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HADRIAN

Rufus Wainwright with libretto by Daniel MacIvor
To

WORLD PREMIERE

Emperor Hadrian is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on his grief, and advisors clamour for war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.

This highly anticipated world premiere from composer Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor features the company debuts of opera legends Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila, and is presented by the same creative team behind the COC’s 2017 production of Louis Riel.

Content advisoryHadrian contains partial nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Should you have questions or require more details, we invite you to contact our team at 416-363-8231 or 1-800-250-4653.  



Connect with us on social by using #COCHadrian | @CanadianOpera

UNDER 30? Get your $22 tickets here.


Details

On stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., Toronto.

Performance time is approximately three hours, including one intermission.



Sung in English and Latin with English SURTITLESTM


Cast and CREATIVE TEAMS
Hadrian Thomas Hampson
Plotina Karita Mattila
Antinous Isaiah Bell
Sabina Ambur Braid
Dinarchus Ben Heppner
Turbo David Leigh

Conductor Johannes Debus
Director Peter Hinton
Set Designer Michael Gianfrancesco
Costume Designer Gillian Gallow
Lighting Designer Bonnie Beecher
Choreographer Denise Clarke
Projection Designer Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy
Intimacy Coach Siobhan Richardson
Dramaturg Cori Ellison
Price Family Chorus Master* Sandra Horst
Fight Director James Binkley

*Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price

Production generously underwritten by
COLLEEN SEXSMITH
PAUL BERNARDS

With additional major support from
MARK & GAIL APPEL
VIRGINIA ATKIN & KEITH AMBACHTSHEER
JUSTIN S. LINDEN
PETER M. PARTRIDGE
JAY SMITH & LAURA RAPP
RIKI TUROFSKY & CHARLES PETERSEN

With the COC Orchestra and Chorus

Synopsis

SYNOPSIS IN A MINUTE

Emperor Hadrian is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on hisgrief,and advisorsclamourfor war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.


FULL SYNOPSIS


Spoiler Alert: This synopsis reveals key plot elements.

ACT I

The last night of Hadrian’s life. In Tibur, outside Rome.

Hadrian is gravely ill and grieving the death of his lover Antinous. After a year of preparations, Antinous’ body is to be entombed. Hadrian’s entourage feels Hadrian will die tonight, from either sickness or sadness.

Hadrian is visited by two deities only he can see: Emperor Trajan and his wife Plotina. Trajan, like a father to him, is here to comfort Hadrian. Plotina, having secured Hadrian the throne, is on a mission. Hadrian only wants to know the truth of what happened to Antinous.

Convinced he is mad with grief, Hadrian orders his physician Hermogenes to kill him. Turbo, his long-time friend and head of his military, tries to reason with Hadrian. Hermogenes’ loyalty to his Emperor brings him to kill himself.

Plotina and Trajan return. Plotina begins her campaign.

Turbo addresses affairs of state: enemies of the status quo rise in power. This is of no concern to Hadrian; he’s busy memorializing Antinous. Knowing that time is short, Plotina strikes a deal: two nights with Antinous and the truth if Hadrian signs a document that would destroy those who would destroy them. Hadrian agrees.

ACT II

Seven years earlier, in Greece.

Plotina leads Hadrian through the night he met Antinous: the feast of Robigalia, celebrated tonight to honour Hadrian’s tour of the Empire. Guests sing Hadrian’s praises. We meet Hadrian’s wife Sabina. Her sadness reveals itself: her husband has no heart for her.

Present is Antinous, who was magnificent in the hunt today, killing a boar that was charging the Emperor. Preparations begin for a ceremonial sacrifice. Hadrian insists Turbo bring forward the hero of the hunt; Turbo is reluctant, concerned about the Emperor’s tastes.

Hadrian longs to take Antinous in his arms, but knows the night must play out just as it did. We see their attraction is deep and true.

For Hadrian’s amusement, a Sibyl has been procured. She predicts that Antinous will “sacrifice” and become a “saviour.” Hadrian turns his attention back to the celebration.

A sacrifice is brought to the altar, small groups form. Hadrian and Antinous have found their destiny. Turbo and Sabina have found a common enemy in Antinous. The entourage considers political implications. The people gossip.

Plotina reveals herself to us: she had been the Sibyl.


INTERMISSION

ACT III

Egypt. A barge on the Nile.

In a world between worlds, Hadrian and Antinous’ love expresses itself as all consuming.

It is six years since the night Hadrian and Antinous met. Over time Antinous has shown himself to be a wise and gentle man. Hadrian recognizes this night as the night Antinous died.

