Symphony New Brunswick Gets Operatic, with Concerts November 13, 14, 15.

New Brunswick native opera singers Paul Bustin and Sally Dibblee team up with Symphony New Brunswick and conductor Michael Newnham to present an evening of opera favorites.  The program will include selections from two of the most renowned operas- The Marriage of Figaro and Madam Butterfly.

Bustin has been described as “possessing an impressive, resonant baritone voice of wide range and outstanding flexibility”

Sally Dibblee is critically acclaimed as a “tour-de-force of vocal control and expressive flexibility”

“For the first time in many years, Symphony New Brunswick is having a Night at the Opera“ says conductor Michael Newnham. “We are all very excited about working again with Sally Dibblee and Paul Bustin, two of our finest singers, in this special evening of scenes from two of our all-time favourite operas”

The orchestra along with their two soloists will then present selections from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, his most famous comic opera. It is a work filled with charms of Mozart’s music. In addition, selections from Madam butterfly will be presented. The opera tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The famous hit musical Miss Saigon based its plot on Madam Butterfly. “Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is one of the greatest comic works for stage ever written” says conductor Michael Newnham. “Full of excitement, joy, and irreverence, it spans the full gamut of human emotions. Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” encapsulates all the colour and passion that we love about Italian opera. If there were ever a list   of ‘must-see’ operas, these two would certainly be there”

Together, their irresistible charisma will certainly make for an unforgettable evening.

“A Song for All Times” Concert details:
November 13 in Moncton at the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 pm
November 14 in Fredericton at the Playhouse at 7:30
November 15 in Saint John at the Imperial Theatre at 7:30

Concert tickets are available at the door or at the box offices in each city
Moncton, Capitol Theatre (506) 856-4379
Fredericton, The Playhouse (506) 458-8344
Saint John, Imperial Theatre (506) 647-4100

A Musical Journey with Suzie LeBlanc

suzie-large151Suzie LeBlanc:

A Musical Journey with Elizabeth Bishop
by Emilie White / November 1, 2013

Elizabeth Bishop, one of America’s great 20th century poets, had a special place in her heart for Nova Scotia. It was where she lived with her maternal grandparents as a child, a place she called home, and the inspiration and setting for many of her poems.
In 1978, one year before her death, Bishop told the Christian Science Monitor, “You know about the Bay of Fundy and its tides, I imagine, that go out for a hundred miles or so and then come in with a rise of 80 feet. The soil is all dark terracotta color, and the bay, when it’s in, on a bright day, is a real pink; then the fields are very pale lime greens and yellows and in back of them the fir trees start, dark blue-green. It is the richest, saddest, simplest landscape in the world.”
This sense of place, of setting, is what attracted Suzie LeBlanc to Bishop’s poetry, which she discovered serendipitously in a Nova Scotia church basement in 2007. The soprano was moved, and decided to journey with Bishop, a journey that lasted seven years, the longest and deepest project that Leblanc has ever undertaken.
“There was something about places, people and nature, the way that she talks about it: in a way that I feel connected to the Maritimes,” said LeBlanc. “She lived there only as a child and went back to visit as an adult. Her mother was from there, and it was obviously a motherland to her.”
Bishop’s inherent attachment to Nova Scotia is at the heart of the project: a personal journey that connects LeBlanc to Bishop, culminating in a CD of musical settings of Bishop’s poems, titled I am in Need of Music, together with a film that chronicles Leblanc’s journey. LeBlanc made sure the recording of the CD was produced in the province with Nova Scotian musicians. “We wanted to bring her soul back to Canada. She used to say about herself that she was three quarters Canadian and one-quarter New Englander, even though she was born in the States.”
LeBlanc left much of the creativity to the project’s four composers. “Alasdair MacLean and John Plant were also big fans of Elizabeth Bishop,” said LeBlanc. “Christos Hatzis and Emily Doolittle selected their own favourite poems and completely understood them in a fantastic way and a deep way. I didn’t want to get in their way. I wanted them to deliver what Elizabeth Bishop would inspire in them.”
Several well-known American composers had already set some of Bishop’s poetry to music, such as Elliott Carter’s renditions of “Sandpiper,” “Anaphora” and “Insomnia.” Luciana Souza, a Brazilian jazz singer and composer, also set some poems to music, including “Insomnia”. Brazil was Bishop’s home for 18 years, and it was there that she wrote most of her poetry on Nova Scotia.
The latest version of “Insomnia” by Hatzis is inspired by 1960s pop music, particularly the Beatles, and is a completely different take from the dreamy settings of Carter and Souza. In the CD booklet, he writes, “Bishop’s extravagant wit in this poem, particularly the closing and surprising ‘and you love me,’ is driven home musically.” The last words of the poem are repeated, a creative liberty on the part of Hatzis, in an overall catchy framework.
LeBlanc says that she herself experienced some insomnia after the project was completed, but that it was a useful experience for her forthcoming concert tour. The full series of pieces written for the project will be performed with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in February, and other Canadian orchestras have expressed interest. LeBlanc also hopes to tour with the Blue Engine String Quartet, featured on the recording.
The title piece of the project, “I am in need of music”, was set to music by Hatzis who composed “Unbeliever” to form a mini song-cycle. He felt the cycle was incomplete and got permission to add one more song, a setting of Anaphora, which closes the CD.
Together, MacLean and LeBlanc chose four more poems for the project, and those became a triptych. “Dear, my compass,” previously set to music by American composer John Harbison, is included. MacLean wanted his triptych to create “a narrative of family and community, long-lasting love, and, finally, the approaching separation brought about by life’s end.”
Composer John Plant contributed two longer pieces, while Emily Doolittle also offered a longer setting for “A Short, Slow Life.”
LeBlanc was greatly transformed by the experience captured on the bonus DVD. Bishop’s love for the Maritimes centres on Nova Scotia, but in 1932 the intrepid poet also ventured across the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. “Going on the walk for three weeks in Newfoundland, following steps of the same walk described in Elizabeth Bishop’s journal, to really get to know the poetry and to take time off from my busy life in order to step into wilderness and silence, made me decide to do this project.”
I am in need of music, Centredisques (CMCCD 19413). 10 poems by Elizabeth Bishop, music by Emily Doolittle, Alasdair MacLean, John Plant and Christos Hatzis, Suzie LeBlanc, soprano, The Elizabeth Bishop Players, Dinuk Wijeratne, conductor, Blue Engine String Quartet. Bonus DVD: Walking with Elizabeth Bishop.
www.suzieleblanc.com, www.centrediscs.ca, www.themco.ca