Reflections on an interview

Shure_mikrofon_55SA couple of days ago Joseph So interviewed Alexander Neef about various aspects of the current situation in a session organised by the IRCPA.  Inevitably and appropriately it focussed heavily on the challenges facing performers; especially those at the beginning of their careers, but there were a couple or three things not related to that that really caught my attention.

The first was around the theme of “what does the opera world look like if and when we get back in the theatre?”  One part of this question that really wasn’t addressed was “will it be the same audience?”  Given the demographics of the current viral epidemic I really wonder whether the oldest section of the audience will come back; at least in the short/medium term.  Which is probably linked to a question that was addressed which was “will the financial impact of the crisis make companies program more conservatively?”  Alexander handled this pretty diplomatically (surprise!) by answering (more or less) “if we don’t make art, we cease to have a purpose” and saying there was a limit to how many times one could program standard rep, though to be honest I’ve never detected any such limit at the COC.  My guess is that we see an intensification of the trend already apparent under the pressure of long term decline in ticket sales.  That’s to say one or two marquee productions a season buttressed with unchallenging revivals of the Operabase top 20 but we shall see.  That’s been a formula that has, by and large, appealed to the traditional audience but if (big if) future audiences skew younger it may merely make things worse.

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A couple more on-line events.

Tomorrow at 3pm EST Jo So is interviewing Alexander Neef on a Zoom channel under the auspices of the IRCPA.  You need to register as space is limited.  The topics, how to register etc can be found at https://ircpa.net

On Friday May 29th at 8pm EST there’s another virtual event.  The vocal/piano du Chordless (Allegra Chapman and Sarah LeMesh) will be premiering a music video of George Crumb’s The Night in Silence Under Many a Star.  I’ve seen a short preview and I’m intrigued.  It will be followed by a Q&A on the theme of “How will digital media shape artists’ and audience’s performance experience, even beyond the pandemic era?”  Registration information is here

nightissilence.

Barbara Hannigan in conversation

Barbara-Hannigan-07750-photocredit-MarcoBorggreveLast evening I attended a session with Barbara Hannigan under the auspices of the IRCPA.  The format was an interview with William Littler followed by audience Q & A.  In many ways it was typical Hannigan.  She came across as smart, incredibly driven, analytical and with quite a wicked sense of humour.  This I have seen before and there wasn’t much about her work methods that added to the information in I’m a Creative Animal.

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IRCPA Singing Stars

The concluding concert of this year’s International Centre for Performing Artists Singing Stars program for this year took place last night at 96.3FM.  For the eleven singers it was the culmination of a day working with Adrianne Pieczonka and a lot of practice and I think that came through on the night.  In the various interviews during the show (it was being broadcast live), many of the singers remarked on Adrianne’s advice to be an artist, not just a singer (or something to that effect).  Certainly I felt there was less strictly correct singing and more effort to get inside the music and words than one often hears in  competitions.

sarasinging

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Competition news

The line ups for both the COC’s Centre Stage competition and the IRCPA’s Ten Singing Stars: The Next Generation have been announced.  The former, besides cash prizes, is also the principal route into the COC’s Ensemble Studio program.  The latter gets the winner an IRCPA Career Blueprint which includes three days at the National Opera Center in New York, new photographs, video and audio recordings, website consultation and mentoring with professionals.

At Centre Stage at the Four Seasons Centre on November 1st you can see:

  • Tenor Matthew Cairns of St. Catharines, ON
  • Soprano Vanessa Croome of Nanaimo, BC
  • Bass-baritone Aaron Dimoff of Owen Sound, ON
  • Bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian of Toronto, ON
  • Tenor Rocco Rupolo of Toronto, ON
  • Mezzo-soprano Jamie Groote of Oakville, ON
  • Soprano Andrea Lett of Humboldt, SK
  • Soprano Noelle Slaney of Gander, NL

This is a gala starting with a reception at 5.30 pm.  Tickets at coc.ca.

The IRCPA concert is on November 5th at 7.15pm at Zoomer Hall.  Tickets at http://ircpa.net.  The line up is:

Sopranos:  Tonia Cianciulli, Jocelyn Fralick, Beth Hagerman, Teiya Kasahara, Kathleen Promane, Sara Schabas, Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor

Mezzo-soprano:  Georgia Burashko

Tenors:  Zachary Rioux, John-Michael Scapin

 

Singing Stars: The Next Generation

Last night saw the culminating concert of the IRCPA’s Encounter program.  It wasn’t exactly a competition as the winner of the Career Blueprint Award had already been decided but not announced.  Still, it had the air of a competition with ten singers each offering an aria accompanied by the ubiquitous Rachel Andrist.  It was also being broadcast live on 96.3FM so we got the full on Zoomerplex treatment which is not far short of having flashing signs that say “Applaud Now!!”  It’s the price one pays for getting young singers media exposure I guess.

ircpacontestants

Best shot I could get. Most of the singers are visible.

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Encounter with Brett Polegato

modalAs previously noted the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists is once again running its program for young professional singers in Toronto.  The program is in two parts.  There was an “Encounter” (career workshop) with Brett Polegato on October 20th and there will be a concert at 7pm on November 6th at the Zoomerplex which will be broadcast by Classical 96.3.  Yesterday I spent some time talking with Brett about the program, its rewards and challenges and, inevitably, we drifted off into some broader issues about careers in the opera world.

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