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Opera diary: news on Canadian artists at home & abroad.

LAST SUMMER, MICHAEL SCHMIDT REALIZED A 10-YEAR-OLD DREAM when he mounted Mozart's The Magic Flute in his barn. Schmidt, who immigrated to Canada in 1983, played violin in several orchestras in Germany before becoming a farmer. He turned to conducting because "farming isn't kind to the hands," and conducted all nine performances of The Magic Flute himself. The production was directed by Heinar Piller, founder of Theatre London and currently chairman for performing arts at George Brown College in Toronto. Piller credits the "young opera singers, dreaming of a professional career, seasoned musicians from the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic, countless volunteers from the community devoting their time and talent to this project" with making the project the success it was. The performances, given over six days, attracted over 3,000 people from Ontario and beyond. This summer, Schmidt plans to mount (and conduct) Handel's Messiah and Lehar's Merry Widow, as well as a reprise of The Magic Flute. For dates and more information, see the Summer Festivals feature on page 14. SOPRANO MARY LOU FALLIS BELIEVES MUSIC CAN BE THE ROUTE TO A healthier, happier life, particularly if you're in the grip of the winter blahs. This January, a near capacity crowd of 165 attended at the first of her seven free concerts at Toronto's Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. Dr. Anthony Levitt, a Toronto psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders, says there are no studies that prove music can cure so-called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, although he admits it may work for some people. As for Fallis, she maintains, "You feel very different at the end of a concert than at the beginning." VANCOUVER OPERA GUILD WILL DISBURSE A $4,000 CAREER DEVELOPment Grant in May. The grant is intended to help people involved with opera, or those preparing for a career in the operatic field, to improve their skills or to work on a personal project related to opera. It isn't available to students for the completion of a music degree, but instead is designed to assist those not yet fully established in a professional career. The deadline for applications is April 15. For further information, call Mrs. R. Michael LePage at 604-274-2729. THE MOST EXCITING OF RECENT IRISH OPERATIC VENTURES IS THE Opera Theatre Company. A touring group based in Dublin, it has been under the direction of Canadian James Conway in recent years, and he has achieved near miracles with limited resources. The company has now gained an international reputation for its Handel productions, and had another hit with Amadigi in May, 1996, as its 10th-anniversary celebration. Conducted with customary skill by OTC's regular Handel conductor, Seamus Crimmins, and directed by Conway, the production has already been seen at the Edinburgh and Convent Garden festivals, receiving rave notices all round, and this year it travels to New York's Brooklyn Academy (March 11-15), then visits Portugal in April. BARITONE PETER BARCZA IS not only well-travelled but WELL-received wherever he performs. In the fall, he won critical acclaim in France in two roles: the High Priest in Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila with l'Opera de Metz and Lescaut in Puccini's Manon Lescaut at the Grand Theatre de Limoges. December through February, he sang at various concert engagements throughout Canada, and in March, he travels to New Zealand to sing the title role in Verdi's Rigoletto. THE ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL FOUNDATION HAS GIVEN OPERA ONTARIO one of four $25,000 Lieutenant Governor's Awards for the Arts. This program, established through a gift from the Honorable Hal Jackman, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, rewards the efforts of Ontario arts organizations who have successfully built exceptional private-sector and community support. Opera Ontario currently presents opera in Hamilton-Wentworth and the Kitchener-Waterloo area as Opera Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo Opera respectively. The communities have pooled their resources to build a regional opera company. Ken Freeman, general director of Opera Ontario, says, "When communities join together in support of a common artistic and community goal, a new standard of artistic excellence can be achieved for the benefit of all." OUR APOLOGIES TO BRIAN McIntosh, whose name was inadvertently omitted in our Fall issue in our thanks to the participants in OPERA CANADA's Annual Gala concert. McIntosh began this season with the Canadian Opera Company in their two Strauss productions: as the First Nazarene in Salome and the Tutor in Elektra. In January, he sang the title role of The Mikado with Calgary Opera; in March, he sang the role of Frank in Die Fledermaus with Opera Lyra Ottawa in March, and he will appear as Angelotti in Tosca with Pacific Opera Victoria in April. THE VANCOUVER SYMPHONY AND VANCOUVER OPERA RECENTLY agreed to merge. The amalgamation still requires several issues to be resolved and, if formalized, will not happen before June 30. The proposed merger, which has been under study for several months, would see both organizations maintain their current, independent performance schedules until the end of the 1997-98 season. For the following season, the symphony would expand its role to play for the opera. Both VO general director Rob Hallam and symphony president Ron Dumouchelle agree that the greatest concern is for staff and players who will be ultimately affected. They also agree that while both the symphony and the opera are operating balanced budgets and are maintaining healthy subscription rates, competition for entertainment dollars and cuts to funding are realities. "With this merger," says Hallam, "we expect to open new markets, stabilize funding and--most importantly--ensure that our sponsors' and patrons' money is focused on art, not infrastructure." Vancouver Opera's conductor, David Agler, adds, "There is great sadness in my heart at the impending loss of an orchestra. My fervent hope is to see as many opera musicians abosrbed by the symphony orchestra as possible." VOX CURA, A CENTRE SPECIALIZING IN THE CARE OF THE PROFESSIONal voice, has recently opened its doors in Toronto. Headed up by Dr. Brian Hands, an ear, nose and throat surgeon who is currently voice consultant for the Canadian Opera Company, Livent Inc. and Mirvish Productions, the organization offers help to anyone whose voice is essential to their livelihood. Services include vocal and singing coaching, speech therapy and video stroboscopy, a small video camera and strobe light that illuminate the workings of the vocal chords, thus helping to pinpoint exact vocal difficulties. IN BRIEF: FEBRUARY 10, 1972 MARKED THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOUIS Quilico's debut at the Met. He sang Golaud in Pelleas et Melisande. *Speaking of anniversaries, it will be Leopold Simoneau's 80th birthday on May 3. He and his wife, Pierrette Alarie, were both made a Companion of the Order of Canada last September.*Calgary Opera entered its 25th season with record-breaking sales. By the opening night of Turandot, the company boasted its largest subscription and largest single-ticket sales in company history.*On September 12, the new Francis Winspear Centre for Music will open in Edmonton, a world-class concert hall that has been 14 years in the making. The 1,900-seat facility will welcome all styles of music, and the building is designed for music to be performed without electronic amplification. Edmonton philanthropist Francis Winspear, who largely financed the Centre with a $6-million donation, died January 24, 1997. He was 93.*Ardis Krainik, the general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, died on January 18, 1997. She had been associated with the Lyric since its initial 1954 season, and under her, the company became one of the world's most artistically and financially successful performing arts organizations.
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Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Mar 1, 1997
Previous Article:Comment (back issues of Opera Canada).
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