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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

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Egoyan, Girard, Levine and Albery Lead Canada's First Ring Cycle

By Wah Keung Chan July 31, 2002

The Canadian Opera Company announced its creative Dream Team for the first Wagner Ring Cycle in Canada.
Read the following Press Release.

For immediate release:

July 31, 2002


Toronto, Ontario — Today Canadian Opera Company General Director Richard Bradshaw announced the design and direction team for the premiere of Canada’s first Ring Cycle. The combination of extraordinary artists on the team is an enormous achievement for a Canadian opera company and is guaranteed to create a Ring Cycle unmatched in the world. Canadian film and theatre directors, Atom Egoyan and François Girard, Canadian designer Michael Levine, and Toronto resident, esteemed theatre and opera director Tim Albery, each direct one of the four operas that comprise the Ring Cycle, Richard Wagner’s monumental tetralogy (Der Ring des Nibelungen). COC General Director Richard Bradshaw conducts and Michael Levine designs the sets and costumes for all four productions.

"I am overwhelmed at the thought of such remarkable talent available to the COC," exclaimed Bradshaw. "It’s almost as if we have a Canadian operatic Dream Team! I cannot imagine a better and more fitting way to mount the first Ring Cycle in Canada than by entrusting it to the most exciting, intelligent and musical directors I can think of. And with Michael Levine at the design helm, the COC’s Ring Cycle is sure to be one of the most visually stunning productions ever."

Richard Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle has never before been produced by a Canadian opera company. The Cycle’s complicated and extraordinary production and musical requirements are huge challenges for most opera companies, but with today’s announcement of the directing and design team, the COC confirms its position as a leading creative force on the international stage.

Atom Egoyan directs Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), in the spring of 2004. Siegfried is directed by François Girard in the winter of 2005. Tim Albery makes his COC debut with Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods) also in the winter of 2005. Michael Levine makes his directorial debut with the majestic Prologue, Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), as part of the full Ring Cycle in 2006.

Although the four directors will be directing one opera each, their unique collaboration on the full cycle will draw from their shared experiences and inspirations as well as Michael Levine’s overall design. Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung will be performed in the COC’s current home, Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre, but three full Ring Cycles, including Das Rheingold, will be performed in the Company’s new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts during the 2005/06 season.

"The COC would never consider mounting the Ring Cycle, a production of enormous scale and importance, without an opera house that is equal to the task," enthuses Bradshaw. "It will truly be an historic occasion when we open the doors to the Four Seasons Centre, Canada’s first-ever opera house, with Canada’s first-ever Ring Cycle and we are tremendously excited by the project. It is the most complex musical and dramatic experience imaginable."

Michael Levine’s contribution to the success of the COC productions cannot be overstated. His theatre and opera designs have been called "breathtaking" (National Post), "absolutely beautiful" (The New York Times), and "astonishing" (Time Out London). Levine has designed seven operas for the COC: Idomeneo (1987), Wozzek (1990), Mario & the Magician (1992), Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung (1993) and Oedipus Rex with Symphony of Psalms (1997). His artistry and vision are without peer, and, with Das Rheingold, Levine makes his directorial debut. In addition, Levine will be designing both the sets and costumes for the entire Ring Cycle.

Atom Egoyan’s Salome, revived in the 2001/02 season by the COC, premiered in Toronto in 1996, and has also been produced by Houston Grand Opera and Vancouver Opera. Egoyan’s theatrical debut utilized his considerable filmmaking talent to create a bold, modern look at the ancient tale of lust and greed. Egoyan has also written the libretto and directed the opera Elsewhereless for Tapestry Music Theatre, and directed Dr. Ox’s Experiment for English National Opera.

Oedipus Rex with Symphony of Psalms, directed by François Girard, was a sensation when it premiered in Toronto in 1997. Extraordinary in both vision and scope, the show sealed the COC’s reputation for audacious and fresh new looks at operatic classics. With the production’s invitation to participate at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival in August, the COC’s international reputation will be enhanced as well. The production will be revived by the COC this fall.

British native and Toronto resident Tim Albery is renowned for his daring and intelligent productions for, among others, the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His 2001 staging of Prokofiev’s War and Peace for ENO received enthusiastic critical praise as a triumphant combination of "three and a half hours of gripping horror and beauty" ( one that "showed the company at its best" (The Guardian). Albery’s staging for the Scottish Opera of Die Walküre was invited to the Edinburgh International Festival last year and Siegfried has been invited to this year’s Festival. He returns to the Festival next year with Götterdämmerung.

The Ring Cycle is the largest production ever undertaken by the COC, entailing a total of four evenings — nearly 16 hours — of music, an expanded orchestra and augmented chorus. Although no Canadian company has ever produced the Ring Cycle before, a British touring company performed the cycle in Montreal in 1914 as part of a world tour that included Australia and South Africa. The tour garnered critical praise and rapturous crowds in all cities, but, interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, it never came to Toronto. The COC has produced three parts of the Ring Cycle in its history: Die Walküre in 1962 and 1971, Siegfried in 1972, and Götterdämmerung in 1973. The COC has never produced Das Rheingold.

The Canadian Opera Company’s Ring Cycle is presented by Kolter Property Company.

This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Culture.

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Ring Cycle artists’ bios and headshots are attached.

For more information, please contact:

Claudine Domingue, Senior Publicist, 416-306-2387, e-mail:

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