The case for a Canadian Opera Company

Monday night the Canadian Opera Company held their “Season Reveal,” a dramatic presentation whereby subscribers & guests were treated to a combination of announcements, musical performances & CGI to tell us the six operas coming in the 2019-2020 season. In the lobby of the Four Seasons Centre afterwards, on social media, in conversation, I heard comments pro & con in response to the announcement.  This long diatribe responds to some of those comments.

The COC announced plans to stage six operas. There are three new productions:

  • Puccini’s Turandot, directed by Robert Wilson
  • Dvořák’s Rusalka directed by David McVicar
  • Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel directed by Joel Ivany

In addition the COC offers 3 revivals:

  • Rossini’s The Barber of Seville directed by Joan Font
  • Verdi’s Aida directed by Tim Albery
  • Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman directed by Christopher Alden

I am especially excited about the three new productions (especially Robert Wilson), not so excited by the other three. While I really love the Font Barber we saw it quite recently. I am conflicted about the Aida and Dutchman, a pair of productions where the director / designer seem to be fighting the score, whereas Font’s exuberant Barber enhances and enlarges the work. I admire the theatricality of Font & his team.

Let me get to the reason for the headline, and excuse me if I seem to be repeating myself as I ask a series of questions. I think of myself as being out of step with the mainstream and with my fellow critics & bloggers, who likely don’t have the same perspective as mine.  Is the main objective of a company to present the best work possible, or are there other concerns? In addition to solvency I propose a nationalistic objective for the COC, one that I’ve heard muttered in passing but never articulated as a guiding principle.

First let me talk about the season, then we’ll get to the argument.

First in Turandot:
The part of Turandot is played by Tamara Wilson (wonderful singer) double with Marjorie Owens. Calaf is sung by Sergey Skorokhodov and Kamen Chanev. Liù is sung by Joyce El-Khoury (a Canadian) and Vanessa Vasquez. Timur is sung by Stefan Kocan. Ping is sung by Adrian Timpau, Pang by Julius Ahn, Pong by Joseph Hu. The Mandarin is sung by Joel Allison (a Canadian). The Prince of Persia is sung by Matthew Cairns (a Canadian).
Why are imports singing Ping, Pang & Pong? Why is Timur an import? I can think of Canadians who can sing these parts.

Next, in Rusalka:
Rusalka is Sondra Radvanovsky (Canadian resident and amazing singer). Vodnik is Matthew Rose and Stefan Kocan. I saw Canadian Robert Pomakov sing an excellent Vodnik in Montreal a few years ago. Ježibaba is Elena Manistina, Prince is Pavel Černoch, Foreign Princess is Keri Alkema (a singer I admire). First Wood Nymph is Anna-Sophie Neher (Canadian), Second Wood Nymph is Jamie Groote (Canadian), Third Wood Nymph is Lauren Segal (Canadian), Gamekeeper is Matthew Cairns (Canadian), and the Hunter is Vartan Gabrielian (Canadian).

Seeing a pattern yet? There’s a word for this. Insulting? Colonial? I recall from my childhood the way Canada was spoken of as a wasteland, indeed I recall New Yorkers arrogantly dismissing the COC in the 1990s when we were at times doing far more adventurous things than they: except they didn’t know it.

Let me continue.

For Barber of Seville:
Figaro is Vito Priante, Rosina is Emily D’Angelo (a Canadian), Almaviva, Santiago Ballerini, Bartolo Renato Girolami, Basilio, Brandon Cedel, Berta, Simona Genga (a Canadian), Fiorello Joel Allison (Canadian), Officer, Vartan Gabrielian (Canadian).

For Hansel and Gretel the pattern changes:
Hansel is Emily Fons, the lone foreigner, Gretel is Simone Osborne (Canadian), Peter is Russell Braun (Canadian), Gertrude is Krisztina Szabó (Canadian) and The Witch is Michael Colvin (Canadian).

And then we’re back to that funny pattern again for Aida:
Aida is Tamara Wilson (wonderful) Radames is Russell Thomas (wonderful), Amneris is Clémentine Margaine (especially wonderful), Amonasro is Roland Wood, Ramfis, Goderdzi Janelidze, King of Egypt, Richard Wiegold, The Messenger is Matthew Cairns (Canadian), the Priestess Simona Genga (Canadian).

