From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Megan Meister

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Toronto for a Saturday performance that oddly began at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Apparently this is one of the Canadian Opera Company’s most popular subscription series, and I must confess that I like the idea of it starting late enough in the day to run my Saturday errands and still be out of the theatre in time for a nice dinner.  I wonder why more companies don’t do it ?

This was a new production of two one act operas written more or less at the same time—Zemlinsky’s A FLORENTINE TRAGEDY and Puccini’s GIANNI SCHICCHI.

The Zemlinsky is rarely done (in fact, I can’t recall a production since it was done in Santa Fe about thirty years ago) and I had never seen it, although I had heard it on a recording.

It is reminiscent of Strauss’s SALOME (and perhaps not coincidentally is also based on a short play by Oscar Wilde translated into German.)

It is an intriguing piece and deserves to be better known.

If a 4:30 matinee is uniquely Canadian, maybe that might explain something else I witnessed this morning which could be another unusual Canadian custom.

I couldn’t help but notice that the man at the next table from me at breakfast finished his eggs and was left with a plate of fried potatoes.  He then picked up the sugar shaker and poured what looked like half a cup of sugar on the potatoes and then poured ketchup over it and  proceeded to eat this bizarre concoction.

As Prince Orlofsky observes in DIE FLEDERMAUS, “Chacun a son gout.”

Today I go to a 2:00 matinee of a new production of Handel’s SEMELE and tomorrow I attend a performance of LES CONTES d’HOFFMANN after a full day of hearing auditions of some of Canada’s  best singers.

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