Magazine article Opera Canada

Calgary

Magazine article Opera Canada

Calgary

Article excerpt

Calgary Opera has commissioned a number of new works in recent years, and in September added What Brought Us Here: A Community Opera to its roster. While previous operas (such as Allan Bell's Wink Wakes and John Estacio's Filumena) have featured local stories, this one cuts closer to the bone with the stories of three new immigrants to the city Employing a singing cast of six, the opera interweaves stories of immigrants from Iran, Bosnia and the Sudan, creating a tapestry that puts the challenges faced by immigrants centre stage. Although the performing forces are modest, it is a work of substantial proportions lasting over two hours. Performed in the intimacy of the Arrata Opera Centre, the production, directed by Onalea Gilbertson, had a strong mpact, with clear, effective dramatic values.

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Clem Martini's libretto had moments of genuine pathos and a clever treatment of the narrative structure. It's no easy task to intertwine three stories that each has enough substance for an entire opera, and so Mat Brought Us Here involves a considerable amount of narration to proceed. But mixed with the narration and recitative-like passages are many arias (songs really) and ensembles.

Composer Arthur Bachmann, a violist with the Calgary Philharmonic, is no stranger to Calgarians since a number of his works have been performed in prominent venues. This is his first opera, and while it has many attractive elements, especially the lamenting songs, his inexperience with the form did show occasionally The work is conceived in separate musical numbers, more like a musical than modern opera, and the retro idiom is founded on the sound world of Kurt Weill (especially in the accompaniment) and in songs that have a strong popular element. …

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