Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Edmonton Opera

For whatever reason, my memory of events in the mid-90s can be patchy. A few months ago, like a bolt from the blue, I remembered that Kathleen Battle had a recital here. It took me a bit to decide if it really happened or if it was a dream. I'd attended the performance, so why didn't I remember it? I can't tell you a single thing she sang. I decided to check Google and searched for any record of an Edmonton recital. I was kind of surprised by what I found.

The Edmonton Opera has a history page with a number of interesting items:
  • Not only was Kathleen Battle here in the 90s, but so was Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kenawa and Cecilia Bartoli. What was I doing when Dame Kiri came to town that I didn't go? Playing with pogs?
  • Marilyn Horne, Jose Carreras, and Anna Moffo all sang here.
  • Beverly Sills sang here three different times.
  • 1976 Bohème with Teresa Stratas?!?!

Something obviously happened around 1980 because these superstar bookings stopped (excepting the recital series mentioned above). I went to a number of productions in the 90s and things have actually gone even further downhill since then. I actually saw works like Britten's Rape of Lucretia or Strauss's Ariadne here and I'm thinking that would never happen now. (I guess they lost a ton of money in the 90s.) Liz and I had been subscribers for a few years recently, but after a brutally bad Barber of Seville, I think that's it for subscriptions. Especially with the Met HD broadcasts at movie theatres. After the Edmonton fiasco, we went and saw Bartlett Sher's Met production of Barber in the theatre and it was fantastic. With 8 Met presentations in the theatre next season, it's no contest.

To be fair, I did enjoy one Edmonton production - the Turandot from a few years ago, the highlight of which was Sally Dibblee's Liu. It was the best singing I've ever heard here... Except for Kathleen Battle, of course, if I could remember it.

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