th anniversary. The current season is on track, with the company's financial partnerships intact and its endowment...
Richard Wagner
RICHARD WAGNER Max Lorenz: Wagner's Mastersinger, Hitler's Siegfried Medici Arts: 2056928 One of my favorite recordings of Tristan und Isolde is a 1943 Berlin performance with Max Lorenz's searing but beautifully sung account of the hero....
San Francisco
In 2005, San Francisco Opera began performances for families in emulation of those at the Vienna State Opera. Compressed versions of Die Zauberflote, Il barbiere di Seviglia and L'elisir d'amore have been staged with young singers in parallel with...
Spain: Madrid
Robert Carsen created an extraordinary contrast of atmospheres in his 2005 production of Katya Kabanova on the stage of the Teatro Real last December--a wide expanse yet an intensely claustrophobic mood, based on water and wooden pallets. This sounds...
The Copenhagen Ring
THE COPENHAGEN RING Royal Danish Opera Decca: 074 3264 Recorded in May 2006, this Wagner Ring cycle was pare of Royal Danish Opera's first season in its stunning, Henning Larson-designed opera house. One of the most expensive and best-equipped...
The Grapes of Wrath
THE GRAPES OF WRATH Rickie Ian Gordon PS Classics PS-866 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Gordon is a populist composer, successful in the contemporary American songbook, music theatre and opera. This release is of his most recent opera, a setting...
Toronto
Under artistic and stage director Guillermo Silva-Marin, Toronto Operetta Theatre has the operetta genre down pat. Carl Zeller's 1891 Der Vogelhandler (The Bird Seller) was given TOT's usual energetic production with a few extra updated laughs thrown...
United Kingdom: London
English National Opera opted for the earliest, seven-scene version of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov for its new production. Given in the David Lloyd-Jones edition and translation, retaining Mussorgsky's orchestration, it is the shortest version, and the...
Vancouver
Created originally for NBC, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief delighted an appreciative audience in the intimate sanctuary of West Vancouver United Church Nov. 19th. This was the second sally into opera by MAGI, founded by mezzo Andi...
Vol 1, No. 1 Feb./Mar. 1960
When founding editor Ruby Mercer launched what was originally called Opera in Canada in Feb./Mar. 1960, the world of Canadian opera as we know it today had just started to evolve. There had been opera in Canada long before the magazine, of course,...
Vol 1, No. 2 May/June
Now a stapled, 12-page magazine in a compact 7"-by-71/2" format that went through the mail for 1c, the second issue added much detail to the first's sketch of the current Canadian opera scene, Vickers was cited again, leading off the new and long-running...
Vol 1, No. 3 Sept./Oct
The third issue (the scarcest, which we only have as a photocopy) was the first published during a Canadian Opera Company season. As a result, most of the magazine is a review of the people involved with the season's operas--Verdi's Otello, Mozart's...
Vol 1, No. 4 Nov./Dec
The final issue of 1960 is notable for its attempt at a national survey that "reveals operatic activity which few people had suspected existed in Canada." The issue identifies "two groups in Edmonton, two in Regina, three in the Maritimes, and one...
Wayne Gooding Finds an Operatic Birthday Present in a City That Already Had It All
With about 1.4 million inhabitants, Munich is not much more than half the size of Toronto in terms of population. But while Toronto is home to more opera companies and enjoys more performances than anywhere else in Canada--and ranks around fifth or...
Wendy Nielsen
Wendy Nielsen scored a major success in her debut in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos for Calgary Opera in January, with the Calgary Herald writing that she has "the vocal weight to sing over an orchestra whose part is heavily scored. This is a...
William Littler Explores the Canadian Connection in a Groundbreaking Entry in Taiwan's Opera Repertoire
If opera remains the domain of the improbable, it certainly lived up to its billing earlier this season when a 19th-century Presbyterian missionary from Oxford, Ont., turned out to be the hero of the first opera written in the Taiwanese dialect. ...
Winnipeg
Manitoba Opera brought Verdi's Il trovatore to life in all its blood-and-guts glory, opening its 2008/09 season Nov. 22 with a tale of deadly vengeance that also includes some of the most exquisite arias in the repertoire. MO last staged the opera...
Wozzeck: Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich)
Generalmusikdirektor of the Bayerische Staatsoper since 2006, Kent Nagano, better known in Canada as Music Director of I'Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, was not in fact in the pit for the company's scandal-packed and urine-soaked season-opening...