Nelson Community Opera

By Clark, Hilary | Opera Canada, Winter 2015 | Go to article overview

Nelson Community Opera


Clark, Hilary, Opera Canada


A kaleidoscope of opera genres greeted an enthusiastic audience in Nelson's Capitol Theatre in November for the premiere of Jorinda, the first opera by composer Douglas Jamieson, who also penned his own libretto. A confident and vigorous setting of a Brothers Grimm fairytale involving witchcraft, magic, love, intrigue and murder, the accomplished chamber orchestra, conducted by the composer, was key to bringing the multifaceted work to life.

Nelson has a long tradition in the arts. Under the aegis of the Amy Ferguson Institute, Nelson Community Opera marked 20 years of opera and music theatre at the historic Capitol with this presentation. The productions are directed and designed by Nelson artists, performed by Nelson musicians and dancers, and, most importantly, financed by local businesses and opera patrons. Any surplus revenues from the performances go to music scholarships, underwriting costs of local productions and providing honoraria to cast and crew. Three years ago, the reserve in this hand helped offset the costs of NCO's successful world premiere of KHAOS by composer Don Macdonald and playwright Nicola Harwood.

Jorinda is the tale of a Witch who has enchanted 7,000 young women and turned them into caged birds, and turned the same number of men into meat for her stew. Her favorite bird is Jorinda, who is beautiful and sings melodically. The caregiver for all the birds is a rather testy toad, Gmngella. The action begins when Jorinda escapes her cage but falls into the ocean when the moonlight breaks the spell over her. She is rescued by Jaren, who has just survived a shipwreck. Jaren falls in love with Jorinda in her earthly form, but she is destined to transform into a bird again when the moon sets or is clouded. Eventually, the toad and the Witch's henchman, Blot, recapture Jorinda. …

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