LSM Newswire

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Series 2009


The much-anticipated performance of operas megastar Rene Fleming at Covent Garden is one of the many highlights of DigiScreens Summer Opera/Ballet/Concert Cinema Series, which will screen at selected theatres throughout Canada in July and August. Theatres will present an opera, a ballet and a classical music concert from the great stages of London, England.

The summer series opens on July 25th & 26th, when cinema audiences have the pleasure of experiencing, for the first time in Canada, the excitement of the BBCs LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS from The Royal Albert Hall in London.

On August 15th, Shakespeare meets Mendelssohn meets Balanchine at Sadlers Wells for the enchanting ballet A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.

Saturday August 29th and August July 30th will be Dont miss Rene Fleming at Covent Garden! days.

On Saturday July 25th and 26th, DigiScreen and the BBC present a first: Canadian audiences will finally experience the exuberance of LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS. The Proms at The Royal Albert Hall has a special place in the hearts of British people and all fans of classical music around the world. The September feast of music is the highlight of the symphonic season, which culminates with the hottest concert ticket in London, LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS! Lucky audiences are treated to the works of leading international artists and an all-embracing classical music programme, introducing new works alongside much-loved classics. Sir Roger Norrington makes his first Last Night appearance leading an all-star dazzling final concert.

On Saturday August 15th, select theatres across Canada will present the enchanting ballet A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM. Choreographed by an artistic genius, George Balanchine and performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Shakespeares comedy of magic and loves delusions set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn is a guaranteed audience pleaser. The Pacific Northwest Ballet displays all the vitality, brilliance and versatility of its wonderful dancers in this awardwinning production of Balanchines first original full-length ballet. Balanchines pure dance magic, Shakespeares stage wizardry and Mendelssohns bewitching tunefulness make for a special experience.

For two presentations only in August (29th and 30th), cinema audiences will be able to enjoy beloved American soprano Rene Fleming on Londons Covent Garden stage starring in The Royal Operas production of Verdis best-loved work LA TRAVIATA. Captured live by Opus Arte in London on June 30th, audiences will see her performance replayed in select theatres throughout Canada. Richard Eyres 2009 production is a revival of his highly acclaimed 1994 staging which dazzled audiences with its striking visual feast. Rene Fleming and company soar with some of the most poignantly tuneful music in all of opera.

Tickets are available at $19.95 + tax per adult, $16.95 + tax per senior and $9.95 + tax per child. For cinema locations and to purchase advance tickets throughout Canada visit For Landmark Cinemas in Alberta and BC, go to For independent theatres in Vancouver and Waterloo, please visit,

About DigiScreen Corporation

DigiScreen is a digital network for the distribution and presentation of independent film and alternative content. DigiScreen launched the network in 2007 with an exclusive collaboration with Opus Arte and the Royal Opera House in London. Thanks to this collaboration, the company is able to showcase the worlds most prestigious contemporary performing arts companies in an ongoing series of spectacular operas and ballets. These productions are captured live, in High Definition, from locations such as Covent Garden (London), Palais Garnier (Paris), Teatro Real (Madrid), Liceu (Barcelona), War Memorial (San Francisco) and other great stages of the world. DigiScreen Corporation, in partnership with Opus Arte, releases 16-20 HD productions throughout the year. These HD productions are presented exclusively by DigiScreen and its partners to audiences in more than 300 cinemas across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Australia. Presentations in South Africa and other territories will be starting shortly.

For photos, more information or to find a participating theatre near you, please visit or contact Blair Haynes, 514-847-3537 ext 4520

                      About The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House is the home of three world class performing companies - The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, and The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. It is a focal point for Englands national and international artistic excellence, where the evolving traditions of opera and ballet are taken to the highest levels. It is a shining symbol of excellence without compromise since 1732.

About Opus Arte

Opus Arte, owned by the Royal Opera House, has been recording in High Definition for the past decade and has amassed a substantial catalogue of outstanding productions from around the world. Opus Arte led the way by being the first company to release a Classical HD-DVD, and also the first to release a Classical Blu-ray disc into the world market. Working closely with top organizations such as the BBC and TVE, Opus Arte has enabled a large number of people to share the magic of seeing an opera or ballet from the worlds top opera houses.