Unable to escape his real-world illness, and facing the worst night of his life, Hadrian begs Plotina to change the rules. She refuses.

The entourage, sick of life on the road, amuse themselves with drinking games. When Antinous appears we see that he has captured their hearts. Antinous has a peaceable approach to the Jews and Nazarenes. Turbo sees this as supporting the power of monotheism. He worries that Hadrian is too influenced by Antinous.

Sabina is tormented by her husband’s love for Antinous. She and Turbo speak of a plan: a deception is to be undertaken by a Sybil. Sabina is unsure, Turbo is determined.

The bedchamber. Antinous cares for Hadrian. A Sybil comes to help with Hadrian’s illness. She declares that Hadrian’s recovery requires a sacrifice.

Hadrian briefly steps into the world between. He sees that the Sibyl is Sabina. Back in the fever dream of the past Antinous cares for Hadrian tenderly. Sabina witnesses Hadrian’s love for Antinous. Her husband has a heart. She is moved.

On deck we see that Antinous trusts the Sibyl’s words. He is about to sacrifice himself. Sabina rushes in to end the game. Turbo shows himself and has Sabina taken away. Alone with Antinous, Turbo admits the deception then kills Antinous, delivering his body to the Nile.

ACT IV

Tibur, outside Rome. Hadrian’s last moments.

Back in the real world. Hadrian, now more broken than he was, makes a show of signing the document, thus ending Judea. Plotina is elated, monotheism will die. She will live eternal.

Turbo is delighted, Hadrian is himself again, the Empire will thrive. Hadrian explains this document will see the Empire fall. Then he tells Turbo what he knows: Turbo killed Antinous. Turbo admits it with no remorse. Hadrian moves to stab Turbo in the heart, but stops, he asks “Why?”

Turbo explains he was protecting the legacy of his friend and Emperor. Hadrian disdains all material concerns naming his own legacy in his final words, “He loved.” In this moment Turbo sees the truth. Hadrian dies.

All deities present lead Hadrian into death. Hadrian and Antinous are reunited. The gods ponder their future as a dark chorus of unrest gathers. A time has ended. A time has begun.

~ Daniel MacIvor, librettist

GALLERY




Production photos from Canadian Opera Company's production of Hadrian, 2018. All photos: Michael Cooper.
Read

New York Times | Rufus Wainwright’s First Opera Was ‘a Nightmare.’ He’s Trying Again

Rufus Wainwright’s eyes filled with tears. He stood quietly, one hand marking time, as the rich voice of the baritone Thomas Hampson filled a rehearsal room looking out onto snow-capped mountain peaks here.

READ MORE

Toronto Star | ‘There were tears’: The battle to bring Hadrian to the Canadian Opera Company stage

With days to go before the world premiere of his first opera, Daniel MacIvor says he is experiencing the sublime: “full of dread and giddy at the same time.”

READ MORE

TheWholeNote | Daring to Walk the Walk: The COC’s Hadrian

It hasn’t opened yet. We don’t know what awaits us. But the Canadian Opera Company’s bet on Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian can’t lose. Oh, it can be a failure, for reasons I’ll explain below. But failure doesn’t mean failure. The very fact that Hadrian is opening as scheduled is a small triumph. 

READ MORE

The Loop | Five things you need to know about ‘Hadrian

It’s been at least five years since I first read that Rufus Wainwright was planning on mounting an opera about Hadrian. But it’s been some 20 years since the singer and songwriter suspected the Roman emperor’s story “would make a great operatic subject.”

READ MORE

Becoming Antinous

Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell gives us an unprecedented look – recorded in real time, over four weeks – at what it takes to get ready for a world premiere.

READ MORE

Dramatically Roman: The Costumes of Hadrian

“They’re definitely Roman-inspired,” says award-winning Canadian designer Gillian Gallow of the costumes she has conceived for Hadrian, the new opera by Rufus Wainwright. “But there is also an extremely theatrical and modern perspective to it.”

READ MORE

Watch

"Will you have Egypt with me?" | Ambur Braid, October 2018

An excerpt from Sabina's Act II aria, "Will you have Egypt with me?" performed by soprano Ambur Braid.



Act III Excerpt | Thomas Hampson & Isaiah Bell, October 2018


An excerpt from Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor's HADRIAN. This scene from Act III of the opera features Hadrian (Thomas Hampson) and Antinous (Isaiah Bell).



Plotina's aria | Karita Mattila, October 2018


An excerpt from Plotina's Act I aria, performed by soprano Karita Mattila.



Behind the Scenes, September 2018


Take an intimate behind-the-scenes look at rehearsals for Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor's Hadrian.



