Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Article excerpt

IS IT JUST QUIRKY COINCIDENCE that my opera season in calendar 2007 was bookended by Calgary Opera's premiere of Frobisher by John Estacio and John Murrell in early January and Manitoba Opera's premiere of Transit of Venus by Victor Davies and Maureen Hunter in late November? It's remarkable, certainly, that there were two major Canadian premieres in one year, both mounted by Western companies and both (and this surely is quirky coincidence) about 16th-century European explorers who crisscrossed the globe in their wooden ships at about the same time. On reflection, though, I think those premieres, both shared with opera-lovers from coast to coast by CBC Radio broad-casts, are symptomatic of the current vitality of opera and music theatre in this country. This issue features an excerpt from a new biography of the distinguished singer and actor Jan Rubes, who, 40 years ago, commissioned a new opera to take on tour. "I think that any genre that is sufficiently alive to be worth producing is also worth writing new contemporary pieces for," he said at the time. "In fact, that is the only way to keep it alive." Rubes's observation is surely just as pertinent today.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It is striking that opera companies in Western Canada appear to be in the vanguard of new opera production these days. Calgary Opera, in partnership with the Banff Centre for the Arts, has created two major works: Filumena (also by Estacio and Murrell) and Frobisher. Now Calgary has embarked on its third commission, The Inventor, with music by Bramwell Tovey to a libretto by Murrell. This one has Canadian subject matter, being about Sandy Keith, nephew of the Nova Scotian brewer, Alexander Keith. It's slated for it premiere in the 2010/11 season. In the meantime, Calgary premieres Hannaraptor, a one-act opera for young audiences by Allan Gilliland and Anne Brandt, next May.

Meantime, Estacio and Murrell are working together again on Lillian Ailing, to be presented by Vancouver Opera in 2010 as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. VO General Director James Wright takes the same tack as Rubes: "New operas are extremely important for the continued vibrancy of the art form," he said in announcing the commission. "It is imperative for an opera company of the size and capability of VO to produce new work. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.