About BBC Worldwide

BBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The company exists to maximise the value of the BBCs assets for the benefit of the licence payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights. The company has seven core businesses: BBC Worldwide Channels, BBC Worldwide Content & Production, BBC Worldwide Digital Media, BBC Worldwide Global Brands, BBC Worldwide Sales & Distribution, BBC Magazines and BBC Home Entertainment. In 2007/08, BBC Worldwide generated profits of 117.7million on sales of 916.3million.

For more about The Pacific Northwest Ballet, please go to:

For more about The Royal Opera House, please go to:

For more about Opus Arte, please go to:

Bravo! is the proud television sponsor for the DigiScreens Summer Cinema Series. For more information on Bravo! please visit

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

La Traviata Closes Edmonton Opera Season



Closes the 2008-2009 Edmonton Opera season

La Traviata, the heartbreaking and tragic masterpiece, closes Edmonton Opera's 2008-2009 season with Verdi's acclaimed score April 25, 28 and 30 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster, call 780-451-8000 or visit La Traviata is sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage.

Violetta Valry, the notoriously beautiful and vivacious courtesan, is the toast of glittering Paris salon-life. While Violetta hosts the French lite at a party celebrating her recovery from a recent illness, Alfredo, a young nobleman, confesses his long-time adoration of her. Preferring her freedom to the confines of a romantic relationship, Violetta at first rejects Alfredo's advances. She is soon persuaded by his romantic declarations, and the couple settles into life at her country home. Furious that his son's affair is disgracing the family, Alfredo's father, Germont, demands she let Alfredo go. Although her health is failing, Violetta, in the grip of consumption, rejects him at Germont's request, sending Alfredo into a jealous rage. Will the lovers reconcile before tragedy strikes?

"I am not alone in counting La Traviata as one of the greatest of all operas, for so many reasons," says Artistic Director Brian Deedrick. "The beauty of the piece, the richness of the characters, the glorious evocations of another time and the tissue-essential heartbreak make Traviata, a must-see for everyone."

Alberta-born soprano Laura Whalen, who last graced the city's stage as Filumena, sings the role of Violetta, with Qubec tenor Marc Hervieux as Alfredo, and Edmonton favourite Theodore Baerg as Germont. Thomas Macleay (Gastone), Doug MacNaughton (Douphol), Brian McIntosh (Dr. Grenvil), Krista de Silva (Flora), Alexander Dobson (Marquis d'Obigny) and Rene Brad (Annina) join Conductor Steven Osgood and past Edmonton Opera Artistic Director Michael Cavanagh in closing the opera season. The Edmonton Opera Chorus and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra lend their talents to this much-loved production.

All performances of La Traviata begin at 7:30pm and run at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Single tickets, which range from $28 to $160, are available at Ticketmaster at 780-451-8000 or visit For more information, please visit

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

EMI Classics Issue Six Operas from the Metropolitan Opera's Acclaimed Live in HD Series



Canadian release date: September 16, 2008

Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth

Tan Dun: The First Emperor (World Premiere)

Giacomo Puccini: La Bohme

Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes

Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut

EMI Classics will issue six operas on DVD produced by the Metropolitan Opera for its highly acclaimed series The Met: Live in HD. This September, five productions from the Met's 2007-08 season will be released, as well as the 2006 world premiere production of Tan Dun's The First Emperor. The releases further extend the reach of The Met: Live in HD, the groundbreaking series of live operas transmitted to movie theatres, arts centres and universities all over the world; next season, the series will expand to reach 800 venues and 28 countries. The 2008/2009 Met Live HD series broadcasts in Canada commence on September 22nd (for more information on this go to:

The operas include new productions of Hansel and Gretel, Macbeth, and Peter Grimes; the world premiere production of The First Emperor; La Bohme and Manon Lescaut.

