The cast of Fledermaus has arrived and we started rehearsals yesterday. Christopher Alden seems full of great ideas for this wonderful piece and having heard Tamara Wilson, Michael Schade and David Cangelosi rehearse the first-act trio today I think wonderful things are going to happen musically as well.
Trovatore will start rehearsals on Thursday and our building on Front Street will be buzzing with activity until we move into the Four Seasons Centre in mid-September.
In the meantime, I am just about to leave for a few days in Buenos Aires. It will be my first time in Argentina, my first time in the southern hemisphere I think. I look forward to discovering this part of the world, to seeing Riccardo Muti conduct at the Teatro Colon – and to hearing a lot of Argentinian singers in audition. Of course, I will post more detailed reports here in due course.
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I'm writing this on a calm Thursday morning from my hotel room in Houston. It's always nice to come here at this time of the year, even with the winter we're not having in Toronto, and it was certainly worth coming for Albina Shagimuratova's astonishing Violetta last night. The cast for Britten's Rape of Lucretia for tonight looks equally impressive with Anthony Dean Griffey, Leah Crocetto, Michelle DeYoung; Canadians Judith Forst and Joshua Hopkins; and, conductor Rory Macdonald, who had his North American debut with us in Carmen (2010). On my way south I stopped in New York on Tuesday to see Götterdämmerung at the Met, the last installment of Robert Lepage's (and Richard Wagner's) Ring Cycle, which brought me an unexpected re-encounter with one the singers that impressed me most when I just started coming to the opera, Katarina Dalayman, who was filling in as Brünnhilde for an indisposed Deborah Voigt. After having seen her perform Götterdämmerung in Aix and Paris before, it was wonderful to hear her again. I remember her early roles in Stuttgart: Mimi, Desdemona, Eva in Meistersinger and an unforgettable Marie in Wozzeck.
Meanwhile at the COC our 2012 winter season is up and running. I think we're very fortunate to have two wonderful casts of Tosca and I'm very happy to see how well L'amour de loin has been received. As most of you know by now, I was working at the Salzburg Festival for the world premiere of the piece back in 2000 and it was a very special treat to have composer Kaija Saariaho with us. In honour of her being in Toronto there was a small series of events and concerts of which I vividly recall a free noon-hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre with three of our Ensemble Studio members excelling in Saariaho's music and doing the Company very proud.
Looking forward, there is palpable excitement about our 2012/2013 season which we've announced recently while we already plan for 2015/2016 and 2016/17 in our offices on Front Street.
Soon, I will be off to hear the young artists of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and meet with my delightful colleagues Laura Canning, Diane Zola and the new HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. HGO has been an important partner of the COC in past seasons and I look forward to talking about upcoming and new projects.
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Time has been running since my return from Santa Fe more than a month ago. We have rehearsed our two fall productions and opened the first of them, Gluck's marvelous Iphigénie en Tauride, last Thursday.
Even though I've been doing it for ten years now opening a new season always feels very special to me. Having our audience back in the house and see them cheer our artists like they did on Thursday really gives all the sense to what we're doing. I was happy to have Robert Carsen back with another Gluck opera after Orfeo last spring and see his work being acknowledged so warmly in his hometown and, also, to welcome my old friend Susan Graham to our stage. Sitting there at opening night I couldn't stop myself from being proud of how wonderfully a great singer's voice showcases our magnificent hall.
On our free day between the opening of Iphigénie and today's piano dress rehearsal of Rigoletto I took my two conductors, Johannes Debus and Pablo Heras-Casado, to New York for a performance of Lully's Atys at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this groundbreaking production that started the renaissance of French baroque opera in the late 1980s so masterfully performed by William Christie and Les Arts Florissants.
In the meantime we've also fallen into city budget purgatory and it looks as if this will continue until November, at least. As a company that needs to program four to five years ahead in order to keep up with our international peers we deeply rely on a reliable funding horizon. We would be a very different company without the support we receive from three levels of government and I truly hope that we will find a way to work with the city that addresses budget constraints while maintaining a sustainable environment for the arts.
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