What’s under the tree?

Alexander Neef

Canadian Opera Company General Director Alexander Neef, aka Santa Claus (Photo: Michael Cooper © 2008 )

The recent High Definition Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha offered another look at one of the most popular operas of the past few decades.  I am posting this the night before the Canadian Opera Company announces their 2012-2013 season, like a kid wondering what he’s gonna get for Christmas.  I know Santa needs to make sure the company stays solvent, no matter how risky the programming he offers his kids, er I mean subscribers.  I was hoping Santa (aka Alexander Neef) would offer something edgy and exciting:

  • Satyagraha would be my first choice, but I’d settle for anything by Philip Glass.  Akhnaten?  Yes please! Or barring that something from John Adams such as Doctor Atomic.  Okay, the items on this bullet are perhaps a long-shot, although i believe either of the Glass operas would draw a big crowd.
  • Something that’s mostly theatrical in its conception.  The Nightingale & Other Tales was another wonderful showcase for both Robert Lepage and the youthful talents of the COC.  Whether or not Lepage is part of the package, there are many other works that could exploit the COC’s strengths.  I am still remembering the Met’s Damnation of Faust, a showcase for the orchestra & chorus, a work that’s not really an opera at all, and a fabulous template for a designer to show us what they can do.
  • A revival of a great COC production!  How about War & Peace, so powerful & so accomplished just a few years ago.  Or maybe one of the Ring operas?  Das Rheingold would probably be the easiest from a talent stand-point, whereas the other three operas are much tougher sledding as far as finding the talent.
  • Louis Riel

    A double threat: an opera not just by Canadians, but an opera that tells us about a Canadian icon

    Ah but if we are really talking about a radical wishlist, there should be an opera by a Canadian composer somewhere on the list, whether it’s a new work or a production of an existing work.   Actually any Canadian opera that has been revived must be understood as a success, considering how many only manage a single production.  Louis Riel, Nigredo Hotel, Heloise and Abelard…. I can’t think of any other Canadian operas that have been produced multiple times.

And of course there would have to be something from the standard repertoire to balance it all out, ideally in a new production.

  • Mozart?  We’ve recently seen The Magic Flute, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni and Marriage of Figaro from the COC, so why not Clemenza di Tito or Abduction from the Seraglio?
  • Verdi? We’ve had recent productions of Rigoletto, Don Carlos, Aida, and Otello, all heavily dependent on a few key singers.  I’d love to see their Falstaff and Ballo again.
  • Puccini?  I suppose the one I am hoping for is Girl of the Golden West, admittedly another opera that can be difficult to cast.
  • Rossini?  Ah yes, this could be a promising composer to exploit, with so many fabulous compositions both popular and unfamiliar.

I’m going to post this, and then go to bed.  In the morning, I’ll see what Santa brings.  By the time anyone reads this, I suspect you’ll know what the COC are producing next year.

Cross your fingers.

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