Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Article excerpt

Our 'planning an opera season' feature seems well-timed given the number of 18/19 announcements that continue to flow in. For some years now the opera company PR lexicon has seized on the buzzword 'flexibility'--of venue, of scale, of musical and presentational style. For me, this trend hit home last May when I attended Opera America's conference in Dallas. American companies have enthusiastically embraced this ethos, regularly including chamber works in their seasons, mounted in their own black box theatres, or in alternative venues outside their main 'opera houses.'

In Canada, we've been less quick to jump on this bandwagon with a couple of notable exceptions. Calgary Opera just announced their first season under new General Director Keith Cerny which includes a rich variety of chestnuts, chamber works and collaborations with other local arts groups. Vancouver Opera continues to present a spring opera festival mixing full-scale and smaller works, although they have retrenched from their ambitious 2017 premiere Festival, reverting to more 'traditional' year-long programming.

It has been challenging for Canadian companies to sustain the more mixed 'Opera America' season model. Edmonton Opera was ahead of the trend in 2012/13 when it integrated the smaller-scale Canadian works Svadba and Shelter into their season--with disastrous financial results, well-documented in these pages. While in Dallas, conference attendees visited nearby Forth Worth Opera for a scenes program of new American operas presented in their attractive, purpose-built second-space--impressive infrastructure given the company only operates for a condensed spring festival season.

In contrast, the Canadian Opera Company, one of the top producers of opera in North America, still lacks a dedicated 'second space.' For now, Canadian opera lovers craving more varied, intimate experiences in non-conventional spaces must rely on the increasingly important network of 'indie' companies such as Opera 5, MYOpera and Against-the-Grain Theatre in Toronto, Cowtown Opera in Calgary and Mercury Opera in Edmonton. …

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