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Opera Canada

Opera Canada Vol. LVII, 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.

MAGCAN-Opera Canada Publications
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$4.15(Incl. tax)
$31.45(Incl. tax)
4 Issues


3 min.

There’s a birthday bias to this issue since we decided to devote our entire feature section to the new Canadian Opera Company/National Arts Centre production of Louis Riel. The opera was originally produced as part of the celebrations around the 1967 centennial of Confederation, but this new staging marks both Confederation’s sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of the opera itself. It’s still generally thought of as “modern” or “contemporary” music, though after half a century, neither label is very apt. Louis Riel holds an honoured but somewhat ambiguous place in Canadian opera history. As Linda and Michael Hutcheon note in their exploration of the opera’s politics (p. 18), the history of a leader hanged for treason might seem a decidedly odd choice of subject for a national celebration of unity—and especially…

7 min.
opera in the news

HONOURS AND AWARDS Soprano Kirsten MacKinnon was one of the six winners of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A recipient of a 2016 George London Award, the Vancouver native graduated as an Alfred Greenberg Memorial Fellow from the Curtis Institute of Music last year. I n a burgeoning inter national career, MacKinnon was heard recently as Pamina in the Canadian Opera Company’s Jan./Feb. production of Die Zauberflöte and has upcoming assignments with Opera Philadelphia, Glyndebourne Festival, Garsington Opera and Opera Frankfurt. Winnipeg native Lara Secord- Haid was winner of the 2017 George London Award for a Canadian Singer, one of the five US$10,000 top prizes. With a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music from The New England Conservatory of Music, she returns to her…

6 min.
letter from vienna

Like the Magi of old in search of a distant promise, I, too, followed the stars. Not those twinkling in the night sky, mind you, but the man-made pentagrams encased in sidewalk cement along Vienna’s Linke Wienzeile:⋆ Otto Klemperer⋆ ⋆Erich Korngold ⋆ Ernst Krenek ⋆ Antonio Salieri ⋆ Claudio Monteverdi ⋆ Jacques Offenbach ⋆ Antonin Dvo?rá ⋆ Joseph Lanner ⋆ Albert Lortzing ⋆ Leonard Bernstein ⋆ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ⋆ Emanuel Schikaneder ⋆ Ludwig van Beethoven Following these stars along the Musik Meile Wien, the Austrian capital’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, I arrived at my goal, the Theater an der Wien, first on New Year’s Eve 2011 for Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, then again in March 2016 for Robert Carsen’s take on Handel’s Agrippina. My latest visit came this past New…

7 min.
letter from aix-en-provence

From its very beginnings in 1948, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence was an upstart venture, a “Yes, we can” response to the trauma of the post-war in a country where food was still rationed and the future uncertain. As one of the founding members of the festival, writer Edmonde Charles-Roux, recalls: “The inaugural summer was a sort of improvised party between friends endeavouring to forget the sufferings of the war.” For her, the fact that Austrian conductor Hans Rosbaud became the first Music Director and brought his 70-member Südwestrundfunks Symphonie with him was an “act of peace.” The 2016 festival was the first at which Charles-Roux was not in her usual seat. The 96-year-old had died earlier in the year. But the principles of tolerance and peace she embodied are still an inspiration…

16 min.
artists on stage

It took about 10 years due to the vagaries of opera funding, but Aaron Gervais’s first full-length opera finally has its world premiere this spring. He met librettist Colleen Murphy in one of Toronto-based Tapestry Opera’s LibLab collaborations and immediately knew they wanted to work together on a story of a woman caught in a web of international sex trafficking. Fast forward through workshopping, fundraising, planning, a change of leadership at Tapestry and a casting change or two, and Oksana G, scored for an orchestra of 18, three principal singers and a dozen secondary roles, will bring Tapestry’s season to a resounding close in May. From early days Gervais developed an “in-depth dramaturgic back-and-forth” with Murphy that made it easier for him to understand the characters and write them in music.…

16 min.
identity crisis

Imagine being an opera-lover living in late 19th-century Europe. In the newly formed nations of Italy and Germany, in particular, opera has taken on national(istic) importance. This is not only because its stories can parallel local national politics (often repressed), but also because the powerful immediacy of opera’s music both evokes and even provokes (and not only represents) nationalist feeling. Think of “Va pensiero,” the chorus of the oppressed Israelites from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco that is Italy’s unofficial national anthem still today. Now, imagine you are living in Canada in 1967 and the opera by Harry Somers and Mavor Moore called Louis Riel has just premiered at the Canadian Opera Company. The librettist has also stated that the goal in writing the opera was to “use the conventions and traditions of Grand Opera…