It started with a festival -- three classic operas performed in a theatre in Toronto. But when it became apparent that there was a need for a national opera company, an organisation was founded that would go on to become one of the largest performing arts organisations in the country. The Canadian Opera Company was born in 1950, and is now one of the major opera companies in North America. The Company has toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States, and has delighted audiences as far away as Australia and Hong Kong, all the while finding the time to record frequently and develop special operatic presentations for children. More than just a group of performers, the COC also provides a training program for young professional singers, and a series of commissions of new works from both up-and-coming and established composers. Opera Viva is a history of the Company, but it is more than that: it is also a history of Canada's cultural growth in the second half of the twentieth century, a time when the Canadian Opera Company became central to Canada's musical life.
As the story of the Company unfolds, the figures and personalities that were integral to the building of this landmark of Canadian culture are brought to life.
Ezra Schabas is professor emeritus, University of Toronto, and was Principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music (1978-1983). He has written two major biographies: Theodore Thomas: America's Conductor and Builder of Orchestras (University of Illinois Press, 1989), and Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian (University of Toronto Press, 1994), which won the 1995 City of Toronto Book Award Carl Morey began a life-long interest in opera when he worked for the Canadian Opera Company during its early years. His articles on opera have appeared in such publications as the popular journal Opera Canada, and he has been a frequent broadcaster on opera programs for the CBC. He is Professor of Musicology in the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, where he was Dean, 1984-90, and where he now occupies the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music. His recent publications include MacMillan on Music (Dundurn, 1997), a collection of essays by Sir Ernest MacMillan, and Music in Canada: A Research and Information Guide (Garland Publishing, 1997). He is editor of the musical works of Glenn Gould for the German publishing house Schott.