A Message from Larry Desrochers
General Director & CEO
Opera is calling us together. We’re inviting you to join us for our 49th season of opera, live on stage. Come together with us to experience live opera for this first time since November 2019. To welcome you back, we’re presenting not two, but three operas!
Each opera speaks to themes that will resonate with us at this unique moment in time: isolation, miscommunication, resilience, and the power of forgiveness. The operas are all musical gems that allow the singers to shine.
The mainstage premieres of Menotti’s The Telephone and La voix humaine (The Human Voice) by Poulenc will launch the season in November. These two one-act operas tell very different stories: one a charming romantic comedy and the other a gripping drama. However, they both explore the effects of technology on our lives and the importance of human connection.
Next April, we will stage La Cenerentola for the first time in over 25 years! Rossini’s take on the classic rags-to-riches story differs from the fairy tale made famous by Disney. The wicked stepmother is replaced by a buffoonish stepfather, the fairy godmother is now a wise philosopher, and it is matching bracelets that bring the lovers together, not a glass slipper. Regardless, La Cenerentola is overflowing with hijinks, lively music, and sheer fun and that all adds up to it being a great opera for families.
Everyone associated with Manitoba Opera – the board of trustees, staff, the artists, and crew – is excited at the prospect of our return to the stage with a live audience. We have all missed sharing an artistic experience together with you, and we can’t wait for that curtain to rise once again.
For 2021/22, the programming that I have selected has small casts that make it possible to produce under a range of scenarios and allows us to invite patrons safely back to the Concert Hall. Audience sizes will be set by provincial public health orders and because of the changing rules, we are waiting for the re-opening plans that are scheduled to be announced the last week of August before we finalize seating capacity. Once that is determined, we will know how many tickets we will have available to sell.
Subscribers will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets when they become available beginning in early September; single tickets will be available later in the fall.
As we transition back to live programming, you will notice a few changes that will be in effect for this season only. There will only be two performances of the fall productions: Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6.
These are semi-staged works with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra featured on stage, not in the pit. Having the musicians on stage, allows for more social distancing than the pit would provide. Please note that due to the public health orders in place, for the fall show in particular, it is very unlikely that you will be seated in your usual seats.
We will contact subscribers in early September with prices and seating sections. In the meantime, you can go online and complete an Intent to Subscribe form. For more information on 2021/22 seating, safety, and ticket policies, please refer to the sidebar.
If subscribers are not able to join us this season, we are happy to hold onto subscription seats until the 2022/23 season, our 50th anniversary. Subscribers can also use the Intent to Subscribe form to let us know that you are intending to return to subscribing next season.
Gian Carlo Menotti wrote both the words and music for The Telephone (L’Amour à trois), which had its debut in 1947, sharing the billing with the composer’s The Medium. The premise – a young woman spending so much time on the phone that she doesn’t realize her boyfriend is trying to propose to her – is certainly a relatable story with very approachable music. It was an instant hit and has since been performed all over the world in numerous languages.
La voix humaine (The Human Voice) provides a musical examination of someone struggling with their mental health after a difficult break up. As Elle desperately tries to win back her former lover over the telephone, she and the audience ride a roller-coaster of emotions that all lead to that final goodbye.
Our spring production of La Cenerentola is the enchanting and hilarious version of the classic fairy tale, Cendrillion, in which an innocent girl, abused by her dysfunctional and cruel family, ends up marrying a handsome prince. It is an enduring favourite and rightly so. Sure to tickle the fancy of audience members from five to 95, Rossini’s lively, energetic music will sweep you away. The high-fashion, over-the-top costuming will be as much a treat for the eyes as Rossini’s sparkling music is for the ears in this 1950’s-inspired production.
The Telephone and La voix humaine
The Telephone and La voix humaine will be directed by Winnipegger Jacqueline Dawson and conducted by Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Both artists are making their MO debuts.
In The Telephone, Lucy will be sung by Winnipeg soprano Lida Szkwarek who made her company debut as one of the featured sopranos in The Sopranos of Winnipeg livestream in November 2020. Johnathon Kirby returns to the MO stage to sing the role of Ben. This bass baritone has sung with companies across the country and last appeared as Masetto in MO’s 2018 acclaimed production of Don Giovanni.
Winnipeg’s sought-after soprano Lara Ciekiewicz will sing the role of Elle in La voix humaine. Last seen on the MO stage in November 2019 singing the title role in Susannah, she has been hailed for being “an expressive singer of note.” – Opera Canada.
Rising star Winnipeg mezzo-soprano Lizzy Hoyt makes her mainstage debut as Angelina/Cenerentola. Tenor Andrew Owens who charmed audiences as Count Almaviva in the 2019 production of The Barber of Seville returns to sing Don Ramiro (The Prince). Considered to be a master of buffoonery, baritone Peter McGillivray will display his comic chops as Don Magnifico, the stepfather. Bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus, who first appeared with the MO in the 2018 production of Don Giovanni, returns to take on the role of Alidoro (a philosopher and the prince’s former tutor).
Also starring in this production is Winnipeg soprano Andrea Lett as Clorinda, a stepsister; mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney will make her MO debut as Tisbe, the second stepsister; and baritone Nicholas Borg, a graduate of the company’s 2020 Digital Emerging Artist Program, will also make his MO debut as the prince’s valet, Dandini.
Director Rob Herriot will bring his comedic flair to the production. Manitoba Opera’s Music Advisor and Principal Conductor Tyrone Paterson will be on the podium conducting the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. An all-male Manitoba Opera Chorus will also be featured.
Set design is by Sheldon Johnson and costumes, designed by Deanna Finnman, will be supplied by Edmonton Opera. Lighting is by Scott Henderson.
SUBSCRIBING THIS SEASON
As we transition back to performing for live audiences, subscribing this season has never been more important. Although it will not be a typical season in terms of your subscription and seating, etc., what won’t change is the commitment Manitoba Opera has to providing you with the very best artistic experience possible.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
As we resume live performances, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who’ve continued to support us through the past year and a half. Your gifts kept the organization strong, and your notes and messages buoyed our spirits during such uncertain times. The staff and the board are deeply grateful for your support.
Now, you can help raise the curtain on the live, in-person opera experiences we have all missed so much. Your donation will help bring us all together to enjoy the music we love.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact our Box Office. Call 204-957-7842 between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
I know the artists are eagerly anticipating performing live for you at the Centennial Concert Hall once again and hearing your applause. Come together with us this fall and re-connect with the joys of experiencing live opera. I hope you will be there.
General Director & CEO
Subscriber Hotline 204-957-7842
1060-555 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1C3 (Lower Level, Centennial Concert Hall)
Office Hours Monday – Friday, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm