Archive for opera

Sondra Radvanovsky Toronto Recital Program Announced


Fresh from new operatic triumphs in Paris and San Francisco, where she once again astounded audiences with her magnificent portrayals of opera’s great dramatic heroines, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky returns to her hometown of Toronto for a rare and intimate recital with her long time pianist Anthony Manoli on Saturday, November 24 at 8pm at Koerner Hall, presented by ShowOne Productions.

Radvanovsky and Manoli’s new all-Italian recital program, From Bel Canto to Verismo, ranges from beloved early Italian songs through to scenes from her history-making roles. Following favourites like Caccini’s “Amarilli, mia bella” and “O Del Mio Dolce Ardor” by Gluck, the Toronto audience will hear two Verdi selections: the “Romanza” from the rarely-heard Il Corsaro and the dramatic sleepwalking scene from Macbeth. Other delights include Rossini’s charming trio of songs, La Regata Veneziana, and Puccini’s “Sole e amore” andE L’uccellino.” And, the program would not be complete without excerpts from her most famous roles: “L’amor suo mi fe beata” from Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and the devastating “Sola Perduta Abbandonata” from Manon Lescaut.

Since her spring performances at the Canadian Opera Company as Anna Bolena, when critics declared her “astonishing” (The Globe and Mail) and “extraordinary to behold” (The Toronto Star), Radvanovsky’s star has risen even higher. At the San Francisco Opera, she reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Roberto Devereux – one of the “three queens” she performed in a single season, to great acclaim, at the Metropolitan Opera. Reviewing her “blazing performance,” the San Francisco Chronicle declared, “Once you’ve experienced the kind of extravagant vocal majesty and theatrical intelligence that Saturday’s audience did, there’s just no going back.” And at the Opéra Bastille, in a history-making event, Paris audiences demanded a bis or encore of Leonora’s powerful 4th act aria in Il Trovatore. “Sondra Radvanovsky sang Leonora with great intelligence, beauty and unremitting power,” said Operawire, “The audience didn’t stop applauding …”

Also of note this fall, Erato will release on DVD the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Norma, which opened the 2017-18 season starring Radvanovsky in the title role, with Joyce DiDonato and Joseph Calleja. “[Radvanovsky,] with her bright, powerful voice and dramatic fervor, excelled in Norma’s moments of torment and fury,” said The New York Times, “Her sound … is the essence of raw, true emotion …”

ShowOne Productions first presented Sondra Radvanovsky in concert with the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky in 2010, giving many Canadians the opportunity to discover her for the first time, as well as in her most recent Toronto recital appearance, in 2015. Following the evening at Koerner Hall, The Globe and Mail said: “Radvanovsky had us at our ease before she sang a note, and then proceeded to deliver a stunning, stupendous program that reminded us why she is a once-in-a-generation vocal supernova.”

Formed in 2004 by Svetlana Dvoretsky, ShowOne Productions is a full scope production company that presents concerts with high-profile classical musicians, opera stars, and orchestras, as well as great dance and theatre companies. For over a decade, Show One Has presented thousands of performances on Canada’s best stages and concert halls and has made many Canadian debuts possible including last season’s historic Trio Magnifico: The Ultimate Opera Gala with Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyazov, and the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Other Show One Productions’ presentations to date include: BRODSKY/BARYSHNIKOV, a one-man theatrical performance performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov; Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Orchestra; Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic; Vladimir Spivakov and National Philharmonic of Russia and Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra; Orchestre National de France; soloists Denis Matsuev, Mischa Maisky, Ann-Sophie Mutter, and Mutter Virtuosi, amongst many others.


Sondra Radvanovsky in Recital with pianist Anthony Maloni

From Bel Canto to Verismo

Saturday, November 24th at 8:00 pm

Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Limited Tickets Still Available at or by calling (416) 408-0208.


