Movies, TV & Music
Opera Canada

Opera Canada Vol. LIX, No. 4

For 50 years, Opera Canada has been the exclusive voice of opera in Canada and Canadians in opera around the world. Each issue includes insightful features on artists and performing companies, exclusive interviews, performance reviews, lively commentary and news of Canadian creators in major opera centers at home and abroad.

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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

One of the central debates in opera today is how to keep the art form relevant for an audience which no longer passively accepts the racist, misogynist and sexist tropes of yesteryear. Our last issue dealt with the challenges faced by women singers when portraying some of the standard repertoire’s iconic roles…many of which are mired in stereotypes we find unacceptable in the #MeToo era. These issues aren’t going away, so it’s no surprise to see them reappear in this edition. Before the Canadian design/director team of Andre Barbe and Renaud Doucet agreed to helm Glyndebourne’s new The Magic Flute, they wanted to feel satisfied they could deal with the work’s inherent racism and misogyny. Read about their ingeniously creative response on p. 8. Bizet’s Carmen is a wasp’s den in this…

11 min.
artists on stage

Emily Dorn In the high stress, high stakes world of opera auditions, showing up without German repertoire in front of the director of Dresden’s Semperoper would normally be the kiss of death. Not so for soprano Emily Dorn. Born in Mississauga, Ontario to a musical family, the former Emily Duncan-Brown sang with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and attended Etobicoke School of the Arts. After studies with Lucille Evans at McGill, and Ruth Falcon at Mannes, the then Florida-based Dorn landed roles in the 2011-12 season with Opera in Williamsburg (Lucy in The Telephone), Lyric Opera of Virginia (Violetta), Palm Beach Opera (Juliette) and Green Mountain Opera Festival (Norina). Her management set up an audition with Eytan Pessen, then of Dresden’s Semperoper—little did she know how potentially important it would be. After singing…

8 min.
a culinary-inspired, feminist magic flute

Barbe and Doucet may be based in Italy, but the French-Canadian design/directing duo are always on the go—their busy schedule keeps them jetting to and fro between various cities in Europe and North America. Recently, they’ve been preparing their first production for England’s premiere summer opera festival, Glyndebourne. “The idea is that we are going to make a celebration of theatre,” says stage and costume designer Andre Barbe. “We give things to the audience, and the audience decides to travel with us,” adds director and choreographer Renaud Doucet. “It’s an exchange. Sometimes the things that have the most challenge are the most interesting.” The pair has provided challenge and entertainment in vivid doses for almost two decades with their vast array of chewy, visually-striking productions. After separate starts in the worlds of theatre,…

9 min.
letter from hong kong

Hong Kong likely doesn’t leap to mind as an opera destination, but if you time your visit right, you can enjoy the things the territory is famous for—the food, the photogenic oceanside vistas, the endlessly fascinating interplay of East and West—along with a vivid program of Chinese and Western opera. There’s been a push over the last few years to promote traditional Chinese theatre to local audiences and performances are frequent. Fully staged Western opera is rarer, though still on the classical music calendar every few months. Last December, for example, Musica Viva staged Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (with Americans in the American roles and Asian artists in the Asian); in February, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) presented Wagner’s Tannhäuser; and in May, Opera Hong Kong mounted Mozart’s Don Giovanni (with…

8 min.
amazing ambur

The city is in the middle of one of its first big snow days of 2019 when I go to meet Ambur Braid at Toronto’s Soho House She’s there when I arrive, already settled in a plush armchair beneath a warm-looking sweater and a striking statement necklace; she flashes a big smile and announces, “I’m getting a cheeseburger.” Tall and stylish, often flanked by her toy poodle, Walter, Braid has a distinct air of star quality about her. But what sort of star? She possesses the conversational skills of a politician, no doubt honed at events like the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson’s 80th birthday. And she has the disarming charisma of an actor, which came in handy while getting her make-up done next to Bryan Cranston on-set of the recently-released film, The…

3 min.
divine threads

Divine Threads: The Visual and Material Culture of Cantonese Opera By April Liu in Collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology Richmond: Raincoast Books, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-77327-023-4 $60.00 Hardcover Opera is an art form that presents a multi-sensory encounter, transporting us to other times, places or cultures. This experience is often transitory, lasting only for the duration of the performance or perhaps in our memories—rarely do audiences have access to the costumes, props, and other objects related thereto. And yet, it is in such objects that the poignant traces of the performers and their makers are found. As York University theatre scholar Marlis Schweitzer tells us: “After the body has gone, the costume continues to hold something of that body within it.” It is in reading these clues that scholars are able to…