And for Flying Dutchman, again:
The Dutchman Vitalij Kowaljow, Senta Marjorie Owens, Daland Dmitry Ulyanov, The Steersman Miles Mykkanen, Mary Ewa Płonka, Erik Michael Schade (Canadian)

If the only Canadian singers were graduates from the Ensemble Studio –and in case you’re wondering, there are lots and lots of good singers who either failed to get into the Studio or didn’t even try—even then, there are loads and loads of talented singers to choose from who can sing those roles sung by foreigners.

Are the Canadians more expensive than the foreigners being hired? OR in other words, is the COC saving money by bringing in non-Canadians to sing the King of Egypt, Amonasro or Mary or the Steuermann (we heard the hardest part of the role sung by Owen McCausland–a Canadian– Monday night  by the way) or Don Basilio (sung by Canadian Robert Gleadow last time)? No, I’d think that in fact the Canadians are likely cheaper.

Are the Canadians as good as the foreigners? That depends on who you hire. For some roles you must go with the import. But there are good Canadians, without question. They’re singing all across the country with other opera companies, and even in Europe.
I bring this up because after a few excellent and encouraging seasons when I thought the COC was becoming more Canadian in its casting protocol, this season appears to be a big step backwards. For some roles the imports are great. I love Russell Thomas & Tamara Wilson. But while I am sure Roland Wood will be capable, I also like Canadians James Westman or Neil Craighead (who are merely the first two I thought of, as I am sure there are others who can sing the role). I don’t know the man singing Figaro this time but we did well with Joshua Hopkins last time (as well as Gordon Bintner & Andrew Haji in the ensemble cast). If you’re bringing in exceptional stars, all well and good that they be foreign imports. For other secondary roles such as Ping, Pang & Pong, Mary in Dutchman, Daland, the Steurmann…? Why hire foreigners for the small parts?

Now in fact there are Americans I really like that haven’t been back after impressive appearances. First and foremost was Kelly Kaduce, an amazing Butterfly, who sang Rusalka in Montreal, possibly the finest actor I’ve seen in an opera in the past decade. And in NY I saw Adam Klein sing Loge in Lepage’s Das Rheingold, adept at the wall-walking required of the role, and a spectacular actor. And then there’s Keri Alkema and Tamara Wilson and Russell Thomas, three amazing talents we will see next year. If they must bring in an American please let it be someone like these three, or the other two I mention.

But pardon me, there are literally tons of good Canadian singers. We make great hockey players and comedians and curlers in this country, and also opera singers. Per capita we’re an amazing place for opera & music. Some of these singers are making a huge impact abroad. I will come back to this in a moment.

But there are two related things to observe.
1) America is not as open as it once was. Was it ever open? Canadians have reported being shut out from the US organizations / companies whereas the doors were open before: at least for chorus and comprimario roles. Whether it’s Mr Trump’s impact, or perhaps he’s just a pretense, this is not a level playing field, not nearly, when –as far as we can tell—the COC appears to prefer imports.
2) I heard long ago that the COC actually has a charter. Maybe it doesn’t mean much? But it allegedly says that the COC is to hire Canadians whenever possible, to provide work & training for them. While the COC’s Ensemble Studio does serve a huge role in this: they’re essentially cheap labour who are cut loose after their brief term is over. It’s great training, to be sure: but there’s little sign of a commitment to casting Canadians: especially in this coming season’s offerings. I remember Berta from the last Barber, sung by Aviva Fortunata (a voice I miss).

So Canadians are allowed to sing the Prince of Persia—who sings one loud pathetic bleat of “Turandot” —before he gets his head chopped off.


Alexander Neef (Photo: Gaetz Photography)

Ha after writing this maybe COC Artistic Director Alexander Neef will offer me the role! Chop BARCZA’s head off! But also, what about David Pomeroy as Calaf? Or James Westman as Ping? Or any number of Canadian tenors as Pang or Pong? I saw Ryan Harper sing a splendid Ferrando in a Cosi fan tutte several years ago, why must they bring in an American yet again..?