Composer Luna Pearl Woolf ~ 8 New & Acclaimed Works Heard This Spring

The music of Luna Pearl Woolf, praised by The New York Times for its “psychological nuances and emotional depth” is heard far and wide this spring with both existing works and new commissions, with artists including Dame Evelyn Glennie and ensembles such as the Deutsches Kammerorchester. Utilizing a huge variety of instrumentation  –  from solo clarinet to orchestra to cello-and-choir  –  Woolf’s poignant subjects range from devastating floods to the sumptuous love poetry of Rumi.  Last month, Woolf served as the inaugural composer-in-residence for San Francisco’s Bard Music West with a newly-commissioned score for the mime play Act Without Words I by Samuel BeckettSan Francisco Classical Voice called it “a fabulous new production” praising how “Woolf’s illustrative music skillfully augments the performers’ movements.”

NEW YORK – On Thursday, April 27th at 8:00 pm, Luna Pearl Woolf’s Rumi: Quatrains of Love (2012) will have its New York premiere on a program by ChamberMusicNY and the American Modern Ensemble at Merkin Hall, featuring soprano Marnie Breckenridge. San Francisco Classical Voice said the work, which features translations of nine poems by the 13th-century Sufi mystic, “alluringly displayed diverse facets of love refracted through a variety of genres … timeless and borderless.” Free tickets to the New York concert are available here. Woolf will also be on hand for an onstage Q&A.

MADISON – Woolf’s acclaimed Après moi, le Déluge is heard the following day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Friday, April 28th at 8:00 pm. The performance features cellist Matt Haimovitz and the UW Concert Choir, directed by Beverly Taylor, who also premiered the work in 2005. A response to the tragic aftermath following Hurricane Katrina, with an original text by poet Eleanor Wilner, Après Moi has been heard in numerous cities over the past 12 years, including New York City, Washington, DC, Houston, Austin, Montreal, and, most significantly, New Orleans.  Strings Magazine calls it “sorrowful, deeply political, and aching with universal regret.”

NEW YORK – Trinity Wall Street’s contemporary music orchestra, NOVUS New York, conducted by Julian Wachner, performs After the Wave on Thursday, May 18 at 1:00 pm, part of the Concerts at One series. Woolf’s 2005 work is dedicated to the survivors of the South Asian tsunami of December 24, 2004, which killed 225,000 people. Calling upon the emotional abyss between panic and grief, productivity and hope, After the Wave attempts to span the physical void from North America’s comfortable coasts to the ravaged one in Sumatra. The concert, on the theme of the 2017 Trinity Institute National Theological Conference on climate change and water crises, also includes John Luther Adam’s Pulitzer Become Ocean.

CALGARY – Further expanding her forays into dramatic instrumental music, Woolf has created Entanglement, a choreographed work for renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and cellist Ruth Sandvoss of Calgary’s Land’s End Ensemble. The commission celebrates the ensemble’s 20th Anniversary season and will be premiered on Friday, May 26 at 7:30 pm. Using only use the cello, the floor, and the two performers’ bodies as percussion instruments, this sensual and surprising work pushes the musical, dramatic, and physical possibilities for a percussionist and cellist.

BERLINLINZ – In June, Woolf’s works are heard in Germany and Austria. On Tuesday, June 6 the Deutsches Kammerorchester in Berlin performs a premiere arrangement of Schubert’s Arpeggionne sonata for cello and strings, featuring Matt Haimovitz. Then, on Friday, June 9 Woolf’s Suspense, new music for the 1913 silent film by Lois Weber, for 8 cellos and 4 percussionists, is presented by the Bruckner Orchestra’s new music festival in Linz.

TORONTO – Woolf has also been commissioned to write a new mass in three movements, Missa in Fines Orbis Terrae (To the Ends of the Earth), for the Choir of The Cathedral Church of St. James, in Toronto accompanied by that cathedral’s renowned organ. The mass, under the direction of Robert Busiakiewicz, will be premiered on Sunday July 30.

