Parlando: The COC Blog


Getting Out of Toronto: The Buxton Festival

[This is a guest post by Gianmarco Segato, our retail and editorial co-ordinator, who recently visited the Buxton Festival in England. You may recognize his name from our podcast series!]

I’ve long been curious about the enticing, off-the-beaten-track operatic offerings at England’s 32-year-old Buxton Festival, and so this July, I made the trek across the pond and spent three days in this charming town, smack dab in the middle of picture-postcard perfect Derbyshire.

Buxton itself has a long history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. It calls itself “the gateway to the Peaks District” and is surrounded by rolling hills and public footpaths which lead to breathtaking views (see photo above) directly accessible from the town centre. The 902-seat Buxton Opera House was built in 1903 by Frank Matcham, one of Britain's finest theatre architects. He also designed two famous London theatres: the London Palladium (1910) and the London Coliseum (1904 – home of the English National Opera). The interior is charming with beautifully restored gilded stucco ornaments and most importantly, a bar on every level! Front-of-house is mainly run by volunteers, who also act as bar staff. If you haven’t finished your drink by the end of the intermission, they gladly provide you with a plastic cup to take your G & T into the theatre with you. The theatre’s acoustics are very clear – perhaps a little less resonant than we’re used to at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. 


Posted by Gianmarco Segato / in Opera Appreciation / comments (1) / permalink


Susan Graham: A Shimmering Voice


[This interview by Joseph So originally appeared at La Scena Musicale. With the permission of the author, we are republishing a portion of it here]

To those of us who love opera and are followers of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Met Auditions for short – 1988 was a vintage year. All eleven finalists enjoyed respectable careers, with four of them reaching "authentic star" status – sopranos Renée Fleming and Patricia Racette, mezzo Susan Graham, and of course Canada's own Ben Heppner. Now 23 years later, these four artists continue to thrill audiences at important houses around the world. New Mexico-born, Texas-raised mezzo Susan Graham has become a particularly beloved artist, praised for her shimmering high mezzo and dramatic intensity. Toronto opera audiences are eagerly anticipating her Canadian opera debut, in the title role of Iphigenia in Tauris for the Canadian Opera Company. The Robert Carsen production, so far seen at the Chicago Lyric, San Francisco, Covent Garden and Teatro Real in Madrid the last few seasons, received uniform praise for its ability to cut through the trappings of grand opera and tap into the emotional core of Gluck's masterpiece. Last month I had a phone conversation with Susan Graham, who was enjoying some downtime at home in Santa Fe, NM. In between bites of lunch, Graham patiently answered my barrage of questions:

LSM: Your fans are looking forward to your return to Toronto. I think we last heard you in a recital at Roy Thomson Hall 10 years ago, in a program of mostly Ned Rorem songs if I remember correctly. Was that the last time you sang in Toronto?
SG: That was a few years ago! Wait – didn't I sing Les nuits d'ete with the Symphony? I don't remember which came first...

LSM: Have you sung elsewhere in Canada?
SG: Yes, I sing in Montreal quite often – in fact I'll be there August 7 at the Lanaudiere Festival. I've also sung in Quebec City and Edmonton.

LSM: And now we get to hear you in opera! Let's talk at little bit about Iphigenia – it seems to be your most frequently performed role, is that correct?
SG: It's certainly true the past few years, largely because of this wonderful production by Robert Carsen. We've done in in many places. It's a fantastic production that audiences love.

LSM: But you'll have different colleagues in Toronto...
SG: Yes, Russell Braun and Joseph Kaiser. I love those guys, it's going to be fantastic!

Read the full interview at La Scena Musicale.

Photo: Susan Graham in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Iphigenia in Tauris, 2006. Photo © Robert Kusel

Posted by Joseph So / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink


Today's Links, August 22

  • Leslie Barcza at barczablog interviews soprano Simone Osborne (pictured above), a member of the Ensemble Studio who will be debuting the role of Gilda with us this fall. She talks about the challenges the role of Gilda presents:

    "The music for Gilda is extremely challenging in itself but trying to create a believable, multi dimensional, significant character is an equally difficult task. I refuse to believe that Gilda is simply a love stricken ingénue. Luckily for me (and the COC audiences), the incredible stage director, Christopher Alden, will be leading the way for us and I am very much looking forward to creating my first Gilda with him. In terms of the vocal writing, the role sits relatively high and in certain sections the orchestration is very thick. As a young singer, there is a tendency to want to prove yourself and put your best foot forward. This role will be an exercise is singing smart and not allowing the energy and excitement from the pit overwhelm my good judgement!" [read the full interview]
  • Alexander Neef wound up his summer travel season at Santa Fe with performances of Faust, Wozzeck, and Vivaldi's Griselda. Catch up on his two most recent blog posts here and here.

  • The Guardian's How to Enjoy Opera series includes an article on surviving your first opera as well as Fiona Maddocks' list of opera's top 50 works.

  • You might enjoy this story of a granddaughter's tribute in ink to her opera-loving grandmother. Part I, Part II, Part III

  • Photo of Simone Osborne © Kevin Clark Photography

Posted by Cecily Carver / in Daily Links / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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