The COC is saddened to learn that Brian Macdonald, one of Canada’s pre-eminent theatre and opera directors, passed away over the weekend. Although Brian directed the COC’s 1991 production of La Traviata, he was best-known to COC audiences for his classic production of Madama Butterfly, first created for the COC in 1990.
As we launched this year’s season with his sixth revival of Madama Butterfly, Brian spoke with us about his production in the video clip below.
Brian Macdonald’s other opera work took him all over the world where he staged productions for Teatro all Scala, Opera Australia, and New York City Opera, among others. He is a Canadian legend.
For a more complete biography:
Posted by Canadian Opera Company / in In Tribute / comments (0) / permalink
By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager
For Episode 29, the “Oldies but Goodies” edition, we welcome back Opera Canada editor, Wayne Gooding; opera journalist Paula Citron; and, opera blogger John Gilks. Gianmarco Segato, the COC’s Adult Programs Manager is your host. This week we’re hot on the trail of the latest developments to several ongoing opera stories:
Posted by Kiersten Hay / in The Big COC Podcast / comments (1) / permalink
by Jenna Douglas
For over 30 years, students from all across Ontario have been inspired and delighted by the magic of live opera performance. The operas developed for the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour are adapted or created specifically for young audiences, and the artists perform in full costume with sets, props and piano accompaniment. The operas are performed in English and an informal question-and-answer period with the cast immediately follows each performance.
We asked pianist Jenna Douglas (also the mind behind Schmopera, the opera blog) to share a day in the life on the road with the Ensemble Studio School Tour, as they perform The Bremen Town Musicians. Read on for her account of an average day on tour, and check out the bottom of post for a video interview with the cast!
Our other touring family opera, The Scorpions' Sting: An Egyptian Myth, will be presented at the Royal Ontario Museum on November 29th at 11am, free with museum admission! Find out more about the event here.
View The Bremen Town Musicians: Performance Locations in a full screen map
We meet at the tour van outside the COC, exchanging sleepy greetings and tips of coffee cups. We pile in the van. Someone asks for some of the Halloween candy in the big bag that Mike (our stage manager) keeps for emergencies. Someone asks for hand sanitizer. A few people Google the address of the school we’re going to, and muse on the pros and cons of various routes.
Arrival at the school. A representative from the tour van jumps out to greet the school’s office staff, and to find the easiest path for lugging our equipment to the gymnasium. On good days, we’re greeted by a group of lovely students willing to help with the lugging. We begin an assembly line.
Time for show #1. The gymnasium is now filled with anywhere from 60 to 300 students, from kindergartners to sixth graders. A teacher quiets the crowd, either with a raise of an arm, a counting system, or some mini game of clapping call-and-answer. The kids hear a quick preamble about what opera is, what show we’re performing for them, and that the aisles must stay clear for the performers. This causes some stirring amongst the crowd. I get a nod from Mike, who is backstage and ready to start.
Mike, Gordon (who plays the Robber and Other Villains) and Andrew (who plays the Rooster) are backstage, prepared to flex their puppetry skills with the entrance of the mice. Without fail, the children go absolutely, positively crazy for those mice.
The entrance of the Robber. Gordon opens his bag of stolen money and pours gold coins joyfully over his head. The coins scatter on the floor in the vicinity, and the front row of children lurch forward to snag themselves a fake gold piece.
The show has just finished, and we spend a few minutes taking questions from the audience. Plenty of inquiry about the origins of the costumes and sets, and several kids want to know how long the cast has been working as opera singers. Some infrequent concern about the health of my fingers, and the odd philosophical question: “Why did the robber steal?”
Lunch decisions have been made. We notice that there have been a lot of ribs happening at school tour meals. No one is concerned. We marvel at Iain’s (who plays the Donkey) grand lunches and bother Mike for details about the afternoon’s school.
We’re fed and caffeinated, and we arrive at the second school of the day. We battle a maze of hallways and unexpected staircases as we haul our beloved set through a brand new school. Several children stop us along the way to ask us who we are and what we’re doing here. We tell them about the opera, and they seem unsatisfied.
Our second set-up is always fastest. The cast’s dressing rooms are actually gym equipment rooms, filled with childhood treasures like hula hoops, jump ropes, scooters, and tricycles. We all act like children for approximately 15 minutes.
We narrowly escape Toronto-area rush hour and arrive back at the COC. Representatives get out of the van to help Mike maneuver into a parking spot. We mention that scene in Austin Powers when Mike Myers has to do a 20-point turn in a narrow alley. We confirm the call time for tomorrow morning, cheerily wave goodbye, and remind everyone that the price of being late is a big box of Timbits for the van (we’re not kidding).
To learn more about the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour, visit coc.ca/SchoolTour
Follow the School Tour teams on Twitter with #BremenCOC and #ScorpionsCOC
Posted by Jenna Douglas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001