Other recent projects for Luna Pearl Woolf include Better Gods, an opera about last queen of Hawaii and the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, commissioned by Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative; Lili‘uokalani for solo cello piccolo, an overture to Bach’s Cello Suite VI commissioned by Matt Haimovitz for his Overtures to Bach, widely performed across the US, Canada and in Germany and recorded on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series (Grammy winner for producer David Frost); and One to One to One, commissioned by the Arte Musica Foundation for a composer portrait concert at Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Woolf has also been named a finalist for Houston Grand Opera’s 2017 Song of Houston, an initiative which commissions new projects that resonate with contemporary life in Houston. Upcoming projects soon to be announced include a new co-commission from with opera companies on Toronto and San Francisco.


Opera McGill Presents Die Fledermaus ~ A Glittering 60th Anniversary Production!

fledermaus-image_sgprThis season, Opera McGill proudly celebrates 60 incredible years of training, mentoring, and nurturing young artists. The showpiece of this diamond anniversary season is a new production of Die Fledermaus, the beloved and lighthearted masterwork by Johann Strauss II, last presented by Opera McGill in its 30th anniversary season, in 1986. Opera McGill Director Patrick Hansen serves as both Music and Stage Director for this glamorous new production, to be sung in German with German dialogue, with surtitles in French and English. Dramatic sets and costumes inspired by Gustav Klimt in black, white and gold are by the Opera McGill design team, all of whom are alumni of the National Theatre School: Vincent Lefèvre (sets), Ginette Grenier (costumes), Serge Filiatrault (lighting), and Florence Cornet (makeup). Die Fledermaus receives three performances, January 26, 27 and 28, at the Monument National’s Salle Ludger-Duvernay, a rare move to a major Montreal venue off-campus for Opera McGill.

Strauss’s operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) premiered in 1874 and its gorgeous melodies, waltzes, and wit – and featuring deceptions and disguises among friends and lovers – made it an immediate part of the regular operatic repertory. The opera centers upon an extravagant masquerade ball hosted by a Russian prince. Opera McGill will maintain the tradition of featuring surprise “guests” at the ball, which will include appearances by some of the program’s illustrious alumni.  Several current Opera McGill students are already making impressive forays in the operatic world, including mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh (Prince Orlofsky), who recently won First Prize at the Canadian Opera Company’s annual Ensemble Studio Competition as well as the $25,000 Wirth Vocal Prize for 2016-2017.  (Wirth Prize finalists Jean-Philippe Mc Clish and Igor Mostovoi will alternate in the role of the devious Dr. Falke.)

This season also marks the 10th anniversary of Patrick Hansen’s tenure as Director of Opera McGill, a program that was founded in 1956 by Edith and Luciano Della Pergola. Hansen continues to forge a unique career throughout North America as an operatic conductor, vocal coach, and stage director working with such companies as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pittsburgh Opera, Tulsa Opera, The Juilliard Opera Center, Glimmerglass Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. Hansen has been praised by The New York Times for his “lithe pacing and vivid colors” (conductor, Bluebeard’s Castle) and by Opera Canada for capturing “the opera’s bohemian vitality” for his stage direction of La bohème.

Regarding his dual roles of conducting and staging Opera McGill’s new Die Fledermaus, Hansen says: “I was initially trained in opera by Robert Larsen who conducted and directed every opera he produced. Robert believed that operatic text and music were intrinsically connected, as do I, and when one is properly focused on that connection it makes a great deal of sense to not separate the two by separating conducting and directing responsibilities. In my work as a conductor, I focus on letting the text be sung and acted with as much character as possible. In my work as a director, I help the singers physicalize the music given to them by the composer. For me, music and text are one.”

About Opera McGill

As one of the leading opera training programs in North America, Opera McGill’s students come from all over Canada, the United States, and Europe. At least three new productions are created each season: a mainstage opera with orchestra, a baroque opera with period instruments and tuning (in collaboration with the Early Music program), and a “black box” production. Additionally, Opera McGill has inaugurated a series of Community and Educational Engagement and Events that allow students to perform off- campus in the Montreal area as well as in the CEGEPs and elementary schools.

