Canadians Abroadby Joseph So & Shira Gilbert
/ September 1, 2015
To the keen observer, Canadian singers are among our most important cultural exports. Each year, young graduates choose to leave home to make their mark on the opera world. Based on the most recent statistics of the 2014-15 season*, there were 215 opera performances of 47 productions in Canada. By contrast, in Germany alone there were a staggering 7,708 performances of 1,269 productions in the same period, almost 36 times that of Canada! No wonder many of our finest artists head to Europe to forge their careers.
To be sure, the current crop of Canadian singers abroad is very impressive. It’s impossible to name them all in such a short article, but the big names that come to mind include Gerald Finley, Adrianne Pieczonka, Barbara Hannigan, Karina Gauvin, Aline Kutan, Measha Brueggergosman, Joseph Kaiser, Russell Braun, Brett Polegato, John Relyea, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Lance Ryan, Michael Schade, Philip Ens, and Daniel Okulitch, just to name a few. While many of them occasionally sing in Canada, their careers are essentially based outside the country. There are also many fast-rising young artists – among them Jane Archibald who sings regularly in Munich, Covent Garden, and Paris; Allyson McHardy made a splash this summer in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Aix-en-Provence; David Pomeroy recently debuted in Copenhagen and Frankfurt; Phillip Addis a sensational Pelléas in Paris; Etienne Dupuis a frequent guest at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; and Joyce El-Khoury partnered star tenor Juan Diego Florez in a gala concert in her homeland of Beirut, Lebanon. Rather than working “free lance,” some artists choose to join an ensemble in opera houses – Wallis Giunta at Opera Leipzig, Yannick Muriel Noah at Theater Bonn, and Jessica Muirhead at Theater Essen.
Among the rising young artists, the career of baritone Elliot Madore is particularly noteworthy. Since winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2010 (I wrote an article on him at the time - http://bit.ly/MadoreMet) his rise has been meteoric. After graduating from the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann’s Young Artist Program, Madore joined the Zurich Opera Ensemble as a fest artist, and made his debut as Don Giovanni at the Glyndebourne Opera. This past July, Madore made his Munich Opera debut as Pelléas in a new production of Pelléas et Mélisande. In September, he makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Anthony in Sweeney Todd, and returns to Munich as Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos, preceded by a concert performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. In December, Madore returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Additional engagements for the new season include more Figaros at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, Spain, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette at the Santa Fe Opera. On the concert stage, Madore appears with Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges. - Joseph So
* Statistics from www.operabase.com
Abroad This Season
by Shira Gilbert
The Cecilia Quartet visits London this season
This fall, homegrown conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a new production of Verdi’s Otello, which opens the new season at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In addition to his busy concert seasons with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic – and of course Montreal – Nézet-Séguin makes guest appearances with the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras in early 2016.
Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi recently announced that he was joining the popular US-based string trio Time for Three. Chooi replaces founding violinist Zachary De Pue in the busy cross-genre ensemble, which records for Universal Music. Chooi’s upcoming season includes performances in Florida, Arizona, and Australia, in addition to an extensive tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.
The Cecilia String Quartet will head to London this season to perform Mozart and Mendelssohn at Wigmore Hall. The quartet was recently heard at the ClassicalNEXT music industry conference in Rotterdam, where it was part of Canada’s opening night programme.
In October, the Gryphon Trio makes two appearances at the Lviv Contrasts Festival in Ukraine. It will premiere a new triple concerto by contemporary composer Bohdana Frolyak, with the Lviv Academy Orchestra and conductor Volodymyr Syvokhip, and a chamber music program featuring both Ukrainian and Canadian composers.
Toronto’s TorQ Percussion Quartet continues to make inroads in several US states, with performances this season in Washington State, Ohio, and at the massive Percussive Arts Society International Convention in San Antonio, Texas, this November. TorQ’s 10th anniversary season last year included a 5-concert tour across Alaska.