As I was saying there are really a lot of talented singers out there, young and old. If you simply think back you can remember lots of people as I did without really searching, just remembering recent conversations on Facebook. I miss Virginia Hatfield, formerly of the ensemble studio (I saw her on social media yesterday). Rebecca Caine is a wonderful performer & singer (I’m a fan). This is me brain-storming now, btw. There are so many performers I could name, famous and not so famous. I have to return my Onegin score to the library which has English text (so I sing not “kuda kuda” but “oh where oh where”….), that reminds me of Natalya Gennadi who not only sings beautifully but could coach me on my Russian. Someday perhaps we’ll hear Vasilisa Atanackovic, a wonderful young talent. There’s Lance Ryan, the helden-tenor seen in a DVD of Les Troyens, making a big splash in Europe. But Ryan Harper (haha see the word-association?) is also a very good tenor, who appeared in Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen directed by Alaina Viau, opposite Cassandra Warner. I haven’t seen Warner lately, and it breaks my heart that Harper isn’t singing so much, as there’s not enough work. It’s not because of a lack of talent. There really isn’t enough work for everyone but it’s exacerbated if the small parts are given to foreign performers. And yes there are many brilliant Canadian directors. I’m still impressed by the prescience Alexander Neef showed in hiring Peter Hinton for Louis Riel. And there are many other Canadian directors. Alaina Viau, Ken Gass, Aria Umezawa..? Pardon me, there are so so many. If that COC charter means anything the company should begin with the aim to cast and run its shows 100% with Canadians onstage & backstage at least as a goal. Yes we do need stars to come in especially if no one from Canada can sing the role. By all means bring in a Christine Goerke, a Russell Thomas, a Tamara Wilson. They’re wonderful. I loved Tamara’s work in Die Fledermaus a few years ago opposite Ambur Braid, who alas is missing this year after being the best thing about Hadrian. I think of that Falstaff with Gerald Finley (a great Canadian artist), alongside so many other talents, including Russell Braun, Simone Osborne, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Colin Ainsworth and Robert Gleadow: all Canadians. Yes we’re seeing Braun & Osborne this year, but not Lemieux, Ainsworth nor Gleadow. I miss Geoffrey Sirett , not just the star of The Overcoat, but a most intriguing presence onstage in a tiny role during Arabella last year. Sirett is a curious demonstration of what a mature performer can bring to the COC stage. The Ensemble Studio performers are usually too young to have much gravitas on stage, which is fixed when you have a complete performer such as Sirrett or for that matter Ryan Harper, who is a gifted actor.

And later this year things will change if Andrew Scheer replaces Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. No I don’t mean that Scheer will come see an opera and sneer at Regietheater or talk about artistic elites and their wine the way Mr Harper did (I’ve blacked it out… feel free to correct me on the precise quote… but I prefer to forget him altogether). As with Stephen Harper the support for the arts will dwindle. The CBC will be cut and the Canada Council will be cut. I am surprised that the arts organizations haven’t asked these tough question of the COC, to insist that the money be spent in ways relevant to Canadian tax-payers.

Meanwhile there are other opera companies. Marshall Pynkoski and David Fallis at Opera Atelier put on a first class show that is above all Canadian. Ditto for Joel Ivany and Topher Mokrzewski at Against the Grain. You donors who might be reading could consider whether the company you’re supporting is helping your country & its artists. This season is all very well, but is the company building for the future? And the granting agencies could make things a little tougher for companies such as the COC by asking them to be true to their charter, loyal to the taxpayer.

Later this week I’m looking forward to seeing Canadians onstage in Cosi fan tutte at the Four Seasons Centre: Tracy Dahl, Kirsten MacKinnon, Russell Braun & Emily D’angelo (the latter two so spectacular Monday in a duet from the Barber of Seville, I can’t wait to see them in Mozart this time).

Meanwhile in the background is the conversation at home about our COC subscription renewal. She loves Turandot and she’s a big fan of Joel Ivany & Against the Grain, so she’ll certainly want to see Hansel & Gretel. For her there’s no big interest in Wagner, while Aida without elephants or ancient Egypt is an oddity. And yet the COC is still a great night out.  Of course we’ll renew.

But wouldn’t it be interesting if there were more Canadians up there onstage..? One can only hope.

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19 Responses to The case for a Canadian Opera Company

  1. I’m with you in wondering why the plethora of imports for roles Canadians could sing. Often, indeed, roles that union rules bar Canadians from in the US. I want to see the best international stars headlining at the COC but why bring in who Whothehell Anonovic or Luigi Que for relatively minor supporting roles?

  2. Jackie Short says:

    Thank you for writing this. Unfortunately this state of (foreign) affairs has been established for as long as I can remember. Certainly when I was a young singer the whiff of “those who come from away must be hired” was true. There are some fantastic singers, conductors and directors who are essentially shut out and inexplicably some poor albeit ‘famous’ ones who are routinely brought back. You named a scant few of the singers who could easily portray any and all of the roles for the next season. I’m sure between us we could actually cast the entire season. I realize there are schedule conflicts that occur, but the fact that the CANADIAN opera company relies on so much Eastern European talent (probably for $$ reasons) is sad and for this old singer, predictable. I completely agree with you that bringing in a big name singer/director/conductor is a wonderful opportunity for the audience but how about featuring and celebrating our fabulous home grown talents?

