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The Rubies - The 5th Annual Opera Canada Awards

By Dean Jobin-Bevans / October 17, 2004

On Wednesday, October 13 at The Granite Club in Toronto, Opera Canada held the Fifth Annual Rubies awards in recognition great achievement in the world of opera. This year’s recipients included conductor Mario Bernardi, mezzo-soprano Judith Forst, and bass Joseph Rouleau, three vocal luminaries who each in their own way have made a tremendous mark on music in Canada. Tributes and felicitations to each of the honorees were read from all over Canada and Europe by Marina Arroyo and Lotfi Mansouri, two great artists in their own right and the hosts for the evening.

As each recipient addressed the capacity audience, sharing short vignettes about their experiences in the opera business, a common thread was their humility and thankfulness for the privilege of being able to actualize a passion as a career. Maestro Bernardi observed that "in a world where it is more and more about the ego of conductor and stage director, we must not forget that it is the singer that gives us opera". The unassuming Judith Forst was grateful for the support of her friends and family without whom "I couldn’t have done this career alone". The theme of family resonated in the words of Joseph Rouleau who admitted: "life has been good to me", but that for him his career was really about "family, family, family".

The Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus opening the festivities conducted by Ann Cooper Gay, accompanied by Errol Gay, and continued with the traditional serenading of the awardees by baritone James Westman honouring Mario Bernardi, baritone John Avey, honouring Judith Forst and soprano Frédérique Vézina honouring Joseph Rouleau, accompanied at the piano by the capable Steven Philcox.

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