Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Article excerpt

A very surprising item of Canadian opera news in the weeks leading up to publication of this issue prompted me to go back and look at the inaugural number of Opera Canada, or Opera in Canada as that four-page newletter was titled in Feb./Mar. 1960. A couple of entries in that issue s "in the news" section related to Vancouver. One was notice that the stars of the forthcoming production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Vancouver International Festival, "under the leadership of Nicholas Goldschmidt, will be the Toronto soprano Teresa Stratas (formerly a member of the Canadian Opera Company and now with the Met) in the leading role of Cio-Cio-San, and the Montreal singers, Richard Verreau and Louis Quilico."

The second item noted that the "Vancouver Opera Association will give four performances of Bizet's Carmen this year, April 2,5,7, and 9, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, with Nann Merriman, Richard Cassilly and Louis Quilico in the leading roles. Irving Hofman will conduct and Irving Guttman (Montreal) will be the stage director. The Association hopes to present three more operas later in the season, but arrangements are still in the planning stages."

That Carmen was the first production of what is now just known as Vancouver Opera. The idea of presenting three more productions straightaway proved much too ambitious for the fledgling company, of course, but while Goldschmidt's Festival, the early success of which had inspired VOA's founders, died in 1968,VO has enjoyed a rich continuous history over more than half a century since. Few made-in-Canada productions have acquired legendary status in the wider opera worlds collective memory, but VO's 1963 Norma--directed by Guttman, conducted by Richard Bonynge and pairing Marilyn Home and Joan Sutherland--must surely count as one. VO set itself up as a serious player right from its outset. …

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