Essential Opera offers an appealing format for local audiences to experience a more intimate form of opera, and pique audiences’ interest in opera with fresh vocal talents.
Get your tickets to see Essential Opera at BeMused Network!
(Sept 27, 2014, 8:00pm) Paride ed Elena at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre in Toronto ($25/$20)
(Oct 1, 2014, 7:30pm) Paride ed Elena at Registry Theatre in Kitchener ($25/$20)
Essential Opera is kicking off its 5th season with remarkable signs of growth. They will be presenting Gluck’s well-loved Paride ed Elena on the stage of Trinity St. Paul’s Centre on September 27 (home to Tafelmusik and Toronto Consort), followed by the Registry Theatre in Kitchener on October 1.
While financial considerations informed their concert format with piano accompaniment, the company has come up with an essential formula: Great music presented with wonderful vocalists and personalities to present the operatic experience in miniature. There is enough to engage all our operatic senses, while the spaces in between encourage deeper listening and trigger our imagination. Read on…
“Opera has the best chance out of all the performing arts to engage those new audiences, because it’s at the extreme end of the live performance spectrum.” ~ Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry New Opera
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the “indie opera potluck”, a get-together of independent opera companies that have recently emerged in Toronto. Michael Mori, artistic director of Tapestry New Opera initiated the first one back in January, and this second event was hosted by Rachel Krehm, general manager of Opera Five.
“Do the companies here mind sharing when they actually got started?” Maureen Batt of Essential Opera asked on a hunch during a discussion between courses.
It turns out that almost all the companies represented — FAWN opera, Bicycle Opera Project, Against the Grain, Metro Youth Opera, and montreal-based Opera da Camera — were founded in 2010 or shortly after, a social phenomenon that had caught the attention of Christina Loewen, executive director of Opera.ca, who was also in attendance.
We knew going in that starting an opera company would be a huge challenge, requiring lots of time and resources. I wish someone could have reaffirmed for us from the beginning that we really would be okay to simply trust in strong material, talented performers, and that audiences are smart and curious.
Erin Bardua & Maureen Batt, photo by Katie Cross
Maureen Batt and Erin Bardua are the co-artistic directors of Essential Opera, almost a guerrilla operation. With limited resources, they draw on their experiences in language studies and theatre production to create an experience that speaks to the seasoned opera-goer without alienating a general audience. They translate much of the dialogue into english themselves to convey the story, and create their own english subtitles when they sing in other languages. There are no fancy sets, which offers a creative challenge for an art form that is known for being over-the-top.
Essential Opera offers a very immediate and intimate way to experience an operatic repertoire that is well loved by singers but rarely performed to the public. They are perfect for this budding opera company that does not seem to be daunted by obvious challenge of being both the producers and the performers of their own shows.
Their 5th production next Friday, aptly titled “Two Weddings and a Funeral” featuring two one-act comic operas by Puccini and Donizetti. Check out the trailer to their show at the end of this post. We’ll be running a contest to give away two tickets to their show on Monday, so stay tuned for details!