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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

Remembering Richard Bradshaw

By Robert Pomakov / August 17, 2007

Late this afternoon, I was informed of the passing of Richard Bradshaw. I have dealt with death on numerous occasions in the past. My father passed away less than a year ago. On that occasion, Richard wrote these words to me, “Now, you must fulfill all he knew to be possible for you and which you are already achieving so wonderfully.”

Today, for the first time, I experienced indescribable emotions - the feeling of being in a void, unconscionable, inept - and lost.

In 1998, as a seventeen-year old student at St. Michael’s Choir school, I arranged for an audition with the Maestro. After hearing me, in the way only he could, he asked me, “What do you want from us?” So began my relationship or tutelage, with Richard and the Canadian Opera Company.

Soon, I was on the big stage with him and other world-renowned artists. I was only a young, naive boy, but he saw something. It was his eyes and ears that led him in making the company world-class. No matter how raw a talent he discovered, he would give that person a chance, and in many cases, several chances. Numerous colleagues have spoken to me about how Richard and the COC supported them in their years after school, when no one else would listen. Many of those singers are too busy to make it back to Toronto. Today, they are singing in the historic great houses of the world, but they all remember where, and who, gave them their start.

Nine years after I first met Richard, I have completed more than eighteen productions and close to one hundred performances with him. A performance with him was not always a technical marvel or a deep, profound, academic dissection of a score. It was simply - and in that simplistic genius - inspired. In an era of vanity and precision, Maestro made the theatre live and breathe. No performance was every the same, no tempo every copied, and no fermata ever calculated. A man of the theatre lives in the moment and for it. That is what Richard has taught me, and it is what makes our city love the opera. The hottest ticket in town springs from our desire to be inspired. We want to be moved, transported, and most of all touched, in a way that is beyond the average.

In this enormous loss for a company so unique in the world, we must remember that its father has left us a wonderful home -- perhaps the greatest in the world. The city has a theatre company that revolutionized the art of opera long before the Metropolitan invited fans to a movie theatre to watch an opera and eat popcorn. The Canadian Opera Company, Canada’s healthy crop of world-class singers, musicians, producers and designers - the artists - must continue down the tarmac which has been laid.

We must continue to innovate, revolutionize and inspire. “Now, we must fulfill all he knew to be possible for us and which we are already achieving so wonderfully.”

Robert Pomakov (bass, Canadian Opera Company, since 1998)

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