    • barczablog says:

      Thank you for your remarks & the kind words. I think you’re reading my mind and indeed identifying something fundamental to the role of the critic when you say “between us we could actually cast the entire season”: because of course hahaha we are vicarious, wishing we could shove the Alexander Neefs aside and take over, when naturally they’re the ones doing the work and putting themselves on the line. We must (the critics I mean) strive to be fair and gentle, because singers, artists, and yes, the impresarios and artistic directorship, put themselves on the line.

      But I think there’s a balance that can be struck. I simply sought to ask: does anyone speak to that old COC charter and what it stands for? That’s what I wanted to raise, as part of a balanced conversation, that indeed should include not just singers but also directors, and questions of inclusivity (gender, LGBTQ, race and more).

      But thanks for speaking up!

    • “I realize there are schedule conflicts that occur, but the fact that the CANADIAN opera company relies on so much Eastern European talent (probably for $$ reasons) is sad and for this old singer, predictable.” Why is this sad, Jackie Short? Prejudiced much? First of all, it’s not true. You’d have to show me 1) the pattern that over the years Canadian companies have been over-relying on East Europeans, and 2) you’d have to have some proof that they are paid less than industry standards, and that 3) they are hired for that reason, not because *gasp* somebody sometimes wants to hire an EE singer. By the way I suppose you wouldn’t want to hear Netrebko, Beczala, Garanca, Kozena, Gruberova, Ewa Podles, Goran Juric, Zeljko Lucic, Sena Jurinac etc etc on Canadian stages, I suppose? Imagine saying such a thing about Asian singers or African singers? “Look at all these Asians that our orchestras are hiring!? They’re undercutting musicians’ wages AND taking jobs away from Canadians.” Can you imagine making that argument?

      Leslie: you’d have to look at the multiple seasons to make an argument that the COC is not hiring enough Canadian singers. How about the last decade, for example? And a lot of past seasons had–to my taste-TOO MANY Canadian singers. There was Jane Archibald, Adrianne Pieczonka, Sondra Radvanovsky, Russell Braun and Erin Wall every season, pretty much. All fine singers, but should we watch them season after season? There is no reason. Some of us prefer variety–artistic AND national–to nationality and correct papers. I don’t care what passport a singer holds, believe it or not. We are not a small operatic culture forever in need of protection and kid gloves and special treatment. The COC is global player now, hiring singers and directors (to a lesser degree conductors, but they’re getting there) that are hired at the Met, in Paris, in Berlin, in London. A global player plays globally, and trains Canadian singers that are in turn hired in those centres. And that’s how it should be.

      As for the nurturing of Canadian talent, I think they’re doing a good job of that with their Ensemble Studio. Although they audition in the US too, usually all the singers chosen are Canadian. They look after them and equip them with what they need for not only national but international careers. Would it be nice to have another, smaller stage where the house could experiment more, and hire younger, less established singers, like the late NYCO did? Absolutely. But that’s a different question – of funding primarily. Where are all Canadian nationalists when taxes need to be raised on property to pay for additional things that make life better? Who do we vote for and what do we want of our representatives, do we ask them where they stand on funding for the arts? How about we tell them we’re unhappy that opera tickets are so expensive and what they plan to do to increase the subsidy to reduce the prices? Now there’s a nationalist cause I can get behind. More investment in more arts organizations which can hire more Canadian artists more frequently.

      So I can’t say I agree with this approach of looking at the announced season and dividing singers by nationality. It’s the “they’re coming over here and taking OUR jobs” argument and I have zero time for xenophobia. Zero.

  3. On an adjacent topic, I would also add: why are all the stage directors men? Not a single woman director for any of the shows? I find that pretty inconceivable. I don’t know who is conducting each of the operas but are any of the conductors women? There are great women directors and conductors, Canadian and otherwise. Opera has always been an international art form and I think it is important that it remains so, as much as possible with foreign policy from the U.S., Brexit etc. but I agree that there is a plethora of talent to be displayed at home.

