Opera Diary (Includes News on Daniele Leblanc; University of Toronto's Opera Division; Yves Abel; David Agler; Kathleen Broderick; Dale Harris; Daniel Taylor; Theodore Baerg)

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MONTREAL MEZZO-SOPRANO Daniele Leblanc was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held at the Met on March 17, and she performed at a Met Gala on March 31. LeBlanc is a graduate of l'Atelier Lyrique de l'Opera de Montreal and has performed several roles with O de M, including that of Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. She repeated this role in her debut performance with Opera Hamilton in November and December 1995.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S OPERA DIVISION IS CELEBRATING ITS 50th anniversary this year. A quick look down the list of graduates--Russell Braun, Norine Burgess, Sally Dibblee, Mark DuBois, John Fanning, Ben Heppner, Joanne Kolomyjec, to name only a few--shows that the program has been the starting point for many of Canada's well-known singers. The list of illustrious participants also includes the division's first director, Arnold Walter, as well as its first music director and conductor, Nicholas Goldschmidt, and the third founder of the school and long-time stage director, Herman Geiger-Torel. The Opera School's first presentation in 1946 was an evening of opera scenes, given just four months after the program began on a budget of $500. In two years, the budget grew to $10,000 for a production of The Marriage of Figaro. The Opera Division has always been committed to the presentation of Canadian premieres, such as the two it mounted in 1976: The Crucible by Robert Ward, and Richard Rodney Bennett's The Mines of Sulphur. As for the future, the Faculty of Music may hold a summer opera program and the division hopes to return to offering two major productions each year.

FRESH FROM A SUCCESSFUL DEBUT at the Paris Opera, where he led performances of Faust, Yves Abel, conductor and founder of l'Opera Francais de New York, will spend the summer in Italy at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, for performances and a film of Amahl and the Night Visitors in honor of Gian Carlo Menotti's 85th birthday. Then it's on to the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro for the new edition of Matilde di Shabran. In September, Abel makes his debut with the San Francisco Opera, opening the season conducting a new production of Thomas's Hamlet. Future engagements include a return to the Paris Opera for Faust, and a debut with the Opera de Nice for a new production of Thais, which he will then record for Decca. The future holds debuts with the Glyndebourne Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Netherlands Opera and the Opera de Monte-Carlo, as well as return engagements with the Met, the SFO and the Seattle Opera.

THIS SUMMER, DAVID AGLER, music director of the Vancouver Opera, will conduct the world premiere of a new work by Bruce Rudell, entitled Earth Prayers, for the 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver. Shortly thereafter, Agler will travel to Australia to conduct Falstaff with the Western Australian Opera Company. At the start of the fall season, he will make his debut with the Wexford Festival, conducting a new production of Sarka by the Bohemian composer Zdenko Fibich.

SOPRANO KATHLEEN BRODERICK HAS BEEN BUSY OF LATE. SHE has just spent a season in Europe, where she sang a wide variety of roles for the Staatstheater Saarbrucken and the Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern. A review in Opernwelt of her performance as Rusalka spoke enthusiastically of "her cultivated musicality, her dedication to style and the appealing timbre of her clear lyric soprano." She also debuted as Turandot for the Minnesota Opera, and then reprised the part for both Opera Omaha and Scottish Opera, where her engagement will end mid-June. Next on her schedule is her first Isolde in Mexico City, and then an appearance in Opera Hamilton's Un Ballo in Maschera in the fall.

IN BRIEF: A CONCERT FEATURING THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS three tenors--Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo--is at last scheduled for Canada on January 4, 1997 at Toronto's SkyDome. It will be their only North American appearance in a world tour. …