Halifax Summer Opera Workshop presents Little Women and Opera Excerpts


Halifax Summer Opera Workshop presents Little Women and Opera Excerpts

To mark its fifth year of operation, Halifax Summer Opera Workshop presents Mark Adamo’s LIttle Women (directed by Edward Franko) and a varied program of Opera Excerpts (directed by Nina Scott-Stoddart) at the Sir James Dunn Theatre from August 7 through August 16.

HSOW started in 2005 with a production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte involving nine performers. In 2006 the number had grown to thirteen for a production of Don Giovanni. Two years ago, in response to growing interest, the workshop expanded, producing two operas, fully staged and costumed: The Magic Flute and Giulio Cesare, with over thirty singers. Last year HSOW featured almost 40 singers, chosen from 200 applicants from across North America, in fully-staged productions of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Menotti’s The Consul.

This year we welcome 25 university students or young professional singers from eight provinces and three states, who are all spending a month in Halifax rehearsing and performing the two shows. This year the singers range in age from 18 to 30.

Little Women, by American composer Mark Adamo, is vivacious music-theatre of charm, wit and humor. Adamo based his two-act, eight-scene opera on the classic novel of the same title by Louisa May Alcott set during the U.S. Civil War. Adamo brings considerable verve and freshness to Alcott’s story, with the result that this opera is never less than endearing. The opera focuses on three central events from the Civil War-era coming-of-age tale of the four March sisters — Meg’s wedding, Laurie’s infatuation with Jo, and Beth’s death – and unifies them dramatically with music. Adamo’s work (his first opera) was an artistic and commercial success from the moment of its premiere in Houston in 1998, and has received many performances around the world, including a PBS broadcast. Although this is the most “modern’ opera HSOW has ever performed, it’s also, ironically, our first period piece, with period costumes and set. This is also Little Women’s Nova Scotia premiere.

HSOW’s Opera Excerpts show takes the audience on a tour of opera, from Handel to Bernstein, presented in a pared-down, theatrical way. Twelve passionate young singers perform a range of entertaining scenes and arias from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Handel’s Alcina, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bernstein’s Candide, among others. This should be an enjoyable and accessible program for both established opera lovers and those wishing to explore or discover this most powerful of theatrical and musical art forms. There will be projected English translations for all excerpts in foreign languages.

Opera is a difficult art to master, and opera workshops give young singers the opportunity learn and hone the essentials of both stagecraft and singing. The Halifax workshop has become one of the most popular in Canada. This year’s workshop includes group theatre warm-ups with Edward Franko and Nina Scott-Stoddart and masterclasses with Dal professor Marcia Swanston, University of Toronto professor Lenard Whiting and the music director for Little Women, Gordon Gerrard, the conductor of the Calgary Opera.

One of the principal aims of the workshop is to give singers from Atlantic Canada a chance to work on their craft close to home. This year Maritimers comprise almost half of the company (our largest percentage so far), including a significant contingent from the Dalhousie Music Department, which, along with Dal Theatre, is a strong supporter of the programme.

The two shows have completely separate teams of music director, stage director and stage manager. For Opera Excerpts it’s Dalhousie University’s Lynette Wahlstrom, Dal Opera Workshop’s Nina Scott-Stoddart and Maria Murphy. For Little Women it’s Gordon Gerrard of Calgary Opera, Toronto stage director Edward Franko and Jodey Reeves. Other production staff are shared between the two shows. Bonnie Archibald-Ahalt is costume coordinator and Judy Reade is managing props.

Both works will be sung in the original languages with projected English translations where needed for the Excerpts. Each opera is double cast, and will be accompanied by piano.

Enthusiastic, energetic and innovative productions presented by North America’s young and emerging artists. That’s HSOW: opera that’s accessible in all senses of the word.



The Halifax Summer Opera Workshop presents two shows this year: American composer Mark Adamo’s setting of LITTLE WOMEN and a program of OPERA EXCERPTS by Bernstein, Mozart, Gershwin and Handel from August 7 to 16 at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax. All shows are fully staged and costumed, and accompanied by piano. Performances start at 7:30 pm, except for Sunday the 16th, which starts at 2:30 pm.

Tickets: $20 adults, $15 for students and seniors and $5 for children 12 and under, available
from the Dalhousie Arts Centre Box Office at 6101 University Avenue, or by phoning (902) 494-3820 or 1 800 874-1669

The Halifax Summer Opera Workshop website is at halifaxsummeroperaworkshop.com

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Little Women by Mark Adamo
(in English)
August 7, 10, 13 and 15 at 7:30 pm

Opera Excerpts
(in original languages with projected English translations where needed)
August 8, 11, 14 at 7:30 pm, and August 16 at 2:30 pm

Sir James Dunn Theatre
Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue

Tickets $20, $15 seniors/students, $5 children 12 and under
call the Box Office at (902) 494-3820 or 1 800 874-1669
or buy your tickets online at https://kil-dacweb-2.cohn.dal.ca/online/

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