Maureen Batt, Halifax – October is a great month to see Canadian operas! Toronto boasts its usual array of standard repertoire choices, but this month there are also fabulous Canadian works, including the COC’s multiple performances of Pyramus and Thisbe (Barbara Monk Feldman), and Tapestry’s workshop of Selfie on October 8 and 9 (Chris Thornborrow, Julie Tepperman).
What you might not know is that there are exciting Canadian operas a little further away—in Ottawa, Halifax, and Lunenburg. All of these operas are unapologetically about women—and that’s pretty cool. I mean, I think we all agree Figaro should have been titled Susanna, and Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, Elizabeth. With Salome, Cenerentola, and Tosca they got it right. But these new operas aren’t about just any women. They’re stories about trailblazers.
REGINA JONAS (First woman to be ordained a Rabbi, Berlin 1935)
This week in Halifax, Essential Opera is remounting REGINA (Elisha Denburg, Maya Rabinovitch). It’s part of the Gilsig Series in Jewish Arts and Culture at Dalhousie University on October 8. I play the fictional character of Anna, the student who unveils Regina’s records in a quest for redemption.
NANCY ASTOR, DOROTHY PARKER, EMILY POST (NYC 1927)
Etiquette (Monica Pearce, John Terauds) is a triple character study: practically-perfect-in-every-way Emily Post; acerbic, modern Dorothy Parker; strong and political Lady Nancy Astor. It’s being presented with Denburg’s REGINA at Opera Lyra Ottawa, from October 16 through 18. This means I get three chances to hone my inner Dorothy Parker! (Has anyone else been watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix?)
MARY ANN MAGUIRE and the Sisters of Charity (late 1800s, Halifax, NS)
Another opportunity to learn about fascinating history even closer to home! Maritime Concert Operabrings the story of the Sisters of Charity to life in Halifax on October 23 and 24. Time of Trouble (Elizabeth Raum, Rex Deverell) details the founding of Mount St. Vincent University and the struggles of the Sisters of Charity. Mary Maguire (Sister Mary Francis, later elected Mother Francis) stands up to the archbishop for women’s rights and education.
The best thing for me is playing three very different characters in operas about amazing, unique women. The best thing for YOU is that we all have the chance to experience works by living Canadian composers. The best way to know how a composer wants their work to sound is to work with them directly. I’m pretty pumped that my October will be spent doing exactly that!
Maureen Batt, soprano, maintains a busy performance schedule. She is an avid supporter of new music: creating roles and commissioning works whenever she can. She and Erin Bardua are the co-Artistic Directors of Essential Opera, who is a proud member of Indie Opera T.O. Maureen is the founder of the concert series Crossing Borders.