The Met's critically acclaimed high-definition productions are directed by top creative talent from the film and television fields, who capture the intensity of live opera using cutting-edge technology, including vertical and dolly-tracked robotic cameras. During the intermissions, the cameras go backstage for interviews with performers and others involved in the production. The shows are hosted by such stars as Rene Fleming, Natalie Dessay, and the late Beverly Sills.

The audio is mixed with Dolby surround-sound encoding supervised by DTS. Each accompanying DVD booklet has notes and a synopsis in English. Each title also includes an electronic booklet in PDF form, which can be accessed from any computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat 6.0. This booklet contains notes and cast biographies in English, French, and German.

Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel
New Production
Sung in English with optional subtitles in French, German, Italian, and Spanish

The combination of the timeless Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Humperdinck's enchanting score, Richard Jones's intriguing new production, and a new English-language translation by David Pountney make this Hansel and Gretel appealing to audiences of all ages.

Hansel and Gretel are charmingly performed by Alice Coote and Christine Schfer. The children's parents are played by Rosalind Plowright and Alan Held. The Witch, written for mezzo-soprano, is sometimes sung by a tenor, in this production Philip Langridge in what was described by The New York Times as "a casting coup".

"In the pit, the brilliant young Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski Ķ. conveys the lyricism of this 1893 opera while never letting us forget that Humperdinck was a Wagner protg who filled this score with rich chromatic harmony and thick, dark orchestral colorings. Ķ [Mr. Jurowski] conducts a resonant and radiant performance." (The New York Times)

Describing the high-definition production shown in cinemas, The New York Times said, "All three acts are set in strange kitchens: the drab 1950s kitchen of Hansel and Gretel's impoverished family; an Expressionistic kitchen-dining room with leafy wallpaper to symbolize the forest where the siblings become lost; and an industrial-size, stainless-steel kitchen where the Witch bakes her child victims into gingerbread. Ķ The sophisticated camera work Ķ was especially impressive Ķ Subtleties of acting that barely register in the house came through movingly on screen."

In 1923, Hansel and Gretel became the first complete opera to be broadcast on radio from Covent Garden; eight years later it was the first to be broadcast from the Met.

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Rene Fleming interviews the Met's Technical Director Joe Clark; Christine Schfer and Alice Coote are interviewed live during intermission; and the feature The World of John Macfarlane, shows how set and costume designer John Macfarlane brought Hansel and Gretel to life.

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth
New Production
Sung in Italian with optional subtitles in English, French, German, and Spanish

eljko Lui, Maria Guleghina, John Relyea, and Dimitri Pittas star in a new production of Verdi's haunting early operatic masterpiece. Longtime Met Music Director James Levine conducts.

This is the Met's first production in 20 years of the first of Verdi's three operas based on Shakespeare's plays. It is "a stylistically eclectic, grimly effective and, at times, intriguingly playful production" (The New York Times) by the English director Adrian Noble, in his Met debut. Noble, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and set and costume designer Mark Thompson "mixed modern and melodramatic elements into this nearly black-and-white, modern-dress staging." (The New York Times)

At the time of its composition, Verdi's Macbeth was unique. Not only was it considered both musically and dramatically bold, but it was the first opera that could truly be described as Shakespearean. It was the first that altered operatic conventions to serve the play rather than converting the play into traditional operatic formulas. The Met performs Verdi's revised 1865 Paris version, minus the ballet he was obligated to write for that production.

After 33 highly successful years in charge of the company's musical forces, a relationship unique in the musical world today, the Met's Music Director James Levine conducts Verdi's haunting score with the intensity that this chilling work demands: "[Levine] conducts "Macbeth" as a Ķ supreme musical drama. Ķ Without diminishing the architectonic shape of the work, he is keenly sensitive to the vocal needs of the cast, ready in an instant to adjust the pacing, to coax the singer and orchestra musicians into beautifully coordinated execution of a lyrical phrase. The orchestra sounded terrific. In ruminative passages the string tone was Ķ velvety and nuanced Ķ [but] when red-blooded Verdian orchestral sound was called for, Mr. Levine summoned plenty of it. " (The New York Times)

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Met General Manager Peter Gelb interviews Music Director James Levine; Zeljko Lui, Maria Guleghina (Macbeth and Lady Macbeth) and director Adrian Noble are also interviewed; and a video blog shot during the rehearsal process is also included.

