EVENTS, MEDIA, INTERVIEWS
We celebrated the birthday of ISIS AND OSIRIS, A New Canadian Opera by composer Peter-Anthony Togni and librettist Sharon Singer with the first live performance of the Love Scene from Act One with singer Andrea Ludwig, mezzo soprano and Joseph Angelo, tenor. The house was sold out and amazing comments and compliments about the opera have been coming in by email, phone and Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Isis.Osiris.Opera
Event Sponsor: Richard Girardin, CFP, STATE FARM INSURANCE.
INTERVIEW WITH THE LIBRETTIST AND THE COMPOSER
It was always a dream of mine to write an opera. I am a published poet, and I love the beauty of words. For the last 15 years I have been working with musicians and composers who have set my work to music. I found that such an exciting experience, and so thrilling to hear my words expressed by a singer, that I naturally progressed to the next thing – opera, which is such a beautiful expression of all the arts – music, words, acting, singing, dance, architecture in the sets, costumes. It’s a total fulfilment for an artist, I think to see one’s work presented on stage--seeing my words become a world is just a fabulous thrill.
I have loved ancient Egypt ever since I discovered it in my 20s. It was a world of such beauty and harmony. In the sculptures and architecture and poetry that remain from that culture, there is a noble solemnity,
Isis and Osiris is a wonderful story of a great love of the ages. While the setting is definitely ancient Egypt, the story is about real human beings and their emotions – pride, jealousy, lust for power, incest, treachery and hatred pitted against an eternal love, loyalty and devotion: everything a great opera should have! Isis and Osiris, who are sister and brother, are the king and queen of Egypt.
Their brother Seth is an unhappy, frustrated, violent man. Seth will allow nothing to stand in the way of his rise to power. This story is very accessible to everyone. Who can’t identify with wanting the great love? Who doesn’t read every day in the news the story of leaders who will stop at nothing to gain or retain their power. This story, although set in the pre-history of ancient Egypt is actually very contemporary, because human desires do not change. In writing the libretto, I also played with the concepts of destiny and free will.
The characters are not stereotypes of the good and the bad, they are
people who make choices. To make Egypt come alive, be humanized, that was the challenge of the libretto. When everything around her is telling Isis to take the safe path, to keep in her comfort zone, she risks her life to rescue her husband Osiris, and bring him back to Egypt. Eventually, in order for her to conceive Horus and a great line of pharaohs, Isis must use every ounce of her strength, her faith and her powerful magic to try to bring Osiris back from the dead. Does she succeed? Even the gods of Egypt hold their breath when she performs her incantations. To find out what happens, come to see the opera.
Isis and Osiris are the lovers who never give up hope, never lose their connection, never entirely despair. Their love is more powerful than death, like that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Also, there are very contemporary ideas in this opera, such as the argument between Osiris and Seth about the ideal ruler and whether there is ever any justification for war. At one point Isis says, “thousands cannot die for one man’s lust for power.” Don’t we read about such people in the headlines every day?
Peter’s music is so beautiful, lyrical, and melodic. In the music he has written, he has captured the emotions that I wrote in the text. I am so impressed with his bountiful creativity, his passion and his desire to create these people in the nuances of his music. In opera, the beauty of the words and the music are the most important aspects to me.
Perhaps that was the case a hundred years ago, but now millions of people listen to the Metropolitan Opera of New York on radio, and since the MET has started to broadcast their operas LIVE IN HD they have 26 million people worldwide watching the opera in their local movie theatre. Two years ago, this brought in $126 million dollars to the MET. This shows that opera can be entertainment for everybody.
We are very excited about creating a brand new Canadian opera. We had great success in presenting a part of Isis and Osiris at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2010. We had a standing room only crowd, and the piece was received with tremendous enthusiasm. The AGO was thrilled with the reaction of the crowd and lots of people who had never been to an opera before said they can hardly wait until Isis and Osiris has its world premiere in Toronto. And because they enjoyed what they saw so much, many people said there were going to attend more operas!
Opera is an art form that needs more than ticket sales to cover its costs. Paying for singers, musicians, costumes, sets and all the other expenses necessitates additional funds. Opera has always needed the patronage of sponsors, donors, and politicians. Regardless of the contemporary popularity of opera, financing a new opera is a challenge and we are asking for your help to make this glorious story into a new Canadian opera with its world premiere in Toronto.
It’s an incredible, powerful story where love triumphs over evil and where innocence is not rewarded, but is acknowledged. It’s a wonderful story in a world that has become so sceptical.
I am not scared to be trying to represent beauty, what I think beauty is.
The first challenge is the time period it’s set in. Nobody has any idea what Egyptian music sounded like. That’s both a challenge and a gift.
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