Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Abominable Showman, September 9, 2012

The Opéra de Marseilles production of Trovatore coming to COC (photo credit: Chistian Dresse)

Opera Nation
Canadian opera companies stick to crowd-pleasing Italian masterpieces to anchor their 2012-2013 seasons
By Richard Burnett

The upcoming 2012-2013 opera season across Canada continues to rely on old Italian classics by such tried-and-true composers as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.

Vancouver Opera's upcoming 53rd season will include Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème (October 20 - 28), Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance (December 1 - 9), VO's First Nations-inspired production of W.A. Mozart’s The Magic Flute (March 9 - 17, 2013) and the Canadian première of Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun’s Tea: A Mirror of Soul (May 4 - 11, 2013). 

Of note, Christopher Gaze will play Major-General Stanley and Judith Forst will sing Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Christopher Gaze on The Pirates of Penzance – one of the funniest and cleverest comic operas ever written – and to present the remarkable Judith Forst in her debut as Ruth,” says VO’s general director James W. Wright.

The Opéra de Quebec presents two operas this season, Guiseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, (Oct 20 – 27), and La Vie parisienne by Jacques Offenbach (May 11 – 18, 2013). Both productions will feasture Le Chœur de l’Opéra de Québec and L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and La Vie parisienne will feature renowned tenor Marc Hervieux as Baron de Gondremarck

For its 49th season, the Edmonton Opera will present five opera productions in its 2012-2013 season, up from its usual three per year. The mainstage series will present three productions: the great Aïda (Oct 19 – 25) to honour Verdi’s 200th anniversary, and starring African-American soprano Angela Brown as Aida (Brown is one of the great singers of her generation, who wowed The New York Times with her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2004); Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman (Feb 1 – 7, 2013); and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful lyric opera Eugene Onegin, based on Pushkin’s novel (April 19 – 25, 2013). 

The Edmonton Opera will also present two operas in its ATB Canadian series, the world premiere of Shelter, its co-production with Tapestry New Opera (Nov 18 – 18); and Svadba (Wedding), composed by Montreal’s Ana Sokolovic who combines Balkan folk music with opera (Jan 12 - 19, 2013).

The Canadian Opera Company (or COC – love that acronym!) open their 2012-2013 season with Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) which is based on the play El Trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. As befits the biggest opera company in the land, this much-anticipated production should be a mind-blower, with famed Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas and acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun in role debut performances (Sept 29 to Oct 31).

The COC is also presenting six other operas this season: Die Fledermaus (Oct 4 to Nov 3), Tristan und Isolde (Jan 29 to Feb 23, 2013), La Clemenza di Tito (Feb 3 – 22, 2013), Lucia di Lammermoor (Apr 17 to May 24), the Richard Strauss opera Salomé (Apr 21 to May 22), adapted from the Oscar Wilde play; and Dialogue des Carmélites (May 8 to 25, 2013).

Meanwhile, after presenting Rigoletto (2010) and Il Trovatore (2011), L’Opéra de Montréal winds down its presentation of Verdi’s “popular trilogy” with La Traviata, which will kick off the company’s 33rd season with famed Greek diva, soprano Myrto Papatanasiu as Violetta (Sept. 15 – 22).

Other L’OdeM productions this season are Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer), from Nov 10 – 17; Die Fledermaus starring Quebec tenor Marc Hervieux (Jan 26 – 31, 2013); the Quebec première of Dead Man Walking, the true story of Sister Helen Prejean which inspired the Oscar-winning film (March 9 – 16, 2013); and, to close the season, Manon by Massenet (May 18 – 25, 2012).

For their 2012-2013 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: Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth (Oct. 4 – 14); Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring (Feb 7 – 17, 2013); and Giacomo Puccini’s powerful soap opera Tosca (Apr 4 – 14, 2013). 

The cash-strapped Opera Lyra Ottawa – which cancelled the two remaining productions of its 2011-2012 season (The Flying Dutchman and Tosca) due to a lack of financial resources – returns for its 28th season with a full production of La Bohème (Sept 8 – 15) and a concert version of La Traviata (March 21 – 23, 2013), in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre. reports that Opera Lyra’s “problems were compounded after they cancelled the [remainder of their 2011-2012] season when a bookkeeper stole thousands of dollars from the group. The bookkeeper was later sentenced to 20 months in jail for thefts from Opera Lyra, as well as the non-profit Canadian Council of Archives.”

“The company I think is through the worst of it but we’re set to bring Opera Lyra back,” Opera Lyra’s new general manager John Peter “Jeep” Jeffries said.

Meanwhile, over in Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Opera has not yet posted their 2012-2013 season on their website.

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