I'm at Pearson Airport again, this time for my first trip to China. The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing has invited me for their World Theatre Forum, a gathering of 19 organizations from 10 countries from all over the world. It will be a long short trip, a 13-hour flight and a distance of over 10,000km for a conference of three days. From Monday to Wednesday we will discuss Management and Development of Today's Opera.
The past ten days since I returned from Europe have been busy. Luminato, our annual ten-day celebration of arts and culture, took over the city with force. As always, I've had too many things to do to really indulge in the Festival, but at least I got to see the National Ballet's stunning production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the Mixed Program with choreographies by Georges Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp (watch out for her Come Fly Away at the Four Seasons Centre this summer), Necessary Angel's Andromache and Akram Khan's Confluence.
Talking about the Four Seasons Centre, I realize that I should have dedicated a blog entry to its fifth anniversary last week. I've been a lazy blogger lately. In any case, I couldn't praise our wonderful, perfect opera house enough and again and again. Because of it we've become a different company, being able to reach out to artists and realize projects that would have been unreachable and unrealizable before. Getting it built was an incredible achievement for our community and putting art on its stage that matches the high standards set by the house remains our ultimate goal. Productions like our Orfeo this past spring and, indeed, the National Ballet's Alice have set new standards for what you should expect on our stage. I'm really looking forward to our upcoming 11/12 season with more productions of the same calibre.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
It was good to be back in Paris for a couple of days. In fact, I hadn't spent a lot of time here since our departure to Canada almost three years ago. My last visit was in March 2010, when I stopped for just one night on one of my European whirlwind trips to see Rheingold, the first installment in the first ever production of Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Opéra Bastille. I didn't manage to come and see either Walküre or Siegfried, but happy to make it for the second performance of Götterdämmerung yesterday evening. Since Götterdämmerung is my favourite part of the Ring Cycle anyway that was just fine and there's really nothing like hearing it live in a big theatre like the Bastille. Recordings never quite convey the impact Wagner's music (or in fact any music) can have. The Immolation Scene really works its cathartic magic when you're envelopped by the sound of a great orchestra and feel the impact of brass and percussion in your stomach.
One of the great things about working for the Paris Opera was that we weren't just an opera company, but also a ballet company. Since the ballet was part of the family (so to speak) and I also had to hire the conductors and singers (if requires) for the ballet productions I got to see at least some performances per season. During my short visit the ballet was performing a production at the Palais Garnier, Rain by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaker to music by Steve Reich (which was performed live in the pit). Once in a while Brigitte Lefèvre, the Director of Ballet, programs a production to display the talents of the younger member of the company and this was a perfect showcase for them.
Now I'm at the airport waiting for my flight to Board. I will be back in Toronto this afternoon.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (3) / permalink
I'm writing this on the Eurostar from London to Paris, which will be the last stop on my European trip. If you're not caught in snow chaos (like me back in December) the trip from London from Paris really is extremely enjoyable, from city centre to city centre just a bit more than two and a half hours.
My weekend in London turned out to be great, mostly due to the presence of my former boss and great mentor Gerard Mortier, who is now running the Teatro Real and had flown in for the dress rehearsal of Dmitri Tcherniakov's production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at English National Opera (ENO) which we attended together yesterday evening. The night before we had dinner together. With him being in Madrid and me in Toronto we don't get to see each other very often and having the opportunity to spend time together really was very welcome. If he hadn't given me a lot of confidence and tons of professional opportunities when I was very young and still a beginner in opera I wouldn't do what I'm doing today.
Also at ENO I was lucky enough to see Terry Gilliam's new production of Berlioz' Damnation of Faust, one of the most brilliantly conceived and crafted productions I've seen in quite some time. It is hard to believe that this was Gilliam's first staging of an opera ever. The performance alone would have made my trip worthwhile.
In Paris, I will have another two busy days of meetings and performances before I come home on Thursday.
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