Opera on the Avalon

Earlier this summer, I spent three weeks as a faculty member for Canada’s newest training program for young singers, Opera on the Avalon in St. John’s, Newfoundland. There were 74 singers from across Canada and the US. The level of student singers was very high, many of whom had already completed university degrees in performance from a variety of schools including Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, University of Western Ontario and McGill. The faculty comprised some of Canada’s best performers who were joined by some leading experts from the US.

It was a great opportunity for me to visit St. John’s as I had never been there before. Those of you who have been there know that it is a fabulous city brimming with rugged beauty and friendly people (and lots of hills to walk). It was also an opportunity for me to conduct an opera I had never conducted before, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. It is a fascinating opera which is very challenging for the performers due in part to the complex tonalities and rhythms. It is Britten’s first  chamber opera requiring a small orchestra of only 13 players. It is astounding how Britten was able to achieve a huge range of emotions and colours with this piece through his brilliant skills of orchestration. I loved conducting this opera.

The above photo of some faculty members from left to right in the front row: Peter Strummer, Benjamin Butterfield, Steven Philcox; back row: Tyrone Paterson (me), John Fanning. Some of us decided to walk back to the B&B that night and halfway there, it started to pour rain completely soaking our tuxedos!

There are many excellent young aspiring opera singers and Opera Lyra is committed to nurturing upcoming talent whenever possible. Opera Lyra has its own training program which offers performance and training opportunities to some of Canada’s most promising young singers. For more information, please consult our website at www.operalyra.ca

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