Parlando: The COC Blog

5/15/2013

Looking at Salome

By Nikita Gourski, Development Communications Officer

In 1994, Canadian film director Atom Egoyan won international recognition for his film Exotica, a provocative meditation on erotic obsession and psychological trauma explored through the relationship of a nightclub dancer and her male client.

Shortly after Exotica’s release, the Canadian Opera Company approached Egoyan with an offer to direct an opera, a story so thematically saturated with voyeurism it seemed ideal for the young filmmaker’s sensibility: Richard Strauss’s Salome.

Unveiled in 1996, Egoyan’s production simultaneously recognized the deeply disturbing matter of the opera – a work that has inflamed scandal since its 1905 world premiere – while offering a fresh reading responsive to our contemporary culture. Rather than a first-century palace in Judea, Egoyan set the action in an abstract and foreboding environment, something between a spa and a sanatorium. Derek McLane’s set design is built around a diagonal plane tilted at a dangerously steep angle, with Jochanaan (John the Baptist) imprisoned underneath the floorboards instead of the subterranean cistern in which he’s traditionally kept.

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Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in 2012/2013 / comments (0) / permalink

5/14/2013

Bel Canto At Its Best: David Alden Discusses Lucia di Lammermoor

By Suzanne Vanstone, Senior Communications Manager, Editorial

Gothic romance. Scottish wildness. Early-Victorian repression. Director David Alden showcases his riveting production of Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor at the COC this spring. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor, the opera follows a young girl’s descent into madness. Lucia is embroiled in a conflict between her brother, Enrico, and her lover, Edgardo. Barely a woman, she is treated as a mere possession, and those who should have her best interests at heart are the same culprits who gradually chip away at her fragility.

Internationally renowned director David Alden is excited about mounting this production in Toronto and directing in our opera house for the first time. “Lucia is amazing – it’s one of the very strongest pieces in the bel canto repertoire. This production is set in the early-Victorian period, where society was very strong, rigid, hierarchical and patriarchal. Obviously underneath those rigid codes and societal structures there was passion and love and madness which burst through these very strong repressions. That’s what this opera is all about.

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Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in 2012/2013 / comments (1) / permalink

5/13/2013

A Dance Towards the Light: Robert Carsen and Michael Levine Discuss Dialogues des Carmélites

By Claire Morley, Communications Assistant

Director Robert Carsen and set designer Michael Levine created their production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites for the Netherlands Opera in 1997. Since then, it has been performed in numerous cities across the world. Carrying “overwhelming emotional force” (Chicago Tribune), this is the first time their production of Carmélites will be seen in Toronto, an exciting venture for Carsen and Levine, both Toronto-born.

According to Carsen, the unique power of Dialogues des Carmélites lies in its ability to “speak to humanity in a very particular way. You don’t have to be Catholic to be moved by the sacrifice that these 16 Carmelite nuns made. It’s very powerful because of both the spiritual and intellectual quality of the work; these are people who have dedicated their whole lives to their beliefs, and achieve some kind of good through them.”

Carsen and Levine, who have worked together for over 25 years on 26 productions, began their creative process by going directly to the score, paying careful attention to both Georges Bernanos’ libretto and Poulenc’s masterful setting, which Carsen argues is in a class of its own. “The quality of Poulenc’s writing is so beautiful and very seductive. The orchestration is brilliant, consisting of strange, electrifying moments, yet the whole work has a genuine and honest sincerity to it. It’s a very unusual piece of writing.”

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Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in 2012/2013 / comments (0) / permalink

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