The History of HADRIAN, October 2018


In part one, we chat with author and historian Anthony Majanlahti about the life of Roman Emperor Hadrian.



ENTR'ACTE from Behind the Season, March 2018

Maestro Johannes Debus conducts this excerpt, called "Entr'acte" ("Between the Acts"), and offers his play-by-play in written annotations. The magnificent COC Orchestra performs.



BUZZ

“a gay love story that speaks to our time.” New York Times

“It was a truly grand spectacle, with stunning visuals from the set, costumes, video projections, and positioning of cast, chorus and five male dancers.” Toronto Star

“whole stretches of Mr. Wainwright’s music are beguiling, inventive and unabashedly romantic.” New York Times

 “The orchestra bubbles with eclectic sounds and stunning, pared-down moments of chamber music. The score makes nods to Satie, Debussy, Puccini and Mahler… There’s a fun sextet that feels like a modern version of the sexy Carmen quintet.” Globe and Mail

“★★★★★… What Hadrian will be remembered for – be it the lush orchestral music, the stellar singing, the captivating plot of love, jealousy and political power struggle, or the explicit love-making scenes – only time will tell. Judging by the audience’s reaction, two recurring lines in the libretto aptly sum things up: “I remember this night” and “We will never be forgotten.” Hadrian’s world premiere is a night to remember, and the opera is not soon to be forgotten.” La Scena Musicale

“there are veritable moments, and just enough of them, of operatic alchemy in Hadrian—where the text and music seem to be made for each other.” Opera Canada

“With Hadrian, the COC has been methodical and intelligent, pairing Wainwright with librettist Daniel MacIvor to turn this chapter of ancient Roman history into a viable gay-themed opera, and enlisting superstars Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila to lead the cast.” CBC Music

“A major draw…the COC rounds up a fascinating cast of big names and rising stars.” The Globe and Mail

Hadrian dominates Canadian Opera Company’s 2018-19 season.” Toronto Star

“Its world premiere on Oct. 13 will no doubt be one of the more closely watched events of the season.” Opera Canada

  • On stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., Toronto.

    Performance time is approximately three hours, including one intermission.



    Sung in English and Latin with English SURTITLESTM


    Cast and CREATIVE TEAMS
    Hadrian Thomas Hampson
    Plotina Karita Mattila
    Antinous Isaiah Bell
    Sabina Ambur Braid
    Dinarchus Ben Heppner
    Turbo David Leigh

    Conductor Johannes Debus
    Director Peter Hinton
    Set Designer Michael Gianfrancesco
    Costume Designer Gillian Gallow
    Lighting Designer Bonnie Beecher
    Choreographer Denise Clarke
    Projection Designer Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy
    Intimacy Coach Siobhan Richardson
    Dramaturg Cori Ellison
    Price Family Chorus Master* Sandra Horst
    Fight Director James Binkley

    *Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price

    Production generously underwritten by
    COLLEEN SEXSMITH
    PAUL BERNARDS

    With additional major support from
    MARK & GAIL APPEL
    VIRGINIA ATKIN & KEITH AMBACHTSHEER
    JUSTIN S. LINDEN
    PETER M. PARTRIDGE
    JAY SMITH & LAURA RAPP
    RIKI TUROFSKY & CHARLES PETERSEN

    With the COC Orchestra and Chorus

  • SYNOPSIS IN A MINUTE

    Emperor Hadrian is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on hisgrief,and advisorsclamourfor war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.


    FULL SYNOPSIS


    Spoiler Alert: This synopsis reveals key plot elements.

    ACT I

    The last night of Hadrian’s life. In Tibur, outside Rome.

    Hadrian is gravely ill and grieving the death of his lover Antinous. After a year of preparations, Antinous’ body is to be entombed. Hadrian’s entourage feels Hadrian will die tonight, from either sickness or sadness.

    Hadrian is visited by two deities only he can see: Emperor Trajan and his wife Plotina. Trajan, like a father to him, is here to comfort Hadrian. Plotina, having secured Hadrian the throne, is on a mission. Hadrian only wants to know the truth of what happened to Antinous.

    Convinced he is mad with grief, Hadrian orders his physician Hermogenes to kill him. Turbo, his long-time friend and head of his military, tries to reason with Hadrian. Hermogenes’ loyalty to his Emperor brings him to kill himself.

    Plotina and Trajan return. Plotina begins her campaign.

    Turbo addresses affairs of state: enemies of the status quo rise in power. This is of no concern to Hadrian; he’s busy memorializing Antinous. Knowing that time is short, Plotina strikes a deal: two nights with Antinous and the truth if Hadrian signs a document that would destroy those who would destroy them. Hadrian agrees.

