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education

– Presents –

YOUR

GUIDE TO

Die Fledermaus Special thanks to:


Contents

Special thanks to our education community partners:

Director’s message | 3 Characters | 4 Synopsis | 5 Composer | 7 Program notes | 8 Operetta, librettists & additional resources | 10 Q & A | 11

Nothing beats the excitement of live opera! For more information on how your class can attend a dress rehearsal at special student pricing, contact us by email at education@edmontonopera.com or visit us online at:

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New to opera? Be sure to check out our Educator's Guide, Your Guide to Opera, available for free download online. It is designed to supplement this guide and offers an overview of the history of opera, activities for your class, and useful information about attending our dress rehearsals. 2


The characters are childish, petulant and downright grasping. Yet, they all have enormous charm and we forgive them these very human traits. Strauss’ music lifts them far beyond the humdrum quality of every day survival. It makes us laugh, sing and thrill with the wild twists of the plot, and of course, go out humming the tunes. “Bitterness must turn to bliss in sweet forgetfulness…” as Alfred and Rosalinde sing to each other in Act 1.

Director’s message Allison Grant

There are innumerable dialogue scripts written in the past 130 years for the director to choose from; all of them long, creaky and windy. Luckily we have a new script written with wit and brevity by the excellent Michael Albano; a fine director, teacher and librettist who has presented this version at opera companies across Canada and the United States. This version focuses on the storytelling in a modern and direct fashion. It is a terrific story, and like all good stories it ends with a certain redemption, self knowledge and forgiveness which is much deeper than the “we acted badly because of the champagne” attitude which Orlofsky presents at the end of the show.

Many years ago when I first visited Edmonton Opera, I was an assistant director on Die Fledermaus. It was my first experience on “the other side of the table” where I was part of the creative team, instead of one of the performers. It was the year that Edmonton hosted the World Skating Championships and excitement in town was high. The director of that production, an old friend from my performing days, was the innovative Kelly Robinson. He decided to set the second act in an ice palace. There were young skaters from the Royal Glenora Club swirling around serving drinks to the guests at Orlofsky’s party and Toller Cranston made a surprise visit dressed as a bizarre bat on skates. It made for a lively rehearsal period and the principals were game to perform the entire production on a sheet of glare ice. Mr. Cranston said it was like skating on cardboard, but he enjoyed the novel experience of being in an opera. Always the innovator, Toller Cranston was the artist who paved the way for Elvis Stojko, for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, for Patrick Chan; making skating more than just a sport, but an unparalleled expression of artistic endeavor.

As I write this we are in the midst of our first day of rehearsal. The questions that have caused me a few sleepless nights — “Will there be a wonderful chemistry between our Rosalinde and Eisenstein?” “Will it be a fun-loving, energetic company?” “Will the voices be up to this effervescent but challenging score?” — have immediately been put to rest. The rehearsal hall rings with laughter, with gloriously fine voices, with the hysterical jokes of Gordon Geitz and with the glamorous and elegant singing of Betty Waynne Allison and Jacqueline Woodley. In addition to these great singers we highlight the experience and talents of the fine Edmonton Opera Chorus who do double duty in this opera as singers and dancers in the party scenes.

This season we present a production of Die Fledermaus, alas without the stage of imitation ice, but with a vibrant, exciting company of young, mostly Canadian singers.

Join us, with a glass of champagne, on the stage of the Jubilee, for an effervescent evening to brighten our long February nights. A glittering entertainment sure to suit everyone’s taste. As Orlofsky sings, “Chacun à son goût!”

There is a tricky side to Fledermaus. It was written the year after the Vienna stock market crash, in 1874. It was meant as a vehicle of escapism but there is a shadowy underbelly to the piece for all its frothy tunes. It was first and foremost a scathing portrayal of a particular slice of Viennese life. It is rich with social satire.

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Characters Prince Orlofsky | countertenor A Russian prince who is bored with everything life has to offer. He feels that he has experienced everything and longs for something new to excite him. He throws lavish parties where he and his guests drink lots of champagne.

