LSM Newswire

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[Ottawa] 11th Black & White Opera Soiree


OTTAWA, January 15, 2008 -- The 11th annual Black & White Opera Soiree -- on Saturday, February 23 at 20:00 in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre -- showcases an all-Canadian cast of headliners, including internationally acclaimed opera superstars, tenor Michael Schade and baritone Russell Braun, and rising star, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal. The world of opera meets the world of pop music as host for the evening will be singer-songwriter Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies, a long-time friend and fan of Michael Schade. Giovanni Reggioli will conduct the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Michael Zaugg is the Chorus Master for the Opera Lyra Ottawa Chorus.

The Black & White Opera Soiree is presented by Bell, the founding sponsor of this annual fundraiser, in association with major sponsors EMC Canada and Vale Inco.

Both Michael Schade and Russell Braun have sung extensively in Austria. Indeed, Mr. Schade's career was launched in Vienna in 1991. He maintains an apartment in the centre of the city, has sung many of his most acclaimed roles there, and has appeared at the Salzburg Festival almost every year since 1994, always to great acclaim. The Black & White opera Soiree celebrates this unique connection by re-creating an enticing Viennese salon onstage in Southam Hall. Michael and Russell welcome their guests -- and the audience -- into the 'Gemˆºtlichkeit', or 'warm and friendly atmosphere,' of a uniquely charming Viennese parlour. Inviting furniture will be scattered about, the musical guests will remain onstage throughout the evening, and the Opera Lyra Ottawa Chorus, festively attired, will mingle among the singers.

Although some repertoire is still under discussion, much of the programming has been confirmed. The evening will feature familiar, soaring melodies from some of the most popular operas in the canon, including Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Rossini, Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), and Don Giovanni by Mozart, Carmen by Georges Bizet, Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr., and Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehˆ°r. Surtitles projected above the stage allow the audience to enjoy an aria's lyrics as well as the music.

The Barber of Seville deserves special mention, as Michael Schade and Russell Braun have made a specialty of recreating the outrageous high-comedy antics of opera's most famous barber; selections from Barber include 'Largo al Factotum' -- the famous 'Figaro, Figaro, Figaro' aria -- by Russell Braun, 'Ecco, ridente in cielo' a romantic aria sung by Michael Schade, and the saucy 'Una voce poco fa' performed by Lauren Segal. Ms Segal will also be featured in a selection from Carmen, Cherubino's yearning 'Voi che sapete' from Le nozze di Figaro, and romantic duets with both Michael Schade ('So kommen Sie' from The Merry Widow) and Russell Braun ('La ci darem la mano' from Don Giovanni and 'Lippen schweigen' from The Merry Widow).

Michael Schade, one of the leading Mozart tenors on the stage today, will perform Don Ottavio's showpiece 'Il mio tesoro intanto' from Don Giovanni. Russell Braun will perform 'Finch'han dal vino', the famous 'Champagne aria' from Don Giovanni and the sprightly 'O Vaterland' from The Merry Widow, and together they will sing the tenderly expressive 'Secondate, aurette amiche' from Cosi fan tutte.

Steven Page -- who will not attempt opera -- will join the soloists for some crowd-pleasing favourites from the pop repertoire.

The Opera Lyra Ottawa Chorus will be featured in the 'Humming Chorus' from Puccini's Madama Butterfly, as well as in excerpts from Die lustige Witwe and Die Fledermaus. The NAC Orchestra will shine in renditions of the overture and entr'acte to Die Fledermaus and familiar selections from Die lustige Witwe.

"Tenor Michael Schade, who has built his high-profile international career on a beautiful, strong voice coupled with powerful artistry, communicated the full drama of every text he sang."
Toronto Star, December 17, 2007

[Russell Braun as Figaro] "-- the manner more commanding, the handsome, burry voice more fully rounded, the handsome face and figure more pliantly expressive. Vocally and artistically, he seems to have reached an enviable point of equilibrium. Sexy and smart and fully his colleagues' peer in either high notes or low comedy...." Opera Canada, Summer 2007

"Š Lauren Segal consistently sang her part with power and a fine mezzo voice, capable of true expression and power." Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail, February 6, 2002

The Black & White Opera Soiree is an annual winter benefit for the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Opera Lyra Ottawa. Accessible and entertaining, the evening is a tantalising mix of fine food, high fashion, and some of the most beautiful music ever written. The Black & White Opera Soiree proudly showcases Canadian talent, with proceeds divided equally between the two arts organizations. Since its inception in 1998, the Soiree has contributed more than $1.8 million to help foster Canada's next generation of talented musical artists through training, mentoring, and showcasing.

The Black & White Opera Soiree takes place on Saturday, February 23, 2008 at the National Arts Centre.
o Soiree tickets are $325, which includes a cocktail reception, dinner, concert, and a post-concert party with the stars. Soiree tickets can be purchased through the NAC Foundation at 613-947-7000, ext.322 or at Opera Lyra Ottawa by contacting 613-233-9200, ext. 224.
o Concert-only tickets are $80, $70, and $55.

Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office (in person) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111; Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC's web-site at For more information on the event please visit the NAC website or

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Gerald Morris, National Arts Centre Karl Balisch, Opera Lyra Ottawa
613-947-7000, x249 613-233-9200, x229

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