Highlights | Discounts at North American operas, gender disparity in US opera productions

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Welcome to La Scena Musicale’s weekly Highlights, a roundup of classical music news from Canada and beyond. This week we’re recognizing World Opera Day with a showcase of several special concerts, the announcement of discounts at around 80 opera houses across North America, and a new study that finds a gendered disparity in US opera production roles.

World Opera Day is here!

Oct. 25 was World Opera Day, an annual celebration intended to raise awareness of the medium’s artistic and cultural impacts. Read on to learn how ensembles and opera companies across the world have been celebrating.

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Calgary Opera production of Everest (Photo by Trudie Lee)

Opera America has announced a program offering discounted prices for show tickets across the US and Canada (Globe and Mail). In addition to dozens of US opera houses, six Canadian companies – Opera on the Avalon, Calgary Opera, Manitoba Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, and Tapestry Opera – are offering 10 per cent discounts to subscribers and Opera America members.

A new study in the international journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion has found a gendered disparity in hiring for US opera production roles: “between 2005 and 2021, men accounted for 95% of the conducting credits, 85% of directing credits, 88% of set-designer credits, 85% of lighting-designer credits, 59% of costume-designer credits, and 70% of video/projection designer credits,” according to The Violin Channel.

Recent and Upcoming Shows

Thirteen-year-old Lucy, diagnosed with “bilateral retinoblastoma” cancer that left her blind at nine months, recently won Channel 4’s latest The Piano competition. At her Royal Albert Hall performance (Classic FM) in mid-October, she stunned the 6,000-person audience with her performance of Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1.

Critic Dawn Martens calls Southern Ontario Lyric Opera’s rendition of Madama Butterfly (Opera Canada), performed Oct. 15, beautiful and breathtaking. Critic Holly Harris also has many good things to say about Manitoba Underground’s The Corsair (Opera Canada) – though this opera has been subject to re-imaginations that “truthfully fall flat” due to historical revisionism, the ensemble’s final 2023 concert did the work justice.

Canadian musician Kevin Chen chimed in on the Israel-Hamas war, opening his Carnegie Hall concert with Israel’s national anthem to pay “tribute to the Israeli victims murdered and those who are being held hostage by Hamas,” says Israel’s account on X (formerly Twitter).

Israel Philharmonic also performed a concert to an empty theatre on Oct. 22, the lack of audience supplemented by a livestream. “What does hope sound like?” they ask in the stream’s description. “In these difficult days, when millions in Israel and around the world stand speechless, we believe that music must not be stopped.”

Also on Oct. 22, the 47-year-old Emerson String Quartet played its final concert (Forbes). The performance was filmed for inclusion in a video documentary about he quartet, which will be released in 2024.

Cellist Sheku will return to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (Stir) on Oct. 29 to showcase famous cello works dating back as far as Bach, while maintaining contemporary intrigue with compositions by the likes of Gwilym Simcock.

Club musical de Québec recently announced a concert series (Ludwig Van) that promises to celebrate the province’s many creative musicians. The first concert on Nov. 23 will begin with Clavecin en concert’s Mozart, de la joie à la tristesse, followed by a Dec. 10 performance by soprano Elisabeth St-Gelais and pianist Louise Pelletier, and capped off with a Feb. 16 show featuring collectif9.

Recordings

Bruce Liu’s upcoming album, WAVES, will be his debut with Deutsche Grammophon when it releases Nov. 3. It focuses on influential French keyboard music from the last two years, featuring compositions by Rameau, Ravel, and Alkan.

Bruce Liu posing for WAVES, on Deustche Garmmophon

Bruce Liu posing for WAVES, on Deustche Garmmophon

Awards, Appointments, and Competitions

Cinemania has announced the creation of the Colombier-Dompierre Best Music Award, which will grant the creator of the best movie music a $1,500 prize. Catch the 29th edition of this festival from Nov. 1 to 12!

Violinist Emmanuel Coppey has won the Grand prize at the Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach String Competition (The Violin Channel), worth $5,000 and accompanied by the opportunity to perform 5 concerts with ensembles like Gotham Early Music Scene and Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Youjin Lee, who won second place, will also perform with Gotham Early Music Scene.

Giuseppe (Joey) Pietraroia is the new principal conductor of the Pacific Opera Victoria (Slipped Disc). He was previously their choral conductor for around 20 years.

As part of the 2023 Ivors Classical Awards, 34 composers have been nominated for the Ivor Novello Award. Eleven winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on Nov. 14.

Local News

Montreal-based music program N’we Jinan (CBC) is helping kids in Nunavik write and record their own music.

Left to right: Marc Hervieux, Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec Director, Rafael Payare, OSM Music Director (Photo provided by the OSM)

Left to right: Marc Hervieux, Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec Director, Rafael Payare, OSM Music Director (Photo provided by the OSM)

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is partnering with the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec for a special educational program and series of concerts with students, with the help of OSM Music Director Rafael Payare.

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians under director Yannick Nézet-Séguin have signed a new contract (La Presse) promising a six per cent pay increase this year, and a 4.5 per cent increase the following two years.

Bourgie Hall has acquired a new Steinway: a model D-274 grand piano, manufactured in Hamburg. It’s “one of the most highly-regarded in the world, popular with prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and the Philharmonie de Paris,” according to a press release by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Obituary

Lily Ashfar (Slipped Disc), the first woman to obtain a PhD in classical guitar (from Florida State University), and creator of the album Hemispheres, has died at 63.

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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