Dr. Falke | baritone A notary, Eisenstein’s friend, drinking companion and the title character of the opera. He is an extremely clever man and the puppet master of the evening’s drama, having weaved an elaborate scheme of revenge against Eisenstein. It’s payback for when Eisenstein abandoned a drunken Falke after a costume party the previous winter, leaving Falke dressed as a bat in the middle of town.

Alfred | tenor A suitor who attempts to serenade Rosalinde, and is mistaken for Rosalinde’s husband when the police come to collect Eisenstein to begin his jail term.

Frank | bass-baritone A hard-working, though possibly not particularly intelligent, public servant. He enjoys his job, but sometimes wishes he was someone else (like being the Chevalier Chagrin as opposed to prison warden Frank). He also has a bit of a weakness for the ladies.

Adele | soprano A mischievous, fun-loving maid who is endlessly bored with her role and her employers (the von Eisensteins). She is forever making up excuses to leave and go to parties and lead a more exciting life. Her big dream is to become an actress and to be glamorous and famous.

Ida | soprano I is for Insatiable — she has a love of people, fashion, art, society, status, champagne, danger, fun and laugher.

Rosalinde | soprano A wife suspicious of her husband’s fidelity and intrigues. She proves herself right, although she is not completely innocent herself.

D is for Dancer — although she may not be of the finest calibre in the corps de ballet, she’s done a pretty good job of moving up the artistic ladder, through various means. A is for Adele’s sister — although they may not always get along, Ida loves her sister dearly and wants the best for her.

Gabriel von Eisenstein | tenor Rosalinde’s husband and Falke’s friend. He is off to jail to serve a brief sentence because of a disagreement with a policeman, but Falke convinces him to go to Orlofsky’s party first for a bit of fun, before beginning his sentence the next day.

Frosch | spoken role A disheveled jailer, who complains Alfred (who has been mistaken for Eisenstein) won’t stop singing in his cell.

Dr. Blind | tenor An old, stuttering lawyer who has bungled Eisenstein’s case in court.

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Since Rosalinde is now alone, Alfred returns, helping himself to the dinner and opening the wine meant for Rosalinde and the now-departed Eisenstein. Alfred dons Eisenstein’s house robe, making himself at home. Rosalinde tries to get rid of him, fearing they will be discovered and create a scandal. However, she cannot resist Alfred, and when the jail warden Frank breaks in on them, looking for Eisenstein to haul him off to prison, Rosalinde is forced to pretend that Alfred is her husband, leaving Alfred no choice but to go with the warden, out of a sense of chivalry. As the curtain descends, a letter arrives for Rosalinde, which we assume is her invitation to Orlofsky’s grand party.

Synopsis Written by Stephan Bonfield ACT I The residence of wealthy suburbanite Gabriel Eisenstein A lyric tenor voice serenades Eisenstein's wife, Rosalinde, to her annoyance. Adele, the maid, enters reading a letter from her sister Ida, a ballet dancer. Ida's letter appears to invite Adele to a party at the villa of the young and immensely wealthy Russian Prince Orlofsky.

ACT II Orlofsky’s villa Adele meets her sister Ida at the party and is surprised to find out that Ida did not send her the invitation. Orlofsky enters by announcing his boredom with life, wishing only to laugh again. Falke promises that by night’s end, Orlofsky will laugh at the scenario Falke has planned, which he calls “The Revenge of the Bat.”

Rosalinde appears, distracted by thoughts of her serenading suitor, while Adele asks for the night off work by inventing a ruse that her aunt is sick. Rosalinde refuses, explaining that her husband Eisenstein must report to jail that evening to serve a brief sentence because he lost his temper with a policeman. Meanwhile, Rosalinde recognizes that her serenader is none other than Alfred, a man who once courted her. She is startled and indignant that he casually waltzes into her home, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she is now married. She shoos him away as quickly as she can, but with an apparent tinge of regret.

