This morning I realized that it has been more than 10 days since I have put a new post on the blog. There isn't really an excuse, but these past days have been even more intense than usual.
Right after my return from London—on 1st October, exactly one year after my arrival at the COC—we held a big press conference in our wonderful big rehearsal space as a preview to our new production of Stravinsky's The Nightingale and Other Short Fables staged by Robert Lepage.
It is the first time that Robert is coming back to the COC since the double bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung in 1993 and you can imagine that everybody here is very excited. Not only is he one of the most brilliant directors I have ever worked with, he also is a strong candidate for the kindest, calmest and best organized. It is such a pleasure to have him and his team with us. In the meantime the production has moved to the Four Seasons Centre, we have done one week of rehearsals on stage and only have two more rehearsals with the orchestra left before the opening on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Festival in Aix-en Provence and the Opera de Lyon are our partners, but we have the honour of doing the world premiere and so far we are the only producer in North America.
Once more we will prove with this production that we are the most innovative producer of opera on this side of the Atlantic. It is going to be stunning.
Besides our busy rehearsal schedule the rest of my time was taken by the preparation for the inauguration of the Herman Geiger Torel Lectures at the Faculty of Music on Thursday, Oct. 8. It was a great honour to be asked to be the first speaker in this new lecture series, named after one of the founders of the COC. It was also my biggest speaking assignment since I have started working with the COC.
A few days of frantic speech-writing led to what I think was an interesting speech that inspired a lot of comments and a lively and passionate discussion with the audience. It is so good to see how passionate people here feel about culture in general and opera in particular. If I could be granted a single wish, though, I would ask that we start thinking in terms of good and bad productions rather than traditional versus conceptional. There is so much good and bad on both sides!!!
In the middle of all this we were very fortunate to welcome two illustrious visitors. The first is Evamaria Wieser, the Artistic Administrator of the Salzburg Festival, who first of all is a very dear family friend, but also the person who took me on as her assistant eight years ago and taught me everything about the business of opera. She was most impressed with our wonderful facilities, the offices as well as the opera house, and our excellent chorus and orchestra when she attended the performance of Madama Butterfly last Thursday. Also, she was completely blown away by the rehearsals of The Nightingale which she attended on Wednesday.
The second visitor is the great soprano Catherine Malfitano who is here until the end of next week to teach the members of our Ensemble Studio. Her lessons have been received with a lot of enthusiasm and we would love to have her back (if we can find a sponsor!). A few years ago Catherine started working as a director and has done some very interesting work. I am pleased that we have started working on a project together.
Last, but not least: last night I happened to be at the opera house for the performance of Madama Butterfly and I just have to tell you that Yannick-Muriel Noah seems to surpass herself with each of her performances. It is wonderful to see that a former member of our Ensemble Studio has become such a compelling artist and performer.
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