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Tracking Canadians at home and abroad.


Tenors Ben Heppner and Richard Margison were appointed Officers of the Order of Canada this spring, while Ezra Schabas, professor emeritus of music, University of Toronto, was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.

Richard Bradshaw, general director of the Canadian Opera Company, was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in a special ceremony at the residence of the Consul General of France in Toronto. This tribute honors those who have distinguished careers in the arts or literature, and who have contributed to French culture in France and around the world.

Soprano Tamara Hummel, former Metropolitan Auditions winner and COC Ensemble Studio member, has been selected to attend the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago this summer on a full scholarship, studying the song repertoire with such distinguished artists as Sir Thomas Allen, Christoph Eschenbach, Martin Katz and Benita Valente.

Vancouver's Modern Baroque Opera is the winner of the third annual Alcan Performing Arts Award, a $50,000 production fund that is the largest award of its kind in Canada. The new opera, entitled 120 Songs for Sade, will premiere at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in March 2002. The creative team for the opera includes composer Peter Hannan, who will co-write the libretto with Peter Hinton, who in turn will co-direct with MBO artistic director Kate Hutchinson. The work is made up of 120 short pieces based on scenes from the life and works of the Marquis de Sade, and is scored for eight to 12 singers performing multiple roles. Singers slated for the cast include Colin Balzer, Jennie Such, Gregory Dahl, Phoebe MacRae and Matthew White. The Alcan Performing Arts Award is open to performing-arts companies in British Columbia, and rotates annually among the disciplines of dance, theatre and music/opera.

Opera Lyra Ottawa has launched the Vivian Asfar Memorial Award for Vocal Excellence, to be presented yearly to a singer age 30 or under who has had a supporting or understudy role in an Opera Lyra production, or to a member of the company's Young Artists Program. This year's award, a cash prize of $1,250, is intended to help the recipient launch a career in opera by assisting with final studies, master classes, high-profile auditions or special vocal programs. The prize money is provided through the Vivian Asfar Memorial Fund for Opera Studies. Application details are available from Opera Lyra Ottawa at 613-233-9200, or online at

Also at Opera Lyra, Bell Canada was presented with an OPERA America Bravo Award for corporate support of the Ottawa company. The award is presented annually to five U.S. and one Canadian corporation that have demonstrated exceptional support of opera companies in their geographic area.

A new recording of Handel's Apollo e Dafne and Silete venti on the Dorian label won the Juno Award for best classical recording. It features soprano Karina Gauvin and baritone Russell Braun, with Les Violons du Roy conducted by Bernard Labadie.

Baritone Sergei Stilmachenko has been accepted for the Centre de Formation Lyrique de l'Opera National de Paris for 2001-2002. Currently, he is a member of the Atelier des Jeunes Voix du Rhin of the Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg.

Three Canadians figured prominently when the George London Foundation named its 2001 winners on March 29, following the finals in New York. Among the six top winners (US$7,500 each) were bass Robert Pomakov (George London Award) and soprano Measha Bruggergosman (George London/ Kirsten Flagstad Memorial Award). Soprano Michele Capalbo was awarded the Encouragement Grant, worth US$1,000, a Canadian prize in honor of Lucy Purdy Posik.


When Isabel Bayrakdarian appeared in Lyric Opera of Chicago's Il Barbiere di Siviglia on Jan. 29, she became the first soprano in the history of the 46-year-old company to sing Rosina. Beginning with Giulietta Simionato in its initial season (1954), the company has always used mezzo-sopranos, including Teresa Berganza, Marilyn Horne and Frederica von Stade, among others. Engaged to sing three student matinees later in the season, Bayrakdarian was replacing mezzo Vesselina Kasarova at the evening performance. Though she has described her voice as more of a lyric than a coloratura soprano, Bayrakdarian won a notable success.

On March 21, Bayrakdarian returned to Los Angeles, where she won First Prize at the Placido Domingo Operalia Awards last September, to sing in "Placido Domingo and Friends: the Welcome Concert & Gala," an evening honoring Domingo as artistic director of the Los Angeles Opera. On April 4, she sang in the rarely performed Antoine et Cleopatre by Johann Hasse at the Theatre des Champs Elysees under conductor Rene Jacobs. This July finds her in Cincinnati, singing the role of Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflote.--With files from Richard Covello

As a result of the success baritone Brett Polegato had in Pelleas et Melisande at Leipzig Opera last winter, he has been invited to reprise the role next year at several important theatres (marking the centenary of the Opera's premiere in 1902), including the Opera Comique and concert performances with the Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich, both in April 2002. He will also make his debut in this role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Spring 2003. In the meantime, Polegato is busy learning a new role, that of the Flight Steward in Flight, a new opera by Jonathan Dove, slated for the Vlaamse Opera (Antwerp) in Feb.-Mar. 2002.

