The after school opera kids have been hard at work on their newest opera: The Bucket Brigade. After last term’s vaudevillian production, Clownin’ Around, the kids have taken a historically dramatic turn (pun intended) and created an opera about the War of 1812.
The setting is a turn-of-the-century school house. The place catches fire and the kids have to work together to extinguish the flame and save their teacher and a few wounded soldiers.
While the story is completely fictional, it does derive some of its plot points from historical events that happened during the attack on York (Toronto's name until 1834) in 1813, specifically the explosion of the York munitions magazine. The British blew up the magazine so that the Americans couldn’t capture it and cause even greater damage to the town. The Americans did however cause a great deal of damage, including looting the city and burning the parliament buildings.
In commemoration of the bicentennial of the war, the Ontario Heritage Trust has created an interpretive centre (full of interesting information and artifacts) on the site where the original parliament buildings once stood, on Front Street between Berkeley and Parliament. They were also kind enough to lend the kids a hand with their opera. They sent out an interpreter to each community centre to talk to the kids about the war – what it was like in York back then and about some of the heroes that fought on our side, both British and First Nations.
I walked over to the centre this morning to take a look at the beautiful red coat reproductions the Ontario Heritage Trust and our friends at Fort York have lent us for the performances.
I also spotted a few other neat things.
Remains of copper hoops from barrels of gunpowder stored at the York munitions magazine.
Tecumseth was a pretty cool guy. His confederacy allied with the British and helped with the capture of Fort Detroit. You can read more about him and General Brock at the Interpretive Centre.
I’ll be sure to post some photos of the performance!
Posted by Carly Anderson / in Opera Appreciation / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001