Friday, September 12, 2014

The Abominable Showman, September 12, 2014

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (photo by Denis Rouvre)

Opera Nation
Canadian opera companies stick to crowd-pleasing Italian masterpieces to anchor their 2014- 2015 seasons
by Richard Burnett 

The upcoming 2014-2015 opera season across Canada continues to rely on old Italian classics by such tried-and-true composers as Gaetano Donizetti and Giacomo Puccini. And the biggest buzz this season is the return of the Canadian Opera Company’s internationally-hailed double-bill of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung, directed by Robert Lepage.

Vancouver Opera’s upcoming 55th season features four productions: Georges Bizet’s Carmen, in French with English translations projected above the stage (Sept 27 – Oct 5); Stickboy, a moving new opera by world-renowned spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan and composer Neil Weisensel about the inner life of a young boy (Oct 23 – Nov 7, at the Vancouver Playhouse); Johann Strauss, Jr.’s melody-filled epic Die Fledemaus (Feb 28 – March 8, 2015); and to close the season with a bang, Stephen Sondheim’s darkly comical Sweeney Todd, starring real-life husband and wife Greer Grimsley, one of the great bass-baritones of his generation, as Sweeney Todd, and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee as Mrs. Lovett (Apr 25 – May 3, 2015). All performances (except Stickboy) are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Across the bay, for their 2014-2015 season, British Columbia’s Pacific Opera Victoria – who boast they are “the only major opera company in Canada to build its own sets exclusively” – will present three productions: Das Rheinhold by Richard Wagner, with the Victoria Symphony and starring acclaimed Canadian baritone John Fanning as Wotan, ruler of the gods (Oct 16 – 26); Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoore (based on Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor) runs Feb 12 – 22, 2015; and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (April 9 – 19, 2015).

The Edmonton Opera's 51st season includes three mainstage productions: The Barber of Seville (Oct 25 – 30), The Magic Flute (Jan 31 – Feb 5, 2015), and Lucia di Lammermoor (Apr 18 – 23, 2015).

The Opéra de Quebec presents two operas this season, Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow (Oct 18 – 25) with Le Choeur de l’Opéra de Québec and L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and the original Italian version with French supertitles of Puccini’s Tosca (May 16 – 23, 2015).
The Opera Lyra Ottawa rebounds with its 30th season with three full productions at the National Arts Centre. The season is already underway, with Puccini’s Tosca continuing until Sep 13; The Magic Flute (Oct 25 – Nov 1); and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Mar 21 – 28, 2015).
The Canadian Opera Company (or COC – love that acronym!) is the biggest opera company in the land and open their six-opera 2014-2015 season with Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff (Oct 3 to Nov 1). Rounding out the season is the company’s much-anticipated production of Madama Butterfly (Oct 10 – 31), with 12 performances alternating American sopranos Patricia Racette and Kelly Kaduce as Cio-Cio San; Mozart’s darkly witty masterpiece Don Giovanni starring internationally-acclaimed, Juno Award-winning Canadian operatic lyric baritone Russell Braun (Jan 24 – Feb 21, 2015); Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre (Jan 31 – Feb 22, 2015); Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Apr 17 to May 22); and the return of one of the most widely-celebrated productions in the history of the Canadian Opera Company, the double-bill of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung, directed by Robert Lepage (May 6 – 23, 2015).

L’Opéra de Montréal’s 35th season features four productions: Verdi’s Nabucco (Sept 20 – 27); Rossini’s Barber of Seville (Nov 8 – 15); Camille Saint-Saëns’ much-anticipated Samson and Delilah starring the internationally-acclaimed Canadian coloratura contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux singing her very first Delilah in Montreal (Jan 24 – 31, 2015); and American composer Kevin Puts’ plea for peace, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night, based on the film Joyeux Noel (May 16 – 23, 2015). Silent Night features some of Canada’s finest singers in the main roles: Marianne Fiset, Philippe Addis, Joseph Kaiser and Daniel Okulitch.

Meanwhile, over in Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Opera has not yet posted their 2014-2015 season on their website. And in Quebec, the increasingly popular Festival Opera St-Eustache just outside Montreal has yet to post their upcoming 2015 summertime season on their website.

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1 comment:

  1. Vancouver aside, Canada's opera companies commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WW1 by programming nothing written since...


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