It turns out that Falke was the one who wrote the party invitation to Adele, and he introduces the disguised maid as the actress Olga. Eisenstein now enters, also disguised, and is announced as the Marquis Renard. After Eisenstein embarrasses himself in front of the prince, Orlofsky explains that he will not tolerate boredom or ingratitude from his guests and that he expects them to drink as much as he does, singing his motto “Chacun à son gout.”

Eisenstein arrives, deprecating his lawyer, Dr. Blind, who incompetently managed to garner a longer jail sentence for his client. After a heated argument, Blind departs. Eisenstein’s friend Dr. Falke arrives to soothe his nerves and Rosalinde and Adele leave to prepare the evening meal. While they are gone, Falke confidentially explains that Eisenstein needs a bit of fun to forget his legal entanglement, and invites him to the grand soirée thrown by Orlofsky, a patient of Falke, whom he is trying to cure of terminal boredom with life.

When Eisenstein recognizes Adele in his wife's evening gown, she maintains her disguise, and embarrasses and humiliates him with the well-known "Laughing Song," to the amusement of the guests. Frank arrives under the pseudonym Chevalier Chagrin, and he and Eisenstein (Renard) belie their French disguises by showing that they can barely speak a word of the language to one another at Orlofsky's introduction. Disguised as an exotic Hungarian countess, Rosalinde appears, and is outraged to see her husband flirting with her maid. Falke introduces Rosalinde to her husband, who fails to recognize his own wife.

Falke explains there will be drinking and dancing with plenty of young ladies, and that Eisenstein should bring his famous stopwatch which is a surefire charm with all the women he has ever seduced. Falke even suggests that Eisenstein can begin his jail term — legally — the next morning. When Rosalinde returns, she is puzzled that Eisenstein is cheery and even has dressed in formal attire to serve his jail term. Rosalinde surprises Adele by telling her she can take the evening off after all, and then bids her husband a teary goodbye. With Adele present the three sing their mock-sorrowful trio of farewell.

Pulling out his famed stopwatch, he attempts to seduce her but is thwarted and humiliated yet again when she pockets his watch. The guests challenge her ethnicity, so to show that she is Hungarian, she sings the famous czárdás. When prompted, an over-confident Eisenstein tells the guests the story of how he pranked Falke after a costume party by abandoning him drunk on a park bench while still disguised as 5


Synopsis (con't) Die Fledermaus — a Bat. Humiliated, Falke woke early in the morning and staggered back to town amid the jeers of those who saw him, enduring their ridicule while they called him “Dr. Bat.”

Frank shows Adele and Ida to an adjoining room. Eisenstein and Frank admit to each other who they really are. Laughter turns to anger for Eisenstein however, when Frank tells him the story of arresting the man who he thought was the real Eisenstein, and the circumstances of Alfred’s affections with Eisenstein’s wife.

Orlofsky proposes a toast to champagne, the king of wines. Eisenstein becomes progressively drunker and befriends Frank, while Falke urges everyone to get closer while sharing affections. Eisenstein tries to unmask the countess, but when the clock strikes six, he and Frank, unknown to one another, flee the party in a panic and hasten to their appointed time at the jail.

Meanwhile, the lawyer Blind has been summoned by Alfred, who is led from his cell by Frosch, but when Eisenstein greets Blind, he hastily changes clothes with him so as to discover his wifes’ infidelity. Rosalinde enters next, ostensibly to free Alfred and to concoct an explanation that won’t compromise herself. Eisenstein becomes progressively more outraged as he learns of Alfred’s intimate supper with his wife. Rosalinde defends herself to her disguised husband, tearfully describing his disgraceful behaviour at the party and that she will file for divorce. When Eisenstein sheds his disguise in righteous indignation, Rosalinde pulls out his stopwatch, and he realizes, to his final humiliation, that she was the Hungarian countess, and that he had been trying to seduce his own wife. The party guests step out from hiding along with Falke, hailing the Bat’s Revenge complete, and all sing once again of champagne’s joys.