About the Schulich School of Music

Founded in 1904, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University embodies the highest international standards of excellence in professional training and research. The School is renowned for its programs in orchestra, opera, jazz, early music and contemporary music. Its status as a leader in sound recording and music technology provides unique possibilities for collaboration with the larger musical community.  Recognized as one of the major music schools in North America, the Schulich School of Music has more than 850 students, 240 faculty members and top programs in research and technology.  It hosts some 700 concerts and events each year.


Trio Magnifico ~ The Ultimate Opera Gala! April 25, 2017 in Toronto

trio-magnifico-imageSvetlana Dvoretsky of Show One Productions in collaboration with the Canadian Opera Company, Alexander Neef, General Director, is proud to present the world premiere appearance of a trio of today’s most remarkable opera stars. Trio Magnifico: The Ultimate Opera Gala stars soprano Anna Netrebko, today’s reigning prima donna in her Canadian debut, outstanding tenor Yusif Eyazov, and the dynamic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, for a truly magnificent evening of opera arias, duets, and trios, never before experienced. Italian conductor Jader Bignamini conducts the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra in the Gala concert on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Tickets go on sale on Thursday, October 20 at 10:00 am (11:00 in person at the COC box office).

With her distinctively beautiful voice, abundant charisma, and arresting stage presence, Anna Netrebko is acclaimed for her performances around the world. Since her triumphant Salzburg Festival debut in 2002, Netrebko has gone on to appear with nearly all the world’s great opera companies, from the Metropolitan Opera to London’s Royal Opera House, and from the Paris Opera to La Scala. The Russian soprano frequently returns to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg to collaborate with her long time mentor, conductor Valery Gergiev. Her extensive discography includes several award-winning albums on Deutsche Grammophon including the newly-released Verismo, which has received enormous acclaim worldwide, claiming the No. 1 spot on the Classical charts and even entering the Pop charts in several countries. “Nothing short of magnificent,” says the San Francisco Chronicle, “a powerful artistic statement from a great and still growing singer.” And The Observer raves, “Verismo reveals Netrebko is more than just a star; her performances of arias and scenes from Italian opera highlight an artistry that is both subtle and thrilling.”

In recent weeks, Netrebko has been joined on stage by her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov in a series of hugely successful concerts in Hamburg, Cologne, Sochi, Budapest and Moscow. Eyvazov, born in Algeria and raised in Azerbaijan, has been praised by The Los Angeles Times as “an exciting tenor whose sound is metallic, stentorian and markedly Italianate.” This past season he starred in the Los Angeles Opera production of I Pagliacci conducted by Plácido Domingo, and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Calaf in Turandot, along with debuts at the Paris Opera and Salzburg Festival. This season, Eyvazov returns to the Bolshoi Theatre, Bayerische Staatsoper, Prague Opera, and Mariinsky Theatre in major roles.

Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky has mesmerized audiences around the world with his majestic voice and dashing presence, acclaimed for his “smouldering manner” (Financial Times) and “confidence, daring, exceptional technique and a caramel-colored voice (Washington Post). Hvorostovsky has performed under the Show One Productions umbrella for almost a decade, in a variety of recital and opera programs. His career has taken him to all the world’s major opera houses and renowned international festivals, and he is a celebrated recitalist in demand in every corner of the globe. Dmitri was the first opera singer to give a solo concert with orchestra and chorus on Red Square in Moscow – an event which was televised in over 25 countries. His extensive and award-winning discography spans recitals and complete operas. His current season includes appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Gran Teatro del Liceu Barcelona and his debut at the Bolshoi, as well as extensive concert and recital tours.

Jader Bignamini is Resident Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica la Verdi in Milan. Recent career highlights include his Asian debut at the Otsu Biwako Hall in Japan and his South American debut at the Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo. Upcoming engagements include Andrea Chénier at the Tokyo National Opera; La Traviata at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, directed by Sofia Coppola; La Traviata at the Arena of Verona; and Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi with Anna Netrebko. Bignamini was born in Crema, Italy, and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory.

