Catering to theatre-goers who are looking for something new and different, Toronto-based Opera in Concert showcases a repertoire of rarely seen operatic works—without the benefit of sets, costumes, or other accoutrements.
This puts all the focus on “the singing voice in its purest form,” and offers audiences a unique way of experiencing opera, “one that unleashes the expressive power of music,” according to the OIC website.
To that end, on Nov. 25 OIC will present Rossini’s “Armida” as its season opener. Although not as popular as other operas, Rossini’s lesser known masterpiece is nonetheless a work worth discovering and one that demands high skill of its performers.
In a recent interview, OIC’s general director Guillermo Silva-Marin talked about “Armida,” the nature of the company’s productions, and the power of music to unite people.
The Epoch Times: What makes Opera in Concert’s performances unique?
Guillermo Silva-Marin: Opera in Concert is the only company in Canada that promotes and features 100 percent Canadian talent in concert format performances of rarely heard operatic repertoire.
The larger opera companies are not able to take the chance on a talented but unknown singer the way Opera in Concert can.
Epoch Times: What can people expect? How is this experience different from going to a regular opera?
Mr. Silva-Marin: Audiences can expect the unexpected! In many cases the operas we present have never been heard in live performance in Canada before, so the opera lover can have the pleasure and joy of discovery.
Another amazing discovery is the wonderful talent that may not have broken from the pack as yet. OIC gives them the chance to shine in a major role. The larger opera companies are not able to take the chance on a talented but unknown singer the way Opera in Concert can.
Epoch Times: Part of the charm of opera is the theatrical staging. How do you keep the audience’s attention for a full-length opera without it?
Mr. Silva-Marin: Opera is drama that is presented through the medium of words and music. Though the scenery can be helpful in setting the scene of an opera, the main thrust of a production is to tell the story and unleash the human drama through music. Opera in Concert allows the audience to be focused only on the drama and the music.
Epoch Times: Without the props one has to rely on the human voice. What challenges does this pose for the director? For the performer?
Mr. Silva-Marin: The director must make sure that the audience knows the relationship between the characters, and this is the thrust of a director whether there are sets and props or not.
The singers and the director must devote themselves to honesty in delivering the text and the emotional content behind the text. On the Opera in Concert stage, there is no place to hide, so the singer must act with his voice, his body, and a faithful projection of the text.
Mr. Silva-Marin: Well, I love the music of Rossini, who is one of the greatest opera composers ever. He made a lot of money by the time he was 37 and retired to Paris where he had a really good time! He wrote 39 operas, many of them completely unknown, and I think it’s a great opportunity for us to present some of these forgotten masterpieces to our Toronto audience.
Epoch Times:Talk a bit about “Armida” and what inspired you to stage this production.
For ‘Armida’ itself, the legend has attracted many composers and it has a great bravura role for a soprano, plus a lot of great roles for tenors. We have five of them on stage all at once! It’s unique—just like Opera in Concert—and I wanted to showcase the music and our singers.
I see opera as a way we can come together from our different backgrounds and celebrate our common humanity.
Epoch Times: What about opera in general?
Silva-Marin: Opera as an art form is without borders. Music has the ability to unite people and cultures like no other cultural medium can.
In a city such as Toronto, where we have an amazing diversity in our population, I see opera as a way we can come together from our different backgrounds and celebrate our common humanity. Opera can make it happen!
Armida will be staged for one performance only on Nov. 25 at 2:30 p.m. at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The opera will be performed in Italian with English subtitles. For more information, visit: www.operainconcert.com
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.