Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Abominable Showman, September 12, 2013

Measha Brueggergosman (via
Opera Nation
Canadian opera companies stick to crowd-pleasing Italian masterpieces to anchor their 2013-2014 seasons 
by Richard Burnett @bugsburnett

The upcoming 2013-2014 opera season across Canada continues to rely on old Italian classics by such tried-and-true composers as Guiseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. And the biggest buzz this season is L’Opéra de Montréal’s superstar production of George Gerhswin’s Porgy and Bess starring soprano Measha Brueggergosman.

Vancouver Opera's upcoming 54th season will include Giacomo Puccini's Tosca  (Oct 26 – Nov 3), Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, co-produced with Pacific Opera Victoria (Nov 30 to Dec 8),  Mozart’s Don Giovanni (March 1-9, 2014) and – for the first time at the Vancouver Opera in 40 years – Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo (May 3-11, 2014). All performances are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Across the bay, for their 2013-2014 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: Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi, with the Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Chorus, and starring Brian Bannatyne-Scott as Falstaff (Oct 17 – 27); Ariadne auf Naxos (music by Richard Strauss and libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal) runs Feb 13 – 23, 2014; and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (April 24 to May 4, 2014).

The Edmonton Opera's 50th season includes three mainstage productions:  Salome, Richard Strauss’ psychological thriller based on Oscar Wilde’s play (Oct 26 – 31); Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II (Feb 1 – 6, 2014);  and Tim Albery’s critically-acclaimed UK production of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly (April 5 – 10, 2014).

The Opéra de Quebec presents two operas this season, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Oct 19 – 26) with Le Chœur de l’Opéra de Québec, L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec and Yunah Lee in the title role; and Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth (May 17 – 24).

The rebounding Opera Lyra Ottawa – which cancelled two productions of its 2011-2012 season (The Flying Dutchman and Tosca) due to a lack of financial resources – returns for its 29th season with three full productions at the National Arts Centre: Carmen (which began on Sept 7 and continues to Sept 14), Pirates of Penzance, at the Arts Court Theatre (Oct 19 – 20), and – in what surely is the most-produced opera in Canada this season – Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly (April 19 – 26, 2014).

The Canadian Opera Company (or COC – love that acronym!) is the biggest opera company in the land and open their 2013-2014 season with a young cast in Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece La Bohème (Oct 3 – 30). The COC – whose Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the finest opera house in the country –  is also presenting six other operas this season: Peter Grimes (Oct 5 – 26) Così fan tutte (Jan 18 to Feb 21, 2014), Un ballo in maschera (Feb 2 – 22, 2014); Hercules (April 5 - 30, 2014), Roberto Devereux (April 25 to May 21, 2014) and Don Quichotte (May 9 – 24, 2014).

By far the biggest buzz this season is L’Opéra de Montréal’s company premiere of George Gerhswin’s Porgy and Bess starring superstar soprano Measha Brueggergosman as Bess in her company debut. According to the composer’s wishes, an all-black cast will take the stage, including the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir and soprano Marie-Josée Lord makes her return to the Opéra de Montréal. L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will be led by star British classical musician and conductor Wayne Marshall. The opera will run over four nights beginning on January 25, 2014. L’OdeM’s upcoming season – featuring five productions in all – opens on Sept 21 with a four-night run of  the Opéra de Montréal / Opera Australia co-production of Leob Delbie’s Lakmé.

Montreal will also pay homage to Guiseppe Verdi during the Verdi Bicentennial with a Falstaff production originally created for the New York City Opera and the Glimmerglass Opera, starring Italian baritone Paolo Gavanelli (four nights beginning Nov 9); l’Atelier lyrique de l’ Opéra de Montréal will present Hänsel und Gretel by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck (March 22 – 29, 2014); and Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot will run over four nights beginning on May 17, 2014. Incidentally, Turandot features Nessun Dorma, the aria sung by Calaf, the unknown prince who falls in love with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. Calaf will be played by Kamen Chanev and Princess Turandot by renowned Russian soprano Galina Shesterneva who made her Bolshoi Theatre debut as Turandot in 2012. 

There is also a fledgling Montreal opera company that I must mention, because I saw their terrific production of La Traviata in 2012. Montreal’s Opéra Immédiat presents Puccini's La Bohème at Montreal’s historic Rialto Theatre on Sept 21-22. The ticket prices are also excellent: $35 to $45. 

Meanwhile, over in Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Opera has not yet posted their 2013-2014 season on their website.

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