ACT III A jailhouse Frosch the jailer, who is perpetually drunk himself, complains that Alfred won’t stop singing. Frank arrives and falls asleep at his desk. Frosch meanwhile has led in two unexpected guests, Ida and Adele, who think they are seeking Chevalier Chagrin, unaware he is the hungover jail warden Frank. Adele knows she cannot possibly go back to work for Eisenstein, and announces to Frank that she has always wanted to be an actress. When Frank asks if she has any talent, Adele sings of the various roles she could play in a virtuoso display. Eisenstein shows up to serve his jail sentence but is still mistaken as Marquis Renard.

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Composer

Born in Vienna on Oct. 25, 1825, Johann Strauss II was the eldest of six children, and displayed musical gifts at an early age. He began composing when he was six years old, and his mother arranged for him to secretly study violin, as his father wanted him to have a career in banking, instead of pursuing music.

Johann Strauss ii

The elder Strauss popularized the waltz worldwide, while his sons Johann, Joseph and Eduard all enjoyed their own musical successes as orchestra conductors and composers of dance music. The musical rivalry between father and sons, however, would last until the elder Strauss’ death.

(1825–1899) Written by Stephan Bonfield

After his father’s death in 1849, Johann Strauss II combined two orchestras — the one his father had conducted, and the one the younger Strauss had formed and made his professional debut as concertmaster and conductor with in 1844. He enjoyed tremendous success as both a composer and a conductor, inheriting his father’s title of “The Waltz King.” He is best remembered for his waltzes and polkas, and concentrated on dance melodies (especially during the 1860s and early 1870s) because he did not believe his music was well-suited to the stage or theatre. By the 1870s, however, Offenbach’s comic operas were extremely popular in Vienna, and Strauss’ first wife, Henriette Treffz, encouraged Strauss to try his hand at operetta. Most of Strauss’ subsequent dance music was excerpts from his operettas. His first complete operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Rauber, premiered in 1871 and was successful, followed by Carneval in Rom (1873). Die Fledermaus (1874) is considered his masterpiece. His compositions evolved into a style that was purely Viennese, resulting in Der Zigeunerbaron, a fusion of operetta with comic opera. While he attempted to create serious opera, Ritter Pazman was not particularly successful, and Strauss returned to composing operettas. Treffz died in 1878, and Strauss married Angelika Dittrich. After nine years, he separated from her and married Adele Deutsch, though because the Catholic Church would not allow a divorce, he changed his nationality and religion to do so. Strauss died of pneumonia on June 3, 1899, at the age of 73.

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engineered or not — abound, and there are the prototypical characters and the standard tricks of such farces: the obligatory servant girl, the lawyer, the drunk, and theme of the wronged lover and the subsequent revenge, to name but a few. The events in the prison in Act iii are the stuff of which French farces are made, as the main protagonists appear in turn (some of them with assumed identities), characters end up in the wrong cells, and while some of the deceptions and misunderstandings are unraveled, others are niftily explained away.

Program notes Written by Mark Morris By the time Die Fledermaus first appeared at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on April 5, 1874, Johann Strauss ii had already been dubbed The Waltz King, and his orchestral music was the toast of Vienna. But a new art form had swept across Europe, led by French composer Offenbach and Austrian von Suppé: the operetta.

The basic premise, though, is straightforward: the plethora of deceits, benign or otherwise, that allow liaisons, flirtations or simply the thought of such delights. This is epitomized in Act ii, when at the ball Eisenstein decides on the conquest of a beautiful masked Hungarian countess. He uses his standard seduction method — his chiming watch — but she, of course, is really his wife, and ends up with the watch; evidence of his infidelity. The trick is that we, the audience, know far more about these deceits than the characters themselves, and it is this knowledge that gives the twists and turns of the plot such piquancy.

