Lotfi Mansouri was the right man at the right time for the Canadian Opera Company. He was the man who made the organization a major force in Toronto’s musical life, and through his international connections he was able to bring the best singers to the city. He also deserves enormous credit for bringing opera to many more people through the use of surtitles. Finally, North American audiences could get the jokes and appreciate the nuances of the text.
These were genuine achievements and they catapulted him to the leadership of an even more important company, the San Francisco Opera.
His greatest qualities were personal. He was not an imaginative stage director but he had a love of opera and a smile and an enthusiasm that was irresistible.
In Toronto his biggest disappointment was undoubtedly not being able to take the company out of the O’Keefe Centre and into a new house. There were lots of false starts and near-misses but it never happened. It was nothing less than a disgrace. The O’Keefe Centre was totally inadequate as an opera house, particularly for the singers and the orchestra and certainly held back the development of the company. Lotfi knew it but did everything he could then moved on.
In this video done 3 years ago he talks about his early life and career.
Video Link: Here
Paul E. Robinson