Tan Dun: The First Emperor
Met Commission/New Production
Sung in English with optional subtitles in French, German, Italian, and Spanish

"A majestic imperial Chinese saga...[Domingo] sang with stamina and burnished power." New York Times

Legendary tenor Plcido Domingo stars in this visually stunning opera by Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) to a libretto by the composer and Ha Jin, based on Historical Records by Sima Qian (c.14585 BCE) and on Wei Lu's screenplay, The Emperor's Shadow. The opera was commissioned by the Met in the mid-1990s and the spectacular production, which premiered in December 2006, was one of the most highly anticipated cultural events of the season.

The opera tells of Emperor Qin's quest for a national anthem for his new country and his ill-fated decision to force his childhood friend, a talented composer, to write it. Tragedy results following the composer's love affair with the emperor's crippled daughter. As Emperor Qin, Plcido Domingo leads an all-star ensemble in this epic story, which is ideally suited to the opera stage.

The First Emperor combines the expressive power of traditional ancient Chinese singing with the long musical lines of Italian opera. This juxtaposition of musical cultures illustrates Tan Dun's musical style, which merges East and West and ancient and modern sensibilities.

One of just six composers to conduct their own works at the Met, Tan Dun led all the performances of the first run of the opera.

The production was directed by the revered Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern, and director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics), who worked closely with Tan Dun while he composed the music.

The costumes were designed by Emi Wada, who won an Oscar for her work in the 1986 movie Ran. Over the course of a year and a half, Wada designed more than 600 striking and colourful costumes.

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Beverly Sills interviews Plcido Domingo, and a documentary film, Tan Dun's The First Emperor: In Rehearsal at the Met gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process.

Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Sung in Italian with optional subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish

The performance captured on this DVD marks the first on the Met stage in 18 years of the Met's classic production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Finnish soprano Karita Mattila performs the title role, conducted by James Levine. Chevalier des Grieux is played by Marcello Giordani, Manon's brother by Dwayne Croft and Geronte by Dale Travis.

Manon Lescaut, the French tale of a beautiful young woman destroyed by her conflicting desires for love and luxury, was Puccini's first successful opera and the work that thrust him into the international spotlight as Italy's foremost opera composer.

Mattila's performance is a career highlight, with The New York Times calling her interpretation "riveting". The soprano waited for her voice to gain maturity and richness before singing her first Manon Lescaut in 1999, when she was nearly 40. She now returns to the work, attracting James Levine to conduct it for the first time since 1981.

After 33 highly successful years in charge of the company's musical forces, a relationship unique in the musical world today, the Met's Music Director James Levine leads a fresh and intelligent performance. "Conceptually Mr. Levine seemed on the same page with his star soprano. He drew Italianate ardor and pliant lyricism from the Met orchestra yet conveyed the rhythmic intricacy, harmonic boldness and symphonic sweep of the music as well." (The New York Times)

"Ever willowy and ever inventive, Karita Mattila enacted the heroine's progress from gawky innocent to greedy charmer to tragic victim brilliantly. Ķ Marcello Giordani partnered her as golden-age Des Grieux, handsome and urgent in demeanour, suave in passages of introspection, glorious in outbursts of passion. Ķ The strong secondary cast included Dwayne Croft, a gratifyingly crafty Lescaut, Dale Travis, a stern Geronte who resisted buffo temptation, and Sean Panikkar, a sweet and sprightly Edmondo. Ķ [Levine] let the melodies soar." (Financial Times)

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Rene Fleming interviews Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, animal trainers and handlers Nancy and Paul Novograd, and the Met's Technical Director Joe Clark.

Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes
New Production
ICPN: 5099921741494 (1 DVD)
Sung in English with optional subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish

"The more vicious the society, the more vicious the individual." - Benjamin Britten, commenting on Peter Grimes after its premiere in 1945

Anthony Dean Griffey and Patricia Racette are gripping in this new Met production of Benjamin Britten's most celebrated opera, Peter Grimes. The multi-award-winning director is John Doyle, whose production of Sweeney Todd won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. The Financial Times described Doyle's direction of Peter Grimes as "an impeccable fusion of music and drama."

Peter Grimes, Britten's haunting seaside tale and his second opera, is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of postwar opera, and its premiere 63 years ago marked a turning point in the history of British opera. This "true operatic masterpiece of the 20th century" (The New York Times) is the first opera by an English composer to enter and remain in the international repertory. Peter Grimes is based on a poem entitled The Borough, by turn-of-the-19th-century writer George Crabbe set in an isolated English fishing village in the 1830s.

Much of the emotional drive of the opera comes from the four Sea Interludes calm, storm, at dawn and by moonlight. Among the most brilliantly evocative music that Britten ever wrote, they help to establish the constant, overpowering presence of the sea as the opera's dominant force.

Anthony Dean Griffey is "the leading Peter Grimes today" (Washington Post), and [his] "fascinating performance should not be missed" (Associated Press). Patricia Racette, as Ellen Orford, the schoolmistress who tries and fails to rescue Grimes from his anger and self-pity, is "sublime" (The Guardian). "The voice was vibrant, liquid, and exciting" (New York Sun). "A powerful cast, led by tenor Anthony Dean Griffey," writes the San Francisco Chronicle, "found the pathos and terror in Britten's score."

Donald Runnicles, Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, "drew an inspired performance from the Met Orchestra, full of passion and commitment yet free of bombast. Without slackening the dramatic tension, he found ways of drawing out both the music's austere lyricism and its violent extremes." (Boston Globe)

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Natalie Dessay interviews Anthony Dean Griffey and Patricia Racette (Peter Grimes and Ellen Orford), conductor Donald Runnicles, chorus master Donald Palumbo, and members of the creative team, including director John Doyle, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, and set designer Scott Pask. There is also a live BBC segment from Benjamin Britten's hometown of Aldeburgh.

Giacomo Puccini: La Bohme
Sung in Italian with optional subtitles in English, French, German, and Spanish

Angela Gheorghiu and Ramn Vargas lead a magnificent cast in Franco Zeffirelli's sumptuous and iconic production of Puccini's timeless masterpiece La Bohme. "[It] just might be the best investment the Met ever madeĶ Its magic shows no sign of diminishing." (Opera News Online)

Set in Paris around 1830, La Bohme depicts a love that blossoms between two young artists in a time that appears both bleak and turbulent that makes this story so very special.

Mim and Rodolfo, sung by Gheorghiu and Vargas, respectively, are charming as the young couple who fall in love. Ludovic Tzier and Ainhoa Arteta sing Marcello and Musetta.

Gheorghiu, one of the leading Puccini sopranos of our time, sings the role of Mim at the Met for the first time in twelve years. "[Gheorghiu] was superb as MimĶ distinctive and alluring. She sang with extraordinary precision, subtlety, control, nuance, and, above all, musicality" (New York Sun). "Ramn Vargas, as Rodolfo, produced a warm, buttery sound" (The New York Times). Conductor Nicola Luisotti is, "a man who knows what he is doing in this repertoire: the way he can control the orchestra to move with the singers' expressive tempo fluctuations is breathtaking, a quality which helps to show Puccini at his best" (

Franco Zeffirelli's stunning production is as beloved and magnificent today as the day it was first staged at the Metropolitan Opera more than 27 years ago. The April 5, 2008, broadcast of this production marked the 347th performance of Zeffirelli's La Bohme at the Met, making it the most performed production in the company's history.

Backstage at the Met Bonus Material: Rene Fleming interviews Angela Gheorghiu, Ramn Vargas and Met Technical Director Joe Clark, and a bonus feature, Zeffirelli at the Met, includes archival interviews and performance clips.

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