It’s probably fair to say that, compared to the weightier aims of opera, operetta is really sheer indulgence, with no ambitions beyond pure entertainment. Hence the generally light and often farcical stories, the inclusion of dialogue to bind events together, and the concentration on popular numbers. Hence, too, the desire of such composers as Offenbach (or Sullivan) to also be taken seriously in pure operatic works, such as Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann, seen here in Edmonton last season.

All this is grist to Strauss’ mill; the very lightness with which these events are treated suits the zest for life that so informs his music. For a waltz king, it is also ideal that the central act is a ball, where the famous waltz that is the principal thematic idea of the operetta can be integrated into the action as a genuine dance. And the waltz has — and certainly had to contemporaries — a feeling of loosened moral restraints, well suited to Vienna’s contemporary ethos and to the flirtatious core of the operetta. Indeed, Wagner called the first Strauss waltzes (by Johann Strauss i) that he heard “a more powerful drug than alcohol,” and the Viennese would probably have agreed.

The best operettas need no such apologies, and it was perhaps natural that a composer who was the master of another musical genre of pure entertainment — the waltz — should turn to a form so popular with Viennese audiences. It was Strauss’ wife, Jetty Treffz, who persuaded him to try his hand at this medium. Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (1871) was well received, but Der Karneval in Rom (1873) was a complete flop. Die Fledermaus then established Strauss’ operetta reputation, thanks to combination of the wonderful shenanigans of the libretto and the infectiousness of its music. The story had started out in 1851 as a German play, Das Gefängnis by Roderick Benedix. It was then adapted in 1872 as a French farce, Le Reveillon, by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, themselves experienced librettists (for both Bizet and Offenbach) and masters of this kind of idiom. The director of the Theater an der Wien, Max Steiner, who had been instrumental in encouraging Strauss in his operatic efforts, then commissioned the conductor and librettist Richard Genée and the playwright Carl Haffner to turn the French farce into a German libretto. It was this he handed over to Strauss.

That waltz first appears in the overture, one of the best known in all musical literature. The first three tunes in the overture come from Act iii; the waltz follows, succeeded by a reference to Eisenstein’s farewell before going to prison. But the brilliance of the overture and its waltz should not disguise the quality of much of the rest of the music, notably Rosalinda’s Hungarian czardas in Act ii (establishing her “Hungarian” credentials), which, as Ernest Newman pointed out, showed what Strauss might have done had he turned to serious opera. Die Fledermaus ran for only 16 performances at the Theater an der Wien, not, as is popularly supposed, because it was a failure, but because the theatre had been

As befits its origins, the twists and turns of the plot are exceptionally complicated. Almost everyone appears in some disguise or another. Mistaken identities — whether

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pre-booked after that. It was then a huge success in Berlin, returned in triumph for a revival in Vienna, and by 1880 it had already played in over 170 German houses. From then on Strauss’ operettas received the international acclaim that had been given to his waltzes. Die Fledermaus reached London in 1876 and the Met in 1905; the Americans have had a predilection for changing its title (including Champagne Sec and Rosalinda), while the French either substituted a new libretto or reverted to the original French names for its characters. It was first filmed as a silent movie in 1917, and since then has received at least 15 film and TV versions, from the Soviet Union to Australia. It is a measure of the work’s success that it currently sits at no. 11 in Operabase’s most performed operas worldwide, just behind Rigoletto, and just ahead of Aida. Die Fledermaus was perhaps best summed up by the conductor Bruno Walter, in words that could equally apply to the champagne that is evoked at the very end of the opera. “Beauty without heaviness, levity without vulgarity, gaiety without frivolity, and a strange mixture of exuberant musical richness and popular simplicity.” No wonder the Viennese loved it.

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Operetta

Additional resources

Compared to the grand, serious operas, operetta is a genre of light opera, fanciful and indulgent in both music and storylines. It was further popularized by Jacques Offenbach (who wrote Les Contes d’Hoffmann), and Johann Strauss ii’s first wife encouraged him to try his hand at writing operetta. Operettas also fall under the category of singspiel, which means opera singers need to be able to speak and project as well as sing.

