Stage Door News
Toronto: Opera by Request and the Berlin Wagner Gruppe presents “Der Ring des Nibelungen” February 14-17
Friday, October 4, 2019
For the 2nd time in Canada
Toronto's artist-driven cooperative, Opera by Request, will be joining forces with the Berlin Wagner Gruppe to present the complete Wagner Cycle: Der Ring des Nibelungen, from February 14-17, 2020. Taking place over the Family Day weekend, the cycle will be presented at OBR's regular home, College St. United Church, 452 College St., corner of College and Bathurst.
OBR previously presented the four operas of the Ring Cycle between 2011-2016. It was the feeling of many in those casts, some of whom were discovering this work for the first time, that the full impact of each opera could only be experienced in the context of the entire cycle. Hence the upcoming project, which has been presented in Canada only once before. The operas will be presented in a semi-staged format, with accompaniment by piano and various additional instruments.
Opera by Request partners with the Berlin Wagner Gruppe
When I started putting together the cast for the OBR Ring Cycle, it was uppermost in my mind to invite some guest performers alongside our stalwart local artists. This formula proved highly successful for Der Rosenkavalier, with benefits to all concerned and to our audience.It was natural that I begin by contacting Canadian/German soprano and former Eckhardt-Grammattee finalist Vanessa Lanch, who performed two roles with OBR before moving to Vienna in 2011, and who has returned on two other occasions for additional performances. Vanessa is now living in Berlin and mentioned appearances with the Berlin Wagner Gruppe, headed by Peter Furlong.Interested in finding out more about the Gruppe and its founding director, a quite unrelated "Like" appeared on a Facebook posting by soprano Antonina Ermolenko, promoting her appearance in OBR's Anna Bolena. The "Like" was from none other than Peter Furlong.How do you know Peter, I asked Antonina? She replied, in her own words...
"Over ten years ago, I was a resident artist at DiCapo Opera Theatre in New York City, which basically involved doing compromario roles and singing in the chorus. In their production of Madama Butterfly, I was a chorister and sang the role of La Cugina. Peter was portraying Pinkerton and was one of the very few leading artists, who would always make a point of spending time with the chorus and resident artists, and that endeared him to us. Much later, when I was first venturing into Europe, I reached out to as many singers as possible for some recommendations of coaches and conductors to work with, and Peter was, in fact, the only person to write me back. Not only remembering who I was, but connecting me to some wonderful musicians who have become a cherished part of my learning and performing experience." - Antonia Ermolenko, Soprano
That convinced me to pursue this contact with purpose. Through the outlets now available via Skype, websites, and You-Tube, we have assembled a stellar group of singers from the Berlin Wagner Gruppe, who will complement the strong roster of local and other imports for what promises to be a first-class production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
- William Shookhoff, OBR Director
BERLIN WAGNER GRUPPE
Founded in 2017, Berlin Wagner Gruppe presents full performances of Wagner operas in concert and semi-staged format. We operate by collective collaboration - performers share both costs and profits. It provides singers with the opportunity to study, rehearse, and perform a full Wagner role with a complete cast, and it gives our audience the unique opportunity to hear Wagner (and Wagnerians!) up close and personal.
Read more about Berlin Wagner Gruppe at: berlinwagnergruppe.com
- Miriam Gordon-Stewart
- Susan Tsagkaris
- Andrew Tees
- Robert Martin
- Vanessa Lanch
- Peter bass
- ...and over 30 more!
Several members of the previous casts, which include alumni of the COC Ensemble and COC Opera Chorus, will return to repeat their roles, and will be joined by several newcomers from across Canada, Europe and the United States.
The role of Brunnhilde will be shared by Miriam Gordon- Stewart and Susan Sagkaris. Ms. Gordon-Stewart is co-Artistic Director of Virginia's Victory Hall Opera and a former resident soprano with the Hamburg Staatsoper. She has appeared in two other Ring Cycles as Helmwige (Bayreuth Festival) and Sieglinde (Australian Opera). Ms. Sagkaris, a COC Ensemble alumna, has appeared with the Florida Grand Opera as Turandot and has performed the role of Strauss's Elektra throughout Europe.
Supporting Cast and More
Alumni from Canada and abroad!
Another alumna of the Bayreuth Festival is Vanessa Lanch who will sing Sieglinde, Freia and Gutrune. A native Canadian with several previous OBR appearances to her credit, she is now a member of the Berlin Wagner Gruppe and for four seasons was a member of the Bayreuth Festival Chorus where she also appeared as an Edeldame in Lohengrin and a Blumenmadchen in Parsifal, and where she recently performed Sieglinde in concert at Haus Wahnfried, Wagner's former residence.
Other members of the Berlin Wagner Gruppe include tenor Peter Furlong (Siegmund), who has sung Lohengrin and Max (Der Freischutz) in numerous German cities, and Cavaradossi (Tosca) in Italy. He created the role of Salamone Mortara in Cilluffo's opera Il Caso Mortara. He will be joined by Julie Wyma, who will serve as stage consultant for the entire Cycle, and will sing the roles of the Forest Bird, Ortlinde and the Third Norn. Ms. Wyma performs frequently throughout Germany as Queen of the Night, Gilda (Rigoletto), and Marie (Bartered Bride).
Notable COC Ensemble alumnae include Andrew Tees, who will share the role of Wotan with COC Chorus member Michael York, Robert Martin (Siegfried), and Lenard Whiting (Loge).
DAS RHEINGOLD - FRIDAY, FEB. 14, 2020, 7:30PM
DIE WALKÜRE - SATURDAY, FEB. 15, 2020, 6PM
SIEGFRIED - SUNDAY, FEB. 16, 2020, 2PM
GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG - MONDAY, FEB. 17, 2020, 3PM
DIE WALKÜRE - FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020, 6PM
DAS RHEINGOLD - SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2020, 1:30PM
SIEGFRIED - SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2020, 6:30PM
GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG - SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2020, 3PM
ST. MATTHEW'S UNITED CHURCH
25 HOLLOWAY STREET
Contact us for tickets and more!
For complete cast and ticket information, as well as precise performance times for each opera, please visit our event website:
or phone 416 455-2365.
Illustration: Brünnhilde. © 1910 Arthur Rackham.