    • barczablog says:

      Why indeed? that’s why I mention Alaina & Aria, two brilliant directors in the same breath with Ken Gass & Peter Hinton. I hope this conversation can raise the bar, enlarge our aspirations and perhaps reach the ears of the great & powerful ones.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Opera Fan says:

    The smaller companies in Canada can afford some of the best Canadian talent for each production–with a budget that is a fraction the size of the COC’s. Unfortunately, due to the COC’s affliction with hiring Canadian singers, this Canadian talent pool is left with only a few options:

    1) Move to Europe to find consistent work.
    2) Receive nominal income from performing one or two shows at smaller Canadian companies and maybe a small part at the COC. Even this is barely enough money to survive.
    3) Quit singing and get a job that can guarantee a livable income.

    The Canadian Opera Company has enough cash in their budget to continue fostering Canadian talent, all while bringing in a big name European/American ringer when needed to appease the audience. It’s a shame that they’ve continued to run with the current casting model and are in-turn actually destroying the future of opera in this country.

    • barczablog says:

      Interesting commentary! thanks… And I think there are weaknesses in the status quo purely as a business model, let alone as a pathway towards the proper stewardship of talent in this country across generations & multiple provinces. Picture this. Wonderful as some of Alexander Neef’s choices have been (I admire many of the COC’s shows) , I wonder if we can imagine a COC run by a Canadian, because (naturally) someday Neef will leave (Peter Gelb’s successor?). Will Neef’s successor at the COC be another import, someone who needs to be persuaded that Canadians aren’t an inferior brand? Wouldn’t it be interesting if the COC were run by someone who arrives with a mission: to promote Canada and its talent pool. Is that day 5 years or 15 years or 30 years away?

      We shall see.

      • Jessica Muirhead says:

        A little devil’s advocate here… As a Canadian singer who lives and works almost exclusively in Europe, I have to say I am grateful to companies who *don’t* only hire their own citizens. Can you imagine if the Deutsche Oper Berlin only hired Germans? The Paris Opera only French? The Canadian Opera Company is on THIS level, and aren’t we lucky to have an opera company which has this kind of international reputation.
        I also like to see that they don’t all have to be Met stars to come and sing in Toronto. Why do we have to hear the same small group of singers all the time, all over the world?

      • barczablog says:

        A little devil’s advocate is welcome, thanks for the commentary Jessica. It’s all a matter of finding a balance. Yes I invoke the COC charter which is extreme. But the company for this season seems to have swung to the other option. I recall in Mansouri’s era some brilliant shows, but also casts including mediocre Americans & terrible Europeans. To put it bluntly, if we’re to watch someone mediocre or terrible, let them be Canadian: because at least we’ll be helping them get better, at least they’ll be getting work.

        Now of course here’s the ultimate devil’s advocate position. Do the math. How many grads come out of opera programs each year (whether in USA or Canada or anywhere else)? How many jobs are there? So at the best of times there’s not many jobs. To suggest the COC –with 6 shows a year– can somehow fix this? impossible. My post was not logical, it was a rant, it was a lament.

        And it was a challenge. Stratford Ontario is no longer the colonial outpost it once was but a centre of excellence. They got there by making some hard choices. Now in fact I wonder if you, Jessica, are fully aware of how it really works elsewhere..? I can’t pretend to be a successful star but I have had a lot of confirmation (private messaging) telling me that there isn’t the free flow of talent internationally that there once was, that there are obstacles in several countries (named in Europe) who aren’t even giving people a chance. Perhaps it depends on other factors such as representation or linguistic skills..? I congratulate you that you’ve managed to do well certainly cause for celebration.

        Thank you for your comments!

  5. Canadian Opera Singer says:

    I want to praise the COC before I damn them. There are so many things the company is doing right. World-class productions and co-pros. World-class soloists like Tamara Wilson, Christine Goerke , Alice Coote, Thomas Hampson, Karita Mattila, not to mention bringing in top Canadians Sondra Radvanovsky & Gerald Finley – these would have been inconceivable “gets” for the company 15 years ago, one that highlighted the legendary talents of whatever anonymous singers from the Central Asian steppes were cheap and loud enough. These productions are putting our national company back on the international map and I celebrate the uplifting the art form in this way.