Fantel, Hans. Johann Strauss: father, son and their era. London: David & Charles, 1971. Gartenberg, Egon. Johann Strauss: the end of an era. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1974.

Librettists

Jacob, Heinrich Eduard. Johann Strauss, father and son: a century of light music. Garden City: Halcyon House, 1939.

The source material for Die Fledermaus comes from Das Gefangnis (The Prison, a farce written by German playwright Julius Roderich) and Le Reveillon (a French vaudeville play by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy). Carl Haffner translated this play and then it was handed over to Richard Genée, who adapted it to a libretto for Strauss. Though Haffner and Genée are both credited as the librettists for the work, Genée later claimed that he had never met Haffner and the work was solely his.

Pastene, Jerome. Three-quarter time: the life and music of the Strauss family of Vienna. New York: Abelard Press, 1951. Reeser, Eduard. The history of the waltz. Stockholm: Continental Book Co, 1949. Smillie, Thomson. “A introduction to J. Strauss Jr., Die Fledermaus.” compact disc Stephenson, Kelly K. Waltz through time: a lecture demonstration on the stylistic evolution of the waltz during the eighteen hundreds. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1989. Strauss II, Johann. “Die Fledermaus.” London, England, Decca (2012). compact disc Wechsburg, Joseph. The waltz emperors: the life and times and music of the Strauss family. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1973.

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Q&A

What is the biggest challenge with being an opera singer? Consistency. We are often on the road with schedules that change daily and having a consistent plan which includes rehearsal, family life, healthy eating and exercise is always a challenging endeavour.

Artists in Edmonton Opera productions often come from all around the world, but for this production of Die Fledermaus, we are very excited that our cast is comprised of young, North American singers, many who have a personal connection to this bubbly operetta and/or have been to Edmonton before.

Jacqueline Woodley | Adele Do you have a personal connection to Die Fledermaus? Die Fledermaus was an opera I saw for the first time at Opera Nuova, which was my first trip out to Edmonton and I laughed so hard I was crying. I was involved with The Magic Flute at the time and had heard bits of the Fledermaus music in rehearsals, but was surprised to see how funny a show it was when I saw it in the theatre. I have sung Mein Herr Marquis many times since, although this will be a role debut for me. I once sang the aria at the Viennese ball in Montreal, which was such a fun, daunting crowd to sing a Viennese standard for.

We asked these artists a couple of questions, to help our audiences get to know the artists on stage. Allison Grant | director Have you worked in Edmonton before? My first experience as an assistant director was at Edmonton Opera. I assisted on Kelly Robinson’s production of Die Fledermaus the year Edmonton Opera hosted the World Figure Skating Championship (1996).

Which composer is your favourite, and why? So many, but Mozart, Verdi and Strauss are some of my favourites. Mozart for the simple beauty, the comedy and the brilliance, Verdi for the beautiful melodies and Strauss for the gorgeous orchestration and haunting melodies. I also love Massenet and Berg.

Do you have a personal connection to Die Fledermaus? I have choreographed or assistant directed four different productions. This is no. 5, but it is the first time I have directed it. I once played Ida, and choreographed it as well.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Work very hard, be wonderful colleagues, and most importantly, love it. Not the applause but the rehearsals, the performances, the music, or else it’s not worth it!

What first interested you in opera? Large choruses, big orchestras, intensely felt, emotional and human stories; these attracted me. I particularly enjoy working on Die Fledermaus because of its dance element, but also because of the infectious quality of the music. It is wonderfully uplifting and hugely satisfying.

Betty Waynne Allison | Rosalinde Which composer is your favourite, and why? Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Dvorak. I love the Slavic composers because their music is so rich and emotionally powerful.

