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Opera Canada

Opera Canada

Summer 2021

For 60 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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MAGCAN-Opera Canada Publications
4 Issues

in this issue

10 min
jane archibald

I don’t want to say I’m passive,” Jane Archibald asserts, “but when things are out of my hands, there’s a kind of peace in that.” I’m talking with the soprano via (what else these days?) Zoom: she’s at home in Halifax, I’m at home in New York. It’s my very first Zoom interview, and I’m a bit shaky about the technical aspects, but it’s hard not to feel relaxed in Archibald’s presence, even virtually. She’s looking casually lovely, her blond hair falling gracefully onto her shoulders and catching the early-afternoon light. I compliment her on an arresting pair of drop earrings. “I’m big on big earrings,” she confesses. It’s early April, and like so many North American singers during the Covid-19 era, she’s been pretty much sidelined over the past 13…

12 min
the garden of alice

PACIFIC OPERA VICTORIA goes down the rabbit hole and comes up with a film WHEN TIMOTHY VERNON AND GLYNIS LEYSHON GOT ON THE PHONE TOGETHER LAST YEAR TO PITCH AN IDEA TO SOPRANO TRACY DAHL, “I thought they were insane,” she says. And who wouldn’t? They were asking Dahl to return to the role of a seven-year-old girl, which she had last sung in 1985, when she was 24. And they wanted her to do it on film. “Because of the nature of opera, older people will sing roles where they’re playing younger people,” says Dahl. It all depends on voice type. “If you’re a coloratura with a high, light, bright voice, you’re going to play the young woman in the opera. The older woman is the mezzo. So I was a…

3 min
we need to talk about casting…

…a topic raised in confidence, midnightcap and post-rehearsal, among singers. As with many goings-on in our niche, albeit flatteringly-lit, corner of the arts, the opera public may be a little in the dark as to how casting actually works. Here I am to explain, not complain, and highlight the savvy creative solutions already being offered by some of today’s artistic leaders. Indulge me as I paint a picture from the school of realism: a professional singer with many years of practical experience and technical study, warms up and walks into an (often subterranean) rehearsal hall to audition. There, amidst stacked chairs and risers, sit casting directors behind their laptops. Usually, they are neither singers nor pianists and have been promoted into these roles via other administrative posts. Perhaps a less-than-sexy peek…

8 min
la voix humaine and mental health

Over the past year, many of life�s pleasures have faded into memory. Visits with family and friends, embraces, unmasked smiles from strangers, travel to new places, restaurant visits, and cultural and sporting entertainment have been replaced by Zoom calls and live streamed events. Opera audiences accustomed to delighting in the unamplified voice have been forced to consume the grandiose art form on a screen. New productions have had to adhere to strict protocols by hiring small casts, using little or no orchestra or chorus, and in some cases, implementing onstage physical distancing. During these times of isolation, one may have expected companies to comfort pandemic-weary audiences with familiar works like La Bohème, The Magic Flute, or The Barber of Seville. Yet in 2020, Francis Poulenc and Jean Cocteau’s relatively obscure…

1 min
additional resources

WELLNESS TOGETHER CANADA free mental health resource available 24/7 to people in Canada and Canadians abroad THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK’S AL & MALK A GREEN ARTISTS’ HEALTH CENTRE a subsidized clinic at Toronto Western Hospital offering medical and complementary care to professional artists OVER THE BRIDGE a non-profit organization supporting mental health for Canadian musicians THE A CTORS’ FUND OF CANADA NAVIGATOR a free, personalized, confidential assistance service that connects arts workers to mental health resources THE CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HE ALTH (CAMH) THE NETWORK FOR ABORIGINAL MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE Dr. McMurren noted that many community agencies offer free walk-in, single-session support with professional therapists…

20 min
opera at home

AUDIO Der ferne Klang SCHREKER OEHMS OC 980 OPER FRANKFURT IS ARGUABLY the “right” company to produce this Der ferne Klang recording, because Austrian composer Franz Schreker (1878-1934) had a special connection with this opera house. It was here that he scored his first big success with this opera, followed by the premiere of his complete version of Die Gezeichneten, two of his most definitive works. His musical idiom is decidedly Late/Post Romantic, yet uniquely his own, beguiling in its lush and translucent tone colours. His style can also extend into an intensely expressionistic and harmonically adventurous, if unsettling, musical soundscape. At the height of his fame during the early years of the Weimar Republic, Schreker was the most performed opera composer after Richard Strauss. He was also a noted pedagogue, as director of…