The University of British Columbia’s Department of Theatre and Film and the School of Music’s Opera Program are forging closer ties by merging its productions seasons in 2014/2015.
[pullquote]The combined opera and theatre season of shows will be unique among Canadian post-secondary programs and will provide an expansion of the opportunities to enjoy great live events on the UBC Vancouver campus.[/pullquote]Considered a “landmark merger”, the alliance has been in the works since the founding of the UBC Opera ensemble in 1995. According to the university’s website: “the combined opera and theatre season of shows will be unique among Canadian post-secondary programs” and will provide a “marvelous expansion of the opportunities to enjoy great live events on the UBC Vancouver campus”.
First up is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Sep 25-Oct 11) in the Frederic Wood Theatre. Directed by Stephen Heatley, this production is set in modern day New Orleans during Mardi Gras and features original music by Richard Link performed live onstage. Considered one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, the play’s gender bending and sexual confusions are heightened against the backdrop of Mardi Gras.
The second season show is Bedrich Smetana’s comedic opera, The Bartered Bride (Nov 13-15), a mainstay in opera houses around the world. This story of love, arranged and unarranged, is played as relationships and assignations are put to the test against a carnival atmosphere in the village with the inevitable happy ending not quite as expected. Conducted by Czech musician Norbert Baxa, the opera will be sung in Czech.
Also in November, Theatre & Film students join to create a feature length film entitled Naked Cinema (Nov 27-29). Under the stewardship of UBC alumni and award winning filmmaking collaborators Bruce Sweeney and Tom Scholte, the UBC Theatre and Film students create an original feature length film from start to finish. The work is inspired by Lars von Trier’s DOGMA 95 Manifesto, which seeks to strip all manner of artifice from the filmmaking process, designed to free artists on both sides of the camera.
The New Year gets underway with The Bacchae 2.1 (Jan 22-Feb 7). In addition to Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy, the script draws from German literary theorist Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, Valerie Solanas’ The S.C.U.M. Manifesto and Joan Nestle’s Lesbian Herstory Archives; all finding a their place in Euripides’ theatrical celebration of the god Dionysus, set in a world both ancient and modern.
The second opera of the season is Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Feb 5-7) at the Chan Centre in which servants Figaro and Suzanna find themselves in a tangled web prior to their wedding day. Count Almaviva, bored of his wife, has romantic intentions with Suzanna and to save both marriages, everyone becomes involved in elaborate schemes, which include an amorous teenager, an old maid, a drunken gardener, and a silly young girl.
It is then back to the Frederic Wood Theatre for the romantic musical The Triumph of Love (Mar 19-Apr 4) from MFA directing candidate Barbara Tomas. When the brilliant princess Leonide becomes smitten with Agis, the rightful heir to the kingdom that was usurped by Leonide’s family, the girl must bend her gender and rescue her man from his stuffed-shirt uncle and sour-puss aunt. All in a tongue-in-cheek, modern musical adaptation of the classic 18th century romantic comedy by Pierre Marivaux.
A Vancouver community choir circa 1985 is the subject of the one-act comedic opera Choir Practice (May 8-9), by Juno award nominee Stephen Chatman. After auditioning a stutterer and enduring interruptions by a clown, a diva and a belly dancer, a community choir conductor attempts to conduct, but fails. The ensuing vocal duels lead to more than a little hanky-panky with its hour of slapstick innuendo and the eclectic music of Chatman.
The season closes with the Italian opera La Traviata (Jun 20 + Jun 25-27) telling the tale of doomed love between the famous courtesan Violetta and the handsome Alfredo. An opera filled with lavish parties, true love, evil deceit, and heartbreak, La Traviata unveils an unforgiving world of morality and hypocrisy.
For more information on the 2014/2015 UBC Theatre and Opera season visit http://theatrefilm.ubc.ca.