    ACT II

    Seven years earlier, in Greece.

    Plotina leads Hadrian through the night he met Antinous: the feast of Robigalia, celebrated tonight to honour Hadrian’s tour of the Empire. Guests sing Hadrian’s praises. We meet Hadrian’s wife Sabina. Her sadness reveals itself: her husband has no heart for her.

    Present is Antinous, who was magnificent in the hunt today, killing a boar that was charging the Emperor. Preparations begin for a ceremonial sacrifice. Hadrian insists Turbo bring forward the hero of the hunt; Turbo is reluctant, concerned about the Emperor’s tastes.

    Hadrian longs to take Antinous in his arms, but knows the night must play out just as it did. We see their attraction is deep and true.

    For Hadrian’s amusement, a Sibyl has been procured. She predicts that Antinous will “sacrifice” and become a “saviour.” Hadrian turns his attention back to the celebration.

    A sacrifice is brought to the altar, small groups form. Hadrian and Antinous have found their destiny. Turbo and Sabina have found a common enemy in Antinous. The entourage considers political implications. The people gossip.

    Plotina reveals herself to us: she had been the Sibyl.


    INTERMISSION

    ACT III

    Egypt. A barge on the Nile.

    In a world between worlds, Hadrian and Antinous’ love expresses itself as all consuming.

    It is six years since the night Hadrian and Antinous met. Over time Antinous has shown himself to be a wise and gentle man. Hadrian recognizes this night as the night Antinous died.

    Unable to escape his real-world illness, and facing the worst night of his life, Hadrian begs Plotina to change the rules. She refuses.

    The entourage, sick of life on the road, amuse themselves with drinking games. When Antinous appears we see that he has captured their hearts. Antinous has a peaceable approach to the Jews and Nazarenes. Turbo sees this as supporting the power of monotheism. He worries that Hadrian is too influenced by Antinous.

    Sabina is tormented by her husband’s love for Antinous. She and Turbo speak of a plan: a deception is to be undertaken by a Sybil. Sabina is unsure, Turbo is determined.

    The bedchamber. Antinous cares for Hadrian. A Sybil comes to help with Hadrian’s illness. She declares that Hadrian’s recovery requires a sacrifice.

    Hadrian briefly steps into the world between. He sees that the Sibyl is Sabina. Back in the fever dream of the past Antinous cares for Hadrian tenderly. Sabina witnesses Hadrian’s love for Antinous. Her husband has a heart. She is moved.

    On deck we see that Antinous trusts the Sibyl’s words. He is about to sacrifice himself. Sabina rushes in to end the game. Turbo shows himself and has Sabina taken away. Alone with Antinous, Turbo admits the deception then kills Antinous, delivering his body to the Nile.

    ACT IV

    Tibur, outside Rome. Hadrian’s last moments.

    Back in the real world. Hadrian, now more broken than he was, makes a show of signing the document, thus ending Judea. Plotina is elated, monotheism will die. She will live eternal.

    Turbo is delighted, Hadrian is himself again, the Empire will thrive. Hadrian explains this document will see the Empire fall. Then he tells Turbo what he knows: Turbo killed Antinous. Turbo admits it with no remorse. Hadrian moves to stab Turbo in the heart, but stops, he asks “Why?”

    Turbo explains he was protecting the legacy of his friend and Emperor. Hadrian disdains all material concerns naming his own legacy in his final words, “He loved.” In this moment Turbo sees the truth. Hadrian dies.

    All deities present lead Hadrian into death. Hadrian and Antinous are reunited. The gods ponder their future as a dark chorus of unrest gathers. A time has ended. A time has begun.

    ~ Daniel MacIvor, librettist





  • Production photos from Canadian Opera Company's production of Hadrian, 2018. All photos: Michael Cooper.
  • New York Times | Rufus Wainwright’s First Opera Was ‘a Nightmare.’ He’s Trying Again

    Rufus Wainwright’s eyes filled with tears. He stood quietly, one hand marking time, as the rich voice of the baritone Thomas Hampson filled a rehearsal room looking out onto snow-capped mountain peaks here.

    READ MORE

    Toronto Star | ‘There were tears’: The battle to bring Hadrian to the Canadian Opera Company stage

    With days to go before the world premiere of his first opera, Daniel MacIvor says he is experiencing the sublime: “full of dread and giddy at the same time.”

    READ MORE

    TheWholeNote | Daring to Walk the Walk: The COC’s Hadrian

    It hasn’t opened yet. We don’t know what awaits us. But the Canadian Opera Company’s bet on Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian can’t lose. Oh, it can be a failure, for reasons I’ll explain below. But failure doesn’t mean failure. The very fact that Hadrian is opening as scheduled is a small triumph. 

    READ MORE

    The Loop | Five things you need to know about ‘Hadrian

    It’s been at least five years since I first read that Rufus Wainwright was planning on mounting an opera about Hadrian. But it’s been some 20 years since the singer and songwriter suspected the Roman emperor’s story “would make a great operatic subject.”

    READ MORE

    Becoming Antinous

    Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell gives us an unprecedented look – recorded in real time, over four weeks – at what it takes to get ready for a world premiere.

    READ MORE

    Dramatically Roman: The Costumes of Hadrian

    “They’re definitely Roman-inspired,” says award-winning Canadian designer Gillian Gallow of the costumes she has conceived for Hadrian, the new opera by Rufus Wainwright. “But there is also an extremely theatrical and modern perspective to it.”

    READ MORE

  • "Will you have Egypt with me?" | Ambur Braid, October 2018

    An excerpt from Sabina's Act II aria, "Will you have Egypt with me?" performed by soprano Ambur Braid.



    Act III Excerpt | Thomas Hampson & Isaiah Bell, October 2018


    An excerpt from Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor's HADRIAN. This scene from Act III of the opera features Hadrian (Thomas Hampson) and Antinous (Isaiah Bell).



    Plotina's aria | Karita Mattila, October 2018


    An excerpt from Plotina's Act I aria, performed by soprano Karita Mattila.



    Behind the Scenes, September 2018


    Take an intimate behind-the-scenes look at rehearsals for Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor's Hadrian.



    The History of HADRIAN, October 2018


    In part one, we chat with author and historian Anthony Majanlahti about the life of Roman Emperor Hadrian.



    ENTR'ACTE from Behind the Season, March 2018

    Maestro Johannes Debus conducts this excerpt, called "Entr'acte" ("Between the Acts"), and offers his play-by-play in written annotations. The magnificent COC Orchestra performs.



  • “a gay love story that speaks to our time.” New York Times

    “It was a truly grand spectacle, with stunning visuals from the set, costumes, video projections, and positioning of cast, chorus and five male dancers.” Toronto Star

    “whole stretches of Mr. Wainwright’s music are beguiling, inventive and unabashedly romantic.” New York Times

     “The orchestra bubbles with eclectic sounds and stunning, pared-down moments of chamber music. The score makes nods to Satie, Debussy, Puccini and Mahler… There’s a fun sextet that feels like a modern version of the sexy Carmen quintet.” Globe and Mail

    “★★★★★… What Hadrian will be remembered for – be it the lush orchestral music, the stellar singing, the captivating plot of love, jealousy and political power struggle, or the explicit love-making scenes – only time will tell. Judging by the audience’s reaction, two recurring lines in the libretto aptly sum things up: “I remember this night” and “We will never be forgotten.” Hadrian’s world premiere is a night to remember, and the opera is not soon to be forgotten.” La Scena Musicale

    “there are veritable moments, and just enough of them, of operatic alchemy in Hadrian—where the text and music seem to be made for each other.” Opera Canada

    “With Hadrian, the COC has been methodical and intelligent, pairing Wainwright with librettist Daniel MacIvor to turn this chapter of ancient Roman history into a viable gay-themed opera, and enlisting superstars Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila to lead the cast.” CBC Music

    “A major draw…the COC rounds up a fascinating cast of big names and rising stars.” The Globe and Mail

    Hadrian dominates Canadian Opera Company’s 2018-19 season.” Toronto Star

    “Its world premiere on Oct. 13 will no doubt be one of the more closely watched events of the season.” Opera Canada


Banner photo features Gerry Egan (former Assistant, Scheduling & Events) and Shawn Molko (Event Staff), by Gaetz Photography.

HADRIAN

Rufus Wainwright with libretto by Daniel MacIvor
To

WORLD PREMIERE

Emperor Hadrian is devastated after his lover Antinous drowns in the Nile River. While matters of state encroach on his grief, and advisors clamour for war against a radical new threat to the Empire, Hadrian slips out of time to re-encounter the vision and reality of Antinous—and learn the truth about what happened on the Nile.

This highly anticipated world premiere from composer Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor features the company debuts of opera legends Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila, and is presented by the same creative team behind the COC’s 2017 production of Louis Riel.

Content advisoryHadrian contains partial nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Should you have questions or require more details, we invite you to contact our team at 416-363-8231 or 1-800-250-4653.  



Connect with us on social by using #COCHadrian | @CanadianOpera

UNDER 30? Get your $22 tickets here.

Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

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