When producing opera we all strive for the perfect combination of a great production, an ideal cast and a great conductor. Yesterday's performance of Peter Grimes at Houston Grand Opera (HGO) was one of the rare occasions when all of these elements came together with Neil Armfield's strong production (after Billy Budd and Midsummer Night's Dream he has become a regular at the COC and we look forward to his Ariadne auf Naxos in the spring), Patrick Summer's expert conducting with the HGO Orchestra and Chorus and the cast from Anthony Dean Griffey (Peter Grimes), Katie van Kooten (Ellen Orford) and Christopher Purves (Balstrode) down to the smallest parts, all of them perfectly cast and creating intense character studies for this powerful and endlessly moving piece. I am glad the production will be seen at the COC in a few years.
I am at the airport waiting for my flight to board. In the late afternoon I will be back in Toronto.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
Hello from Houston.
Since we finished our fall season on the weekend with the last performances of Aida and Death in Venice, I went to New York yesterday for the Met debut of my old friend Ed Gardner, now the Music Director of English National Opera. When we first met eleven years ago at the Salzburg Festival he was a rehearsal pianist and I was an intern in the artistic administration. He did a great job with the Met's revival of Carmen. I would love to have him come to the COC. Working on it.
Today, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to catch my flight to Houston that allowed me to arrive in time for for the 10:00 a.m. school matinee of Madama Butterfly. This is a beautiful new production by the British director Michael Grandage which, for school purposes, had been slightly cut to a performance of two hours without intermission. It was quite amazing to see the vast auditorium of the Wortham Center filled with cheering school children. Butterfly really does work with all age groups.
This afternoon David Feheley, our Technical Director, Lee Milliken, our Production Manager and I attended the design and concept presentation for a new production of Rossini's Barber of Seville which the COC will co-produce with Houston Grand Opera.
Tomorrow, we will see Neil Armfield's new production of Peter Grimes.
I better not talk about the temperatures in Houston, but will instead post a photo of the brave members of our Ensemble Studio who just arrived in Timmins for performances of our school tour version of Cinderella, a 45-minute combined version of Rossini's La Cenerentola and Massenet's Cendrillon. Our second school tour opera, Isis and the Seven Scorpions by the COC's own Dean Burry is also on the road already.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
I went to New York for a day to attend the season opening of New York City Opera (NYCO). You may know that I was briefly involved with the company before coming to the COC. It is always good to catch up with my old colleagues and I was really happy with the great performance of A Quiet Place they pulled off yesterday night.
Leonard Bernstein's last opera wasn't well received by the U.S.critics when it was first performed at Houston Grand Opera in 1983. Yesterday's opening was the piece's first performance in New York, but also felt like the rehabilitation of an important American opera, certainly helped by Christopher Alden's brilliant production (to me, he is the most important American director of our time) and an impeccable cast that included our great Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins, conducted by the young Jayce Ogren.
NYCO has done a wonderful job with this important production of a major piece. If you happen to be in New York, the production runs until November 21.
I am at Newark Airport waiting for my flight to Toronto in order to be back for a noon Board meeting and tonight's performance of Death in Venice.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (5) / permalink
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