Saturday, 18 June 2011

Calling all opera fans

Edmonton Opera can only afford to stage three operas each season, and although they do what they can to attract people like students on a limited budget, the fact is a night at the opera is seen as a pricey proposition, even if it's peanuts compared to a night at an often barely entertaining Oilers game. Well, The Journal on Friday did what it can to give opera lovers the heads-up about two opera productions that are economical and from my experience always pretty entertaining.
Opera Nuova's Timms Centre productions of Rusalka and the Marriage of Figaro next week are real opera with really good singers, and for almost anyone with a little discretionary income for arts outings, the productions should be seen as an obvious opportunity.
There's no doubt the average opera-goer has means and isn't a penurious student, which brings me to my main point. I've been to a few Banff International String Quartet Competitions, where young string players perform their hearts out, just like the Opera Nuova singers do, and the people, many of them from as far away as Europe, who fill the Eric Harvie Theatre three times a day for a week are typical middle-aged and elderly classical music buffs. They're sort of like a throng of appreciating grandmas and grandpas who love the art, and really love it when young people are doing it well. That's the way the opera supporters of Edmonton should see the Opera Nuova Vocal Arts Festival, and in particular, the fully-staged operas on  the Timms stage all next week. Subscribers to Edmonton Opera have an chance to get more live opera next week, and folks who would like to hear some opera but can't normally afford it should check out the well-trained young singers' efforts starting Monday.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A dumber CBC

John Doyle's column in the Globe and Mail today says what he's been saying for years and what many Canadians who love the arts have been saying since the public broadcaster decided people who actually listen to CBC Radio 2 can bugger off because people who don't listen to CBC Radio 2 deserve a radio network that can give them what they can get in a hundred different places, oh, but without commercials. Doyle's point about how the arts are ignored on CBC is poignantly illustrated by a comment a reader made on Colin Eatock's excellent story last Wednesday's on the NAC's performance of Malcolm Forsyth's new work.

Here's the pertinent bit: "But it is a particular shame that CBC Radio, which has the option to record and broadcast this and other performances by the NACO, chose to deny A BALLAD OF CANADA to Canadians beyond the Ottawa and Edmonton (where it will be performed by the ESO next Remembrance Day) areas. Indeed, this piece should have been slated to be the cornerstone of a Radio Two Remembrance Day broadcast. But this is not the first time our national public broadcaster has passed on bringing Forsyth's accessible music to more Canadians. Wynnyk and I had a development deal with CBC Arts TV to create a television version of Forsyth's cantata, EVANGELINE (also featuring Carl Hare reading from the original Longfellow poem), a truly iconic Canadian story, but were quite dismayed when that network decided to scrap serious arts programming altogether, and thus ended the project. It is truly sad that Canada no longer has a public broadcaster committed to serious programming particularly television."

Harper would say all is well since the "majority" of Canadians don't want arts on TV, just like the majority (40 per cent) wanted him to tell the rest of us what's good for us. Isn't that almost a definition of Conservative? If I remember correctly, it took two people who objected to telling the government about how many pets they have to get the long form census killed?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Opera Nuova's profile

Opera Nuova presented its last performance of Light in the Piazza Saturday night. I usually see the final two operas that end the Vocal Arts Festival, but last night's modestly staged performance at the University of Alberta's Convocation Hall makes me want to hear more of  the fine young singers who come to Edmonton each year to hone their skills in hopes of developing a professional singing career. Most of them will not make it the way they imagine, but what they accomplish in the month they study in Edmonton will give them a really clear idea of where they're at at this moment. How they build on that will depend, of course, on native talent and loads of luck. Shorter term, there wasn't any singer who wasn't solidly entertaining. That's one accomplishment no amount of future struggle and 'failure,' can take away from them.
Try to get to one of the final opera performances later in the month: Marriage of Figaro and Rusalka.