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December 2011 - Nr. 12
Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica

There really is no need any more for Torontonians to only turn to the Canadian Opera Company for good opera performances. For one the trip downtown is cumbersome and getting out of the city, even late in the evening, is a nightmare. Another reason is price. Opera York is a lot more affordable than the COC.

After over 10 years of being gypsies without a permanent home the company has been laying roots in the Richmond Hill Centre for the Arts. It is a fine facility worthy of any company thriving for excellence in performance. The theatre space is not too big and not too small, the acoustics are great, the parking is free and traffic flows up on Yonge Street much better than downtown. What could be a better combination?

In this 15th season we were offered Puccini’s Madama Butterfly to start with. This dark and passionate work is one of the most beloved operas of all times and feeds our fascination for everything Far East. It has been asked if the theme is still a relevant one in our time and the answer can only be a resounding yes. Perhaps the constellations and details have changed, but the abuse of girls and women is still a dilemma in many parts of the world and even here in our country. Even now we read in the papers and see on television about honour or dishonour women and their families are embroiled in, sometimes with a horrific outcome. With the help of this opera it is much easier to understand what a foreign culture can demand of individuals mixing with someone not from their background. The clash of cultures shows us that he world is not quite as small as were have come to believe. There are deep gulfs between the Oxidant and the Orient and much in-between.

The Madama Butterfly Opera York presented with Sabatino Vacca at the artistic helm was pretty much styled close to the roots of the story. There were no noticeable dramaturgical changes. He managed to get quite nicely done acting out of his singers, who all sang admiringly well.

photo: Opera YorkDeirdre Fulton as Cio-Cio-San (Mamdame Butterfly) is sheer delight. Her soprano soars and echoes all the fine emotional variations her part requires. She was totally believable.

Romulo Delgado as Pinkerton displayed besides a fine lyrical tenor voice the necessary arrogance to make his part authentic.

All supporting parts were performed in good ensemble fashion. The visual of the production exceeded expectations. We are already used to Frank Pasian's fabulous set ideas, but his talent for simplifying the lines of a set has found perfection with this one. The simple red frame defined the space held the story together. It only took minute changes to signify a move to the garden or another room of the house.

The set

The costumes by Amanda Eason were very appropriate, yet we wonder if a pair of inexpensive rattan clogs would have not made a vast difference for the authenticity of the plot. The modern character shoes somehow offended the oriental feel of the whole.

But that is the only note we would make that was not perfect in this production that was otherwise simply well perceived, produced and performed.

Opera York should be proud of its accomplishments. For young performers it is becoming a prestigious venue to practise their art.

Next we are looking forward to Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss at the very end of February and the beginning of March. An elegant gala fundraiser will round out the performance program for Opera York’s 15th season at the end of March. For more information go to

Photos by Opera York

Opera York is a professional opera/operetta company run by volunteers. It goes into the community and brings understanding of opera/operetta into the school system. Gives novices a chance to step onto the stage, has its own choir and orchestra and has become acknowledged and respected in the field and audiences alike.

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