Browsing: Opera

Commissioned by the COC in 2013, Hadrian is composed by acclaimed Canadian-American singer, songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright, with a libretto by award-winning Canadian actor, director and playwright Daniel MacIvor, and staged by Canadian Peter Hinton. The story follows the final days of the gravely ill Roman Emperor Hadrian, consumed by grief and desperate for the truth of the mysterious drowning death of his lover Antinous. On his deathbed, he is visited by two sybils, the late Emperor Trajan and his wife Plotina. Plotina offers him two visions of the past, his first and last nights with Antinous, in exchange…

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The Canadian Opera Company opened its 2018-19 season with a new production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, originally premiered by the Metropolitan Opera. It has been 10 years since COC last staged Eugene Onegin, and the strength of this production lies in the cast and production team with a strong Canadian presence. The opera which is based on the classic Russian novel-in-verse by Alexander Pushkin tells the story of Onegin, a cynical and jaded urbanite, who rejects the love of the young Tatyana. After killing his friend Lensky, the fiancé of Tatyana’s sister Olga, in a duel that stemmed…

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The Opéra de Montréal has been reaching out to a broader audience over the last few years by staging activities for diehard fans and newcomers alike. The purpose, of course, is to get people better acquainted with this “total” art form, as Wagner once called it, and thus build a wider community of devotees. Among the activities and community initiatives devised by the company to develop awareness are Parlons opéra, préOpera, presentations in schools for the blind and hearing-impaired, and initiatives designed to promote mental health. The good news is that things are working out. Just last year, 14,494 youths…

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It happens almost everyday. Someone discovers opera for the first time through a live performance, and it becomes life changing. But it’s not everyday that this passion produces insight into the mysterious and iconic life of La Divina Maria Callas. French filmmaker Tom Volf, whose eclectic background included work as a model and photographer, was a medical student in New York in 2013 when he attended by chance a performance of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda at the Metropolitan Opera. “Joyce DiDonato was singing the lead role, and the combination of music, theatrical and cinematic elements was transformative,” he recalls. “I fell…

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Last November was hectic for Markham, ON native Andrea Núñez. The 28-year-old soprano went from competing in the Opera de Montréal’s inaugural young artist competition, Talent 2017, to jumping the very next day into the weeklong Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques. “I was running on coffee,” said Núñez, whose father is Peruvian and mother Chinese. On the stage of Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Talent 2017, Núñez sang a polished “Caro Nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Although I found her interpretation a bit straight, her legato and floating high notes were astounding and set her apart from the rest of the field. So it’s surprising…

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Opera Canada says of mezzo-soprano Simona Genga after winning the Canadian Opera Company’s 2017 Centre Stage Gala and Ensemble Studio Competition that she was reminiscent of a young Stephanie Blythe with “a vocal plushness, amplitude and range mature beyond her years.” “I was first introduced to music when I was still a baby,” Genga says. “… [My mother] used to play Baby Mozart CDs for me which I also loved listening to when I was a kid! “I grew up loving to entertain people, whether by making up stories, plays, songs or poems. After being encouraged to try various activities…

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Johannes Brahms was in a foul mood one evening while dining at the house of the pianist Ignaz Brüll, a popular host in Vienna in the 1880s. “Don’t you think it strange,” he blurted out, “that a Jew should set a text of Martin Luther’s to music?” Everyone present was meant to hear him, including the Jew in question, Brahms’s long-suffering friend and colleague, Karl (or Carl) Goldmark. While this was far from the first social occasion that Brahms spoiled with an insensitive remark, the composer’s biographer Jan Swafford deems it to be “the only time on record when Brahms…

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Born in Roncole, Italy, on Oct. 9 or 10, 1813, Verdi was named in French, Joseph François Fortunin. At that time, that part of Italy was still under French dominion. He was the son of Carlo and Luigia Verdi. Verdi’s parents owned a tavern close to Busetto in the Parma region of northern Italy. His parents were middle-class, educated Catholics. His father even bought a spinet piano for his young son, which indicates both that they were people of means and that they supported Verdi’s talent from a young age. Verdi received his main musical education as a child from the…

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PREVIEW: of a public workshop performance with orchestra of the new opera Taking Up Serpents – libretto by Jerre Dye, score by Kamala Sankaram; presented by MassOpera, Boston; Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 3 p.m.; Deane Hall at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts (527 Tremont Street, Boston); the opera is a commission of the Washington National Opera and this workshop is presented by MassOpera. In the final passages of St. Mark’s Gospel, Christ declares that a hallmark among his true believers shall be a willingness that “they shall take up serpents!” And in certain quarters…

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PREVIEW: of the new opera, PermaDeath, by Cerise Lim Jacobs and Dan Visconti, which will play Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre for three performances, September 27, 28 and 29, 2018. The theater dims. A martial blare and glistening orchestral clamor suddenly rives the murmuring darkness, and a bewildering vista of strange, vast landscape floods the stage. Two beautiful, luminous, titanic beings – the sibling gods Apollo and Artemis – are in pitched battle with the massive, earthen Niobe and her fourteen grotesque offspring. The stuff of mythic dreams? Yes. But it’s also the planned dazzler of an opening for the new…

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