Stage Door News

Toronto: Toronto celebrates Jessye Norman with a series of events starting February 11

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Toronto celebrates the life, art and works of Twelfth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate Jessye Norman, the iconic American opera star, humanitarian and civil rights activist, through a series of events starting Monday, February 11th, 2019.   Visit for details on all the events.

Divine: A Jessye Norman Tribute 

TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West

Monday, February 11 to Wednesday, February 13

Presented in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival, this special tribute features three screenings and a candid live conversation with Jessye Norman. Film screenings include: The Tales of Hoffman (1951), directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (February 11 at 6:30 PM); Jessye Norman Sings Carmen (1989), a behind-the-scenes documentary directed by Albert Maysles of Norman’s recording of Bizet’s opera with conductor Seiji Ozawa, followed by Oedipus Rex (1993), director Julie Taymor’s theatrical adaptation of Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio featuring Jessye Norman as Jocasta (February 12 at 8:30 PM); Diva (1981), an exhilarating fusion of high culture and pulp thriller directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix (February 13 at 6:30 PM). Tickets are $14 Adult, $11.50 student/senior and $10 Child/Youth.

In Conversation With…Jessye Norman 

Tuesday, February 12 at 6:30 PM

This in-depth conversation between Jessye Norman and Canadian Opera Company General Director Alexander Neef will focus on Ms. Norman’s tremendous career in opera, her own experience in film, and the ability of gifted filmmakers to translate the operatic art form into the medium of cinema. Tickets are $23.75 Adult, $19.25 student/senior.

Jessye Norman Master Class 
University of Toronto - Faculty of Music
Walter Hall, 80 Queen’s Park
Friday, February 15 at 3:00 PM
Jessye Norman, John R. Stratton Visitor in Music, is one of the world’s most celebrated performing artists and a passionate advocate of arts education. Ms. Norman will lead a rare public 3-hour master class for Voice and Opera students from University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. The master class is open to the public. Free general admission.

Black Opera - Uncovering Music History
Toronto Reference Library, Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, 789 Yonge Street
Saturday, February 16 from 11 AM to 5 PM
This symposium, presented in partnership with Toronto Public Library, traces the heroic struggles of pioneering artists of African origin to enter the operatic world, their fight for acceptance and recognition, their triumphs and accomplishments.

  • 11:00 AM  Opening Concert with soprano Nadine Anyan, tenor Tristan Scott, baritone Korin Thomas-Smith and pianist Angela Park.
  • 11:30 AM  Black Voices in the Opera – A conversation with Dr. Naomi André, author of Black Opera and Dr. Gregory Hopkins, Artistic Director, Harlem Opera Theater, moderated by Dr. Melanie Zeck, Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College.
  • 1:00 PM Three Scenes from Black Opera that Changed the History of Music – Dr. Gregory Hopkins and performers from the Harlem Opera Theater.
  • 2:30 PM Not Your Music: A Conversation on Cultural Appropriation – A discussion with writer and broadcaster Robert Harris and Dr. Naomi André.
  • 3:45 PM Concert Performance
  • 4:00 PM  A Conversation with Twelfth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate Jessye Norman

Freedom Through the Arts Workshops 
In 2003, Jessye Norman helped establish the Jessye Norman School of the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, to provide arts education to students from economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. In 2011, following the presentation of the Eighth Glenn Gould Prize to Dr. José Antonio Abreu, Sistema Toronto was founded to bring the power of music education into the lives of children from the city’s priority neighbourhoods. Partnering with both the Jessye Norman School of the Arts and Sistema Toronto, The Glenn Gould Foundation will bring fifteen students from Augusta to Toronto for four days of workshops and collaboration with the students of Sistema Toronto in what promises to be a transformative cultural exchange.
The Glenn Gould Foundation thanks its Creative Partners of The Twelfth Glenn Gould Prize Celebrations: Canadian Opera Company, Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto Public Library, University of Toronto - Faculty of Music, Sistema Toronto and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.
These events culminate with The Glenn Gould Prize Celebrates Jessye Norman concert on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street W., Toronto). The evening features performances by the COC Orchestra, soprano Nina Stemme, lyric soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, tenor Rodrick Dixon, bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, American jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, and The Nathaniel Dett Chorale directed by Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, with conductors Bernard Labadie, Donald Runnicles, Jean-Philippe Tremblay and Johannes Debus. Viggo Mortensen, Chair of The Glenn Gould Prize Jury, will be among the presenters at the event.  Ms. Norman will be present to receive her award at this ceremony.

Tickets to The Glenn Gould Prize Celebrates Jessye Norman gala concert can be purchased through the Four Seasons Centre Box Office and are available by calling 416-363-8231 or online at Tickets start at $45. Gala tickets which include invitations to the post-concert Gala Reception may also be purchased through the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Sponsored boxes are also available from The Glenn Gould Foundation. Proceeds help to continue and advance the work of The Glenn Gould Foundation.

Jessye Norman made her operatic debut in 1969 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and has since won acclaim for her performances in a wide range of leading roles with the world’s premier opera companies, in solo recitals and in concerts with preeminent orchestras around the globe.  Her exceptional artistry has earned her the reputation as one of the most versatile concert and operatic singers of her time.  She has more than seventy-five recordings of her eclectic repertoire to her credit. She is well known for her mastery of the music of Richard Strauss and Wagner, two of Glenn Gould’s favourite composers.  Given the exceptional range of her voice, she has sung soprano, mezzo-soprano and alto repertoire throughout her career.  Ms. Norman is the recipient of many international awards and honours including The Kennedy Center Honor, five Grammy awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for Classical Music, more than 30 honourary doctorates, the NAACP’s Springarn Award and The National Medal of Art, presented to her by President Barack Obama.
A true global citizen, Jessye Norman has sung at two Presidential Inaugurations, President Jimmy Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday concert, the 70th birthday concert to free Nelson Mandela (seen by 600 million viewers), the first commemorative concert at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks, and was chosen by France to sing La Marseillaise for the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
Known as a devoted mentor and generous supporter of young artists and emerging talent, Ms. Norman is also admired for her humanitarian contributions and her passionate advocacy of arts education which includes helping to establish The Jessye Norman School of the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.

Photo: Jessye Norman. © Carol Friedman.