Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Article excerpt

"Although, inexplicably, governments at all levels around the world seem to continue to pull financial rugs out from under operas feet, opera itself seems to be forging ahead undaunted. Solid subscription audiences are becoming the national and international order of the day, and there is a growing public for new musical forms. Young composers and young talent are giving the lie to the concept that opera is a dying form of art. As a matter of fact, opera is stealing the headlines!"

This was written exactly 20 years and 85 issues ago by Founding Editor Ruby Mercer in her back-page Signature column for the magazine's Winter 1994 edition. She was, characteristically, in hill celebratory flight. "The list of Candians in opera in this country and throughout the world today, as well as the high quality and amount of opera production in Canada itself, are just cause for celebration," she begins; "Opera a dying form of entertainment? Certainly not in Canada," is the bottom line.

It's instructive to recall these sentiments penned two decades ago to ask how well they might reflect opera today. Certainly, the world in which Ruby was writing was radically different from our own in terms of the availability and mass distribution of opera. CDs were already the standard medium for audio, but DVDs were still to come. Neil Crory, our long-time AV reviewer, was still assessing releases on video tape and laser disc in that issue. With the exception of the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts, all the other media we take for granted today just didn't exist. YouTube, now such a rich resource for opera lovers and opera professionals alike, was still a good decade in the future.

It's true, too, that the headlines Ruby refers to were specific to the time. "Maureen Forrester christens a hall in her name" was one of them; the closing of Toronto's O'Keefe (now Sony) Centre for renovations was the subject of another, prompting Ruby to speculate optimistically that the Canadian Opera Company would at last have "a new and worthy home. …

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