IN brief: * Tenor Stuart Howe, who appeared in the world premiere of Iron Road in April, was part of a special concert on May 22 in Haifa, Israel, on the occasion of the opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab. To mark the opening, an oratorio and a symphony have been composed by, respectively, Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen and Tajik composer Tolib Shahidi. The concert was telecast worldwide via satellite. * Tenor Ross Neill, who recently sang the role of Edrisi in Opera in Concert's King Roger and Don Jose in Opera Mississauga's Carmen, made his Cleveland Opera debut in May as Cassio in Otello. More performances as Don Jose are on the horizon in Jan. 2002 for the Santa Barbara Grand Opera. * This spring, baritone Mark Pedrotti sang Lescaut in New Zealand Opera's production of Massenet's Manon.

Canadian stage director David Walsh received critical accolades for his revival of Pfitzner's Palestrina at the Royal Opera House in London last winter. Andrew Clark in the Financial Times wrote: "Tne staging, expertly rehearsed by David Walsh, takes on a new confidence and logic." A native of Toronto, Walsh holds the position of Szenischer Studienleiter for the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, and had the honor of directing the first-ever production of a Wagner opera in China when he staged Der Fliegende Hollander in Shanghai in 1999. He is currently directing a production of Ariadne auf Naxos for his home theatre in June.

Tenor Richard Margison remains one of the busiest of singers. After his first ever Andrea Chenier in Genoa last March, he made a rare foray into the German repertoire as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Metropolitan Opera in April. He returns to more familiar ground as Radames in Aida for upcoming engagements in San Diego and San Francisco, and for his debut at the Verona Opera Festival this summer.

Baritone Gino Quilico will assume the title role in Don Giovanni at this summer's Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland. The production comes from the Los Angeles Opera, the first American company invited to participate in the prestigious festival. The rest of Quilico's summer and the fall are taken up with performances of Chorebe in Berlioz's Les Troyens in Munich (June 30-July 12; Nov. 19-30).

The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio membership has just been announced. There will be 10 singers and two pianists on next year's roster. New members include soprano Maaike Maria deBruyn, mezzo-sopranos Andrea Ludwig and Colleen Skull, tenor Peter Collins and bass-baritone Olivier Laquerre. Returning members include sopranos Shannon Mercer and Martha Guth, tenors Roger Honeywell and David Pomeroy, and baritone Joseph Kaiser. Also new next season are pianists Sandra Lindsay and Susan Ball.

Tenor John Mac Master will be making his debut with L'Opera de Montreal, in the title role of Peter Grimes in September 2001. Also in the cast will be baritone John Fanning. Last seen there as Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, Fanning returns to sing the role of Captain Balstrode. A regular at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Fanning's assignments next season include the Father in Hansel und Gretel (January 2002) and in Wolf-Ferrari's Sly (April 2002).


Ben Heppner has become the first tenor since fabled German tenor Fritz Wunderlich in the 1960s to sign an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Heppner's first recording for DG will be an album of French arias. Future plans include Walther von Stolzing, in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, his third recording of this role, this time with fellow Canadian Michael Schade as David, under the direction of Christian Thielemann. Also in the works is a duet album with Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel. Heppner has already recorded a new Ariadne auf Naxos, singing Bacchus under the late Giuseppe Sinopoli, to be released this summer.

Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka sings Alice Ford in a new recording of Falstaff from Deutsche Grammophon, with Bryn Terfel in the title role and Claudio Abbado conducting. The recording session took place in Berlin in April.

Tenor Richard Margison will release an all-Verdi aria disc from CBC records later this year, as well as Lanza on the Warner label, a recording made for the film on the life of Mario Lanza, in which he sings the title role.

The 8th edition of Music Directory Canada has just been published by Norris-Whitney Communications. This comprehensive guide to the Canadian music industry features over 60 categories, providing such useful information as booking agents, concert venues, management companies, promotion and publicity companies, and recording studios. For additional information, contact Christina Colli at 905-641-3471, or look on the Internet at


IN our Winter 2000 issue, mention of the new Pacific Opera Victoria chorus scholarship program did not include reference to this year's recipients, Megan Skidmore and Robyn Cathcart. The scholarship program has been realized through the generosity of Erika Kurth and her gift to the POV Foundation.

In the same issue, we implied that Opera New Brunswick's production of Carmen was performed in St. John's. In fact, it took place in St. John, N.B.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Opera Canada Publications
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:So, Joseph
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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