The COC Orchestra has received worldwide acclaim for its musical versatility and range of expression. Under German-born conductor Johannes Debus, who was appointed Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company in 2009, the Orchestra’s quality and consistency has only increased. In addition to winning the love and respect of his colleagues, Mr. Debus has captivated Toronto and international critics with an emphasis on artistic excellence and riveting musical presentation, as evidenced by a recent performance of Wagner’s Siegfried when “Debus was deeply into the music, but careful to keep each emotion and sentiment in its place. And his orchestra played their hearts out for him – as good as the COC Orchestra has ever sounded” (Globe and Mail).

Formed in 2004 by Svetlana Dvoretsky, Show One Productions is a full scope production company that presents concerts with high-profile classical musicians, opera stars, and orchestras, as well as great dance and theatre companies. For over a decade, Show One Has presented thousands of performances on Canada’s best stages and concert halls and has made many Canadian debuts possible including the upcoming “Trio Magnifico.” Show One Productions’ presentations to date include: Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Orchestra; Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic; Vladimir Spivakov and National Philharmonic of Russia and Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra; Orchestre National de France, opera stars Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky; soloists Denis Matsuev, Mischa Maisky, Ann-Sophie Mutter, and Mutter Virtuosi, amongst many others.

Artists and dates subject to change.


TRIO MAGNIFICO:  The Ultimate Opera Gala

Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

TICKETS:   $55 – $345   Grand Ring Box Seats $450  Ÿ Standing Room available day of the performance at $50
Prices include HST, $9 box office charge for phone and online sales

WWW.COC.CA or 416 363-8231 or 1-800 1-800-250-4653

In person at 145 Queen Street West, Toronto (Mon to Sat, 11am – 6pm)

Opera McGill Celebrates Diamond Anniversary Season

Opera McGillOpera McGill marks 60 incredible years of training, mentoring, and nurturing young artists with a celebratory season featuring Handel’s magical Alcina at Pollack Hall, a glittering Die Fledermaus at the Monument National, and an innovative Opera Binge Festival featuring no less than seven one-act operas in 24 hours at multiple venues. This season also marks the 10th anniversary of Patrick Hansen’s tenure as Director of Opera McGill. Remarkably, Hansen is only the third director in the acclaimed program’s 60-year history, following his predecessor Dixie Ross-Neill and founding directors Edith and Luciano Della Pergola.

“This season we delight in celebrating our past, present and future with Handel, Johann Strauss, and several modern operas, including a North America premiere,” comments Patrick Hansen, continuing, “Opera McGill has much to be proud of after 60 years, with its impressive track record of helping to transform talented young singers into artists on the world’s great stages.”

Indeed, Opera McGill alumni may be found everywhere in the world of opera – from all of the major artist training programs in Canada, and many in the US – to the great opera stages of the world. Along with superstar singers like bass-baritone Gordon Bintner (Canadian Opera Company); soprano Tracy Cantin (Chicago Lyric Opera); and mezzo soprano Rihab Chaieb (Metropolitan Opera), to name just a few, Opera McGill grads are forging their place in the worlds of musical direction, like Michael Shannon, a coach at San Francisco’s Merola program; and Jordan de Souza, the new Head of Music at Berlin’s Komische Oper.

The season opens with Handel’s Alcina, continuing Opera McGill’s annual tradition of presenting a Baroque opera in collaboration with the Schulich School of Music’s Early Music Area. In celebration of his 10th anniversary, Patrick Hansen remounts his striking 2008 production, with sets by Vincent Lefèvre, costumes by Ginette Grenier, lighting by Serge Filiatrault, and makeup by Florence Cornet, who are the design team of Opera McGill. Set in a mystical world of knights and sorcerers, love and magic, Alcina, which premiered in 1735, features some of Handel’s most magnificent writing. Hank Knox conducts the McGill Baroque Orchestra in performances on November 5 and 7 at 7:30 pm and November 6 at 2:00 pm, all at Pollack Hall. (Performances on November 6 and 7 will also be webcast.)

