<< -- 3 -- Malcolm Miller ON THE LAKE
Conducting the concert charismatically was COC's director of fourteen years, British-born Richard Bradshaw, whose witty introductions added to the audience-friendly ambience and who launched the programme with a swirling and brightly brassy Lohengrin Overture. The COC orchestra displayed finesse throughout, notably in the two orchestra excerpts, Strauss's Pizzicato Polka (with Bradshaw's witty addition of triangle) and an evocative Dawn Scene from Musorgsky's Kovanschina in Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration, with eloquent woodwind. The Radetzky March proved a suitable encore to elicit audience participation crowing a wonderful evening in which dark clouds had given way through sweeping fresh winds off the bay to clear skies.
Richard Bradshaw conducting the COC Orchestra at the 2003 Altamira Summer Opera Concerts. Photo © 2003 Nisha Lewis
Richard Bradshaw paid tribute to the founder of COC, ninety four year old Niki Goldschmidt, who was present in the audience enjoying the display of promising new talent. Goldschmidt had the distinction of premièring six of Britten's operas and directing performances across Canada during its Centenary back in 1967. Goldschmidt is still remarkably active, organising a November Britten Festival in Ontario. With the Canadian Opera Company currently proving highly successful, it is salutary that a new opera house is at last being built for an opening in 2006. To launch it COC have planned the Canadian première of the complete Ring cycle, which is already nearly sold out. When I asked Niki Goldschmidt what he thought about the idea, he answered: 'I always believe in doing something Big: and if there was ever a time to do the complete Ring, this is it!'
Niagara-on-the-Lake sits at the mouth of the Niagara River as it spills into Lake Ontario. Acros the river is Fort Niagara in Youngstown NY. Photo © David Cooper/Shaw Festival
Visitors to Ontario this year also had an unusual opportunity to enjoy an admirable production of one of the less-oft performed Weill-Brecht music theatre masterpieces, Happy End, a work composed in 1929 but which, remarkably, had its Canadian première as recently as 1981. It was featured at this year's (mainly theatrical) Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, not far from the spectacular Falls and only an hour from down-town Toronto, the first season under the new festival director Jackie Maxwell.
Copyright © 2 October 2003
Malcolm Miller, London UK