May 5, 2014
Media contact: Jelena Bojic
Director of community relations and assistant general manager
As part of a new mini-opera in the Devonian Botanic Garden, Opera al Fresco audiences will be greeted on June 20 by a Japanese demon, a bridge builder who can’t build bridges, and a group of children who can’t cross the river.
The 15-minute opera, The Carpenter and the Oniroku, has been specifically written for the Edmonton Opera Children’s Chorus, based at Victoria School of the Arts, with the Devonian’s Japanese Garden in mind.
Composer Samantha Semler is a student at the University of Alberta, and was one of two 2012 Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers. She has also won prizes provincially for her music.
The librettist is Mark Morris, who has written 11 operas that have been performed in eight countries, including major music festivals in Banff, Mexico and Ireland, and in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London.
“This is such fun to do,” Morris said, “though I was a bit stuck at the beginning, because I was having difficulty finding a story that would suit the Japanese Garden, and would use the river and bridge there. Then one of my Children’s Literature students at the university wrote an essay comparing Rumpelstiltskin to a Japanese folktale I hadn’t heard of. That Japanese folktale has a river, a bridge and children in it. Serendipity.”
For Semler, writing an opera like this is a new experience.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work in a genre I haven’t done before,” she said. “I love kids, and being able to write for them, meet them and attend rehearsals is inspiring me to think about writing more choral works and works for children.”
Children’s chorus director Janice Tole added it’s exciting to have something created specifically for the chorus and for the occasion.
“The new opera is extending the children’s arts education in music, movement and storytelling, and as one of the chorus said to me, ‘I’m so excited to sing in our own production,’” Tole said.
Opera al Fresco features soloists at each of the different gardens, which audiences rotate through over the course of the evening. This is the second time the children’s chorus has performed at the event.
“It is rather incredible that all the forces coming together to create and perform a new opera will be realized in such a short time,” said Tim Yakimec, Edmonton Opera general manager. “I can fully understand how the positive energy in working with children has ignited and propelled this project forward so well.
“This performance is also a new venture that will help us to evolve Opera al Fresco, in addition to being a unique highlight for audiences that evening.”
Iain Gillis, general manager at Cantilon Choirs, will sing the role of the carpenter, while the role of the demon will be sung by Bertrand Malo, who has sung in previous Edmonton Opera mainstage productions.
“My character the carpenter doesn’t believe that the demon can build the bridge,” Gillis said. “So foolishly he is prepared to give up his eyeballs if the demon succeeds. To find out if I can still spell my name with both i’s by the end of the opera, you’ll just have to come and see it!”
Opera al Fresco celebrates summer in the Devonian Botanic Garden on June 20, starting at 7 p.m., and is sponsored by Raywalt Construction. To arrange interviews, please contact Jelena Bojic, director of community relations and assistant general manager, at 780-392-7837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More media releases
With two free events planned this weekend, the Edmonton Opera is joining its arts and culture colleagues across Canada for Culture Days, providing interactive and exciting opportunities for families and individuals.
Opera is even more accessible during the 2012/13 season, as the Edmonton Opera has made changes to its production schedule to allow for matinée performances.
In addition to three nighttime performances, there will be a 2 p.m. performance on the Sunday during the production run. This earlier performance allows for out-of-town opera enthusiasts to enjoy the performance without making an overnight trip, or for families to expose their children to the art form and still make it home at a family-friendly hour.
One of the grand operas, Aida will grace the Edmonton stage for the first time in over a decade when the Edmonton Opera opens its 49th season next month. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, Edmonton Opera joins other opera houses around the world honouring the great composer and his works.
The Verdi masterpiece will be presented in its full splendor, with roughly 100 performers, including principal artists, chorus members, supernumeraries and Brian Webb dancers on stage together at any given time.
The exclusive launch of the Opera Art Project will happen later this month, as the Edmonton Opera and the Alberta Craft Council come together for a new arts venture.
Local artists have created opera-themed fine craft, offering opera patrons a chance to take home memories of the 2012/13 mainstage season performances. The works will be on display and available for purchase for the first time on Sept. 28, prior to the opening of Aida.
Artists involved in the project come mainly from the Edmonton area and offer a wide variety of fine craft.
Local craft artists are making it possible for opera patrons to take home memories of the 2012/2013 season mainstage performances, thanks to the partnership between the Edmonton Opera and the Alberta Craft Council.
After a successful Opera Coat Project a few years ago, the Edmonton Opera and the Alberta Craft Council have partnered again for the Opera Art Project, where artists will create operaâ€specific pieces as it relates to their medium.