In conjunction with the opening of Alcina, Opera McGill is throwing open the Wirth Opera Studio doors for a Homecoming event on Saturday, November 5. The alumni reunion – welcoming singers, pianists, orchestra members, directors, stage managers, designers, patrons, faculty or staff – features a full day of symposia, masterclasses, and receptions, leading up to the opening night of Alcina. The day includes an Entrepreneurship Symposium with alumni panelists, a masterclass with David Lefkowich (who will be in Montreal directing Don Giovanni at Opéra de Montréal), and more.

On March 10 and 11, Opera McGill invites audiences to indulge in the Lisl Wirth Black Box Opera Binge Festival, a deliciously packed day – and two evenings – of opera in multiple venues around Montreal. Early operas include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Mozart’s comic delight The Impresario, in a premiere adaptation by Patrick Hansen. Massenet’s Romantic Le portrait de Manon is paired with Ravel’s L’heure espagnole. A lively addition to the day is the children’s opera by Malcolm Fox, Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing. The day culminates at Théatre Paradoxe, with a double bill of Bartók’s Bluebeard Castle and the North American premiere of East o’the Sun, West o’the Moon by James Garner. Opera McGill’s Opera Binge Festival will undoubtedly satisfy the opera aficionado, neophyte, and opera-curious!


Opera McGill 2016/17 Season



NOVEMBER 5 AND 7, 2016 7:30 p.m. $30 / $20 POLLACK HALL

NOVEMBER 6, 2016 2:00 p.m. $30 / $20 POLLACK HALL

Hank Knox, conductor; Patrick Hansen, stage director; McGill Baroque Orchestra

In collaboration with the Early Music Area



JANUARY 26 TO 28, 2017 7:30 p.m. $40 / $35 / $20


Patrick Hansen, conductor and stage director; McGill Symphony Orchestra


Lisl Wirth Black Box OPERA BINGE Festival



MARCH 10, 2017 7:30 p.m. $15 / $10 REDPATH HALL


Stephen Hargreaves, music director; Jessica Derventzis, stage director


MARCH 11, 2017 11:00 a.m. $10 * WIRTH OPERA STUDIO

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART The Impresario (Premiere of a new adaptation by Patrick Hansen)

Jack Olszewski, music director; Patrick Hansen, stage director



MARCH 11, 2017 1:00 p.m. $10 / $5 / $20 Family Pass (4) POLLACK HALL

MALCOLM FOX Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing (60-minute interactive opera for kids! Ages 5-12)

Patrick Hansen, music director and stage director



JULES MASSENET Le portrait de Manon

MAURICE RAVEL L’heure espagnole

Olivier Godin, music director; Jonathan Patterson, stage director


MARCH 11, 2017 8:00 p.m. $25 / $15 THEATRE PARADOXE

BELA BARTOK A kékszakállú herceg vára (Bluebeard’s Castle)

JAMES GARNER East o’the Sun, West o’the Moon

Stephen Hargreaves, music director; Patrick Hansen, stage director



555 Sherbrooke Street W | In person or by phone: Monday – Friday, noon to 6:00 p.m.



To buy tickets online and for more information please see: 

@operamcgill   #operamcgill


Opera on the Avalon Presents the World Premiere of “Ours” ~ July 1 & 2

Ours-tn_SGPRNewfoundland and Labrador’s Opera on the Avalon proudly presents the world premiere of Ours, a new opera by Juno-nominated Canadian composer John Estacio with a libretto by Governor General Award-winning playwright Robert Chafe. Opera on the Avalon, led by Artistic Director Cheryl Hickman and based in St. John’s, is Atlantic Canada’s only professional opera company. Opera on the Avalon commissioned Ours to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, a WWI battle which devastated the ranks of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on July 1, 1916. Internationally-acclaimed baritone Brett Polegato leads an all-Canadian cast of twelve, with full chorus, in the role of Thomas Nangle, chaplain to the Regiment. The singers and orchestra are conducted by Judith Yan with stage direction by Glynis Leyshon and design by Patrick Clark. Ours will be presented in two performances, on July 1 and 2 at 8pm, at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s.

For Hickman, who was born and raised in St. John’s, Ours resonates far beyond the province’s borders, “Our vision is to create a work that will be a legacy for all Canadians, to help us honour the memories of the past and to serve as an inspiration for our future. Newfoundland and Labrador is steeped in history and Opera on the Avalon is dedicated to transforming that history into art.”

Ours was one of only four new Canadian operas invited to present a showcase at this year’s Opera America conference. To hear an excerpt from the beautiful, moving score please click here (begin 35:40).

“Ours” is how the people of the province referred to the Newfoundland Regiment. During the Battle of the Somme, the Regiment’s tragic advance near the French town of Beaumont Hamel on the morning of July 1, 1916 became an enduring symbol of valour and wartime sacrifice – and a cultural memory seared into the hearts of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In a single morning, the Regiment was almost wiped out. When roll call was taken, only 68 men answered – 324 were killed, or missing and presumed dead, and 386 were wounded.  “I am honoured to have the opportunity to tell a story that is of great significance to Newfoundland’s rich history,” comments composer John Estacio, “Ours will be an intimate and personal opera about individuals whose lives were indelibly affected by this battle. Through music and storytelling, I hope to honour the sacrifices made by thousands and celebrate the land they loved and called home.”

This is first opera libretto for St. John’s-based playwright Robert Chafe: “Ours is an attempt to speak to patriotism and nationhood, faith, and family. I think it has resonance beyond any specific discussion of war … it goes to places that examine our human need for meaning, our need to commemorate, and to make sense of those things that are difficult to remember – but can’t be forgotten.”

Ours tracks the social, political, and emotional aftermath of the battle of Beaumont Hamel through the story of Thomas Nangle, whose dedication, sacrifice, and renewal is the human embodiment of Newfoundland’s journey through the war, its horrific aftermath, and its re-emergence as a province of Canada. Nangle was posted as chaplain to the Newfoundland Regiment shortly after Beaumont Hamel and served out the rest of the war with “Ours.” Following the war, he lead efforts to exhume, identify, and properly bury the remains of much of the lost regiment across Europe, then almost single-handedly established the existing five war memorial sites across Europe, as well as the Newfoundland National War Memorial in St. John’s. His hard work didn’t come without personal cost, however, and Nangle, disillusioned, left the priesthood and Newfoundland. Though his legacy stands in stone on two continents, his name – of unparalleled importance in the history of Newfoundland – has all but been lost to popular knowledge.  In addition to baritone Brett Polegato as Thomas Nangle, the cast features tenor Roger Honeywell as Archbishop Roche, head of the church in Newfoundland; with mezzo soprano Elizabeth Turnbull as the mother of an underage soldier; and soprano Lara Ciekiewicz as May, the fiancé of a troubled soldier who meets a tragic end.

Today, July 1 remains an official day of remembrance in Newfoundland and Labrador. Coinciding with the world premiere of Ours, Jim Maunder’s art installation “Garden of Tears” will fill the lawns of the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s with over 1,500 forget-me-not flowers.

Founded in 2009 by opera singer Cheryl Hickman, Opera on the Avalon has become an undisputed leader in the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador, with a diverse and innovative repertoire that pushes the boundaries of opera. The company offers emerging artists the opportunity to explore new and established repertoire alongside distinguished artists. This season, Opera on the Avalon also presents Sondheim’s Sweeny Todd on June 17 and 18.

The commission of Ours is generously sponsored by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, The Canada Council for the Arts, Commemorate Canada, Telus, the Patten Family Foundation, Cox & Palmer, and Marco.