It all began with an aria… Deh vieni, non tardar… Oh, come, don’t be late… from The Marriage of Figaro.
When she was asked to sing as a guest artist for the Kenora Strings, having not sung classical music in six months, Olivia chose the Mozart aria that had caused her to first fall in love with opera, and that choice caused a ripple effect.
Gord Day-Janz, artistic director of Kenora’s Trylight Theatre Company had been sitting in the audience and after the performance he remarked on how much he loved Mozart, and in particular, The Magic Flute.
And then came the idea… could an opera be done in Kenora, with local singers? It took three years from that first aria to the completion of the opera, but in 2016 Trylight Theatre presented it’s own production of The Marriage of Figaro.
But, of course, it wasn’t as simple as all that… how do you produce an Italian opera in an English community without the use of sur or sub titles?, who wants to sit for three plus hours?, will people actually buy tickets to an opera in a town that has been declared by Money Sense magazine to be a cultural wasteland?
Our First Solution:
Wanting to still use the Italian language while still delivering the storyline was our first hurdle, and, as it turned out, our greatest success. First, the opera was translated into a working English script, and a narrator was added to the story. Instead of the traditional Italian recitatives, the dialogue was presented as a storybook. The pieces of music were then looked at to see which furthered the storyline and which had such sublime music that text was irrelevant. Our opera was then delivered in both English and Italian, delivering the hilarious and bittersweet storyline while preserving the beauty of Mozart’s music.
Solution Number Two:
Solution number one basically solved solution number two. As the recitatives were cut to make room for the narrator the music was also trimmed to deliver maximum story in the minimum amount of time (just under two and a half hours). As it turned out, audiences loved this new way of presenting a lengthy opera. As solutions started to present themselves a new way of presenting opera started to form. This is what shapes Kenora Opera Theatre, and what makes it unique.
The Final Solution:
So, did people buy tickets? Of course they did! All three performances sold out, proving that if you sing it, they will come.
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