Gerald Thompson | Prince Orlofsky What aspects of your life might be interesting to our opera audiences? I started singing countertenor during my first year of college, before having sung mainly comedic tenor repertoire in musical theatre. This was around the time that baroque music was first having a resurgence in the United States. I had actually never heard of the countertenor voice type before becoming one myself.

Which pop star do you think would make the best opera singer? I don’t know how it would sound, but I’d love to hear the Barenaked Ladies attempt something opera-esque. Those boys can really sing and are flexible in the pop style. It would be interesting to see what they could do.

Which composer is your favourite, and why? My favourite composer to sing is Handel, because he allows the performer to show such a huge range in both characterization and vocal ability. His music also allows the performer to ornament the arias and customize the interpretation for each individual production.

What is the biggest challenge with being an opera singer? Musically — keeping what we do relevant and accessible to the world we live in while keeping a strong connection to the traditions of the past.

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Q & A (con't)

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? My advice to aspiring artists to mainly to keep at it. Opera is not an easy business to get into and, besides that, it takes a while for the voice to mature to its full potential. As a 29-year-old bass I still have probably five more years (or more!) until I would be considered to have a mature bass voice. If you love performing opera, stick with it and it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life!

Aaron Ferguson | Dr. Blind What first interested you in opera? I had a crush on a girl in the high school musical which led to opera — I ended up in a wonderful career and she married some other guy!

Which aria should everyone YouTube because it’s so great? Would it be cheating if I gave you an art song instead? If not, search for Schubert’s Dier Dopperlganger from the song cycle Schwanengesang. Probably my favourite version is that sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

What aspects of your life might be interesting to our opera audiences? I am a competitive jiu jitsu fighter and have won titles throughout North America. Which composer is your favourite, and why? I have always loved Benjamin Britten. His music edifies the human plight of loneliness and confusion. I think he is the greatest composer of the last 100 years.

Tanya Roberts | Ida What first interested you in opera? After years of being in musicals, I was in my first opera when I was 16. I successfully auditioned for Royal Opera Canada’s chorus in Toronto, and made my debut as Party Guest #37 in Verdi’s La Traviata. The moment I stepped out onto the stage of the Living Arts Centre, looked out at the 1,300-seat theatre adorned in red velvet and gold, and swung my big hoop skirt around, I was hooked.

Peter McGillivray | Dr. Falke Do you have any pre-performance rituals? Tea! Must have tea. And I always do 10 pushups before my first entrance to get my blood pumping.

Which character would you love to play in an opera? The opera hasn’t been written yet, but I’d love to play the role of Nancy Botwin in an opera based on the television show Weeds. I think she’s a fascinating matriarch and I would love to explore what motivates her. Plus, she would undoubtedly have an amazing aria while lighting her house on fire.

Which movie would make a great opera and which character would you play? I’ve always thought there should be more science-fiction new operas. Sci-fi is already operatic in so many ways, there is already a certain suspension of disbelief required to enjoy it. I’m sure Wagner would have adored the epic nature of something like Star Wars. I would obviously play Han Solo. Luke Skywalker is such a whiner.

What is the biggest challenge with being an opera singer? I think what makes opera so challenging is also what makes it so rewarding: you have to be great at everything. You need to build your instrument and learn how to play it; you need to have a working knowledge of English, Italian, German and French; you have to be able to act and move well on the stage, and for some roles you need to know how to dance; you have to be able to work with a huge team of directors, conductors, designers, teachers, coaches, choreographers and fellow singers, and you have to do it all at the same time!

Which composer is your favourite, and why? It might not be fashionable, but I’m a big Puccini fan. His sense of musical drama is sheer perfection. He knew how the voice works but also how to deploy it to satisfy the audience’s ear. Edward Hanlon | Frank Which character would you love to play in an opera? I’m going to give you two: Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust (it’s fun to be the bad guy!) or any of the roles in Phillip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach.

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Your guide to Die Fledermaus  

The Edmonton Opera presents Die Fledermaus on Feb. 1, 4 and 6, 2014, at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Education dress rehearsal i...

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