    However, the trade-off for these successes seems to be in the wholesale importation of lesser foreign talents to fill out supporting and now even small roles and covers. I suspect this is part of the Faustian bargain with the Mephistophelian managers of the big-name singers: “You want so and so for this lead role? Then you’re going to have to take this underworked singer on the same roster for the smaller role.” or “You want a break on the fee for this major star? Then you’ll have to take this lesser light as well.” If I were casting, perhaps I too would make those deals to get the singers I really wanted for pivotal roles. But you are right in saying, Leslie, that the COC has a larger role to play in developing Canadian talent AT ALL LEVELS. Beyond the Ensemble Studio and bringing Canada’s international superstars home. The COC also needs to foster the development, employment and experience-building of Canada’s own supporting players, budding stars, emerging professionals, directors, composers, designers, etc. And it has a sacred duty, one it has been notably shirking, to reflect Canadian gender and racial diversity on its stages and in its rehearsal rooms – and if it finds the level of homegrown talent in this area of concern wanting to actively work to build up the capacity of these communities to contribute to the COC story. We want our own Russell Thomases, Laquita Mitchells and Larry Brownlees to celebrate.

    Opera de Montreal and Opera de Quebec actively work to build and sustain a Quebecois star system at all levels of casting. Other Canadian and foreign stars are brought in as needed. This policy not only keeps local singers employed but sells tickets – something the COC has fast been losing steam. People like to see singers whose names they recognize and have watch grow and develop with the company. A constantly changing cavalcade of forgettable foreigners does nothing to build a relationship with an audience. Imagine if the National Ballet tried that – there would be an audience revolt! Half the fun of subscribing is seeing the big stars alongside names of dancers that regular patrons have watched grow from childhood. Looking at a season announcement and seeing a majority of names you’ve never heard of before doesn’t inspire confidence.

    And there is a practical consequence to not hiring Canadians at all levels. A COC contract is worth 2 or even 3 contracts at a regional company. The comparative disparity is probably greater as the size of the role increases. While its just another gig for a foreign artist, it can mean the difference between having a sustainable career as a professional artist in Canada or not. Far too many Canadian talents are throwing the towel in before their voices fully bloom to sell cars or go into real estate. And for a Canadian singer, not having the COC on your resume or list of recent credits, frankly raises eyebrows in the rest of the world – “Why should we cast this person when they can’t even manage to get work at their own national opera company? What’s wrong with them?” Not hiring us at home, devalues our work in the wider world of opera in a way that no flattering mention in Opera Canada magazine can repair.

    I am glad that our National Opera seeks out the best talent in the world to bring to our stage to tell our stories. I’m glad that our National Opera company seeks to carve out a wider international profile. But the balance between doing that and fostering Canadian talent in every corner has been off for quite a few years now and seems to be headed in the wrong direction. I would not ascribe overly-ambitious motivations to the choices being made by COC brass these days because that’s not entirely fair, nor is it true. But I would express a strong hope and desire that, if and when Mr. Neef does move on to bigger and brighter things as he seems destined to do, his successor will not only be Canadian (because it’s WAY past time for that to happen) but that a more concentrated and holistic approach to developing Canadian talent, Canadian compositions, Canadian musicians and conductors, Canadian Directors, and Canadian technical and production design capacity will emerge. What does that look like? I don’t know. But I know it can’t start without hiring and trusting more Canadians to work at and create for their own national company.

    • barczablog says:

      I thank every contributor regardless of whether we’re in agreement and grateful for the attention. But for this one I lean more towards love and admiration, for a really bold bit of writing. Thank you very much for enlarging the conversation.

      Remember when David Pomeroy’s face was on the building for a production of Butterfly starring a pair of import Pinkertons? Sadly there are others in Toronto who could have played the part if David was busy singing Tannhauser somewhere. Remember Ernesto Ramirez’s substitution in Roberto Devereux a few years ago? He’s a fabulous tenor we should be hearing (arguably they owe him!). I mentioned Ryan Harper, whose Don Jose & Ferrando were as good or better than the imports.. There’s Adam Luther. There’s Andrew Haji. And there are lots of others I could cite. Lance Wiliford, Colin Ainsworth, and more. This is me off the top of my head, not doing research. DITTO in other fachs, indeed, the baritone and bass pool is very deep indeed. Excuse me for only speaking of a few of the men, and not even talking about women singers, or women directors (I touched on a couple of names in passing) let alone persons of colour, Indigenous artists…. Pardon me… I thought that posting would help me get something off my chest after hearing so much quiet muttering from friends & acquaintances. But I don’t think one can put the tooth paste back in the tube. I really need a distraction. Luckily I’m going to a happy play tonight to cheer myself up. Something about a prince from denmark… hamlet.

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