UofT Opera | History
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UofT Opera

History

A rich training ground, a rich heritage

 

Established in 1946, University of Toronto Opera is a unique training ground in Canada. With a class (or ‘cast’) of around 20 singers, UofT Opera operates more like a company-based opera house than a traditional university music faculty. Limited admission ensures that every student benefits from the exceptional training offered by our renowned faculty. A busy season of three productions with orchestra, excerpt concerts and recitals allows every student to put their continually-honed skills to the test. Over its 70 years, University of Toronto Opera has seen many of Canada’s premiere talents train in its halls. Jon Vickers, Teresa Stratas, Adrianne Pieczonka and Russell Braun are only four of the many artists we are honoured to name among our alumni. Now in our eighth decade, we are proud to continue the tradition of excellence established by so many who have come before.

First steps

1946-1959

 

The Opera School started with a shoestring budget of $500. In December 1946, the Opera School presented its first performance in Hart House Theatre: a program of excerpts that included La Traviata, La Bohème, Otello, Fidelio, and Der Rosenkavalier. The first full-length production was Smetana’s The Bartered Bride in April 1947. Nicholas Goldschmidt conducted and Herman Geiger-Torel was the stage director. The Opera Festival succeeded beyond all expectations. By 1954, the “Opera Festival” was granted letters patent and became the Opera Festival Association of Toronto. The Opera Festival and the Opera School maintained close ties. In 1959, the Opera Festival became the Canadian Opera Company.

A new home

1964-1971

 

The MacMillan Theatre,
The Edward Johnson Building

 

In 1964, the Opera School was given a new home at the University of Toronto. The Edward Johnson Building, named for the great Canadian tenor who became general director of the Metropolitan Opera, was officially opened on 2 March 1964. Its centrepiece was the MacMillan Theatre, named for Canada’s only musical knight, Sir Ernest Campbell MacMillan.The MacMillan Theatre opened with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring.

Growing Opera

1978-present

 

Establishing Canada’s Premiere Opera School

 

Under the direction of James Fraser Craig, Stephen Ralls, Michael Albano and Sandra Horst the Opera School has continued to succeed not only as a professional training program but a Masters program of study through the University of Toronto. The continuously  high standard of excellence and achievement has kept the legacy of opera in Toronto and Canada thriving.

1997-2016

Past productions

Dialogues of the Carmelites 1999

L’Elisir d’amore 2007

Candide 2010

Albert Herring 2014