Verdi: Simon Boccanegra, October, 2016

POV Keynotes Newsletter

Browse the stories below, or download the PDF with condensed versions of the articles.


Beyond Reality Show Politics: The Glories of Simon Boccanegra

A political thriller set amid the vicious infighting of 14th century Genoa, Simon Boccanegra is proof that little has changed over the centuries.

The opera opens with a dodgy election campaign in which Simon becomes Doge of Genoa despite having no qualifications other than his background as a pirate. He's running for office for all the wrong reasons, and his campaign team are unscrupulous rabble rousers out for money and power.

None of this should surprise anyone who observes politics in action. (The current US presidential race is at least free of the kidnapping, swordfights, and poisoned drinks that plague the opera). In Simon Boccanegra, affairs of state are driven by backroom deals, every political action has a personal motive, and the masses are volatile, fickle, and easily taken in by demagoguery.

As music critic Richard Dyer points out, SImon, our hero starts out as a real lock-up-your-daughters kind of guy. A dashing corsair, renowned for ridding Genoa's coast of North African pirates, Simon had an affair with Maria Fiesco, a nobleman's daughter, and fathered her illegitimate child. Maria's irate father then locked her up (a bit late in the day) in the family palace. Simon farmed the baby out to a nurse while he went back to sea. On the nurse's sudden death, the little girl vanished.

Simon then lets himself be persuaded to stand as the Plebeian candidate for Doge – not because he has a clue about politics, but simply In the crazy hope that all will be forgiven and that Fiesco will let him marry Maria. But Maria dies just as Simon becomes Doge.

All this we learn in a flashback. As the opera's main action begins 25 years later, Simon is still in power. He has exiled many of his political enemies and confiscated what he can of their fortunes. Fiesco lurking in exile and doggedly plotting against Simon, is guardian to Amelia, who was adopted as a foundling by the Grimaldi family and is heiress to their fortune. Amelia's lover, Gabriele Adorno, is also conspiring against the Doge, who had killed his father.

It's obvious where this is going. Simon and Amelia meet and discover that she is his long-lost illegitimate daughter. But there are many reasons to keep their relationship a deep, dark secret.

Meanwhile, Simon's evil henchman and erstwhile campaign manager Paolo covets Amelia for her beauty and her fortune. When Simon tells him he can't have her, Paolo resorts to abduction. Simon now has more than enough on his hands: he must mete out justice, avert war with Venice, put down riots, elude assassination at the hands of the vengeful and now jealous Gabriele – and somehow figure out how to be a good father and a wise ruler.

This all plays out against the chaotic background of 14th century Italy and Its ever-changing snarl of feuding cities, families, and factions – Plebeians and Patricians, Guelphs and Ghibellines (the latter were Medieval Italy's version of the Hatfields and McCoys – or the Montagues and Capulets.

The plot is so tortuous that, as Denis Forman says, it might have been designed by Torquemada. The story is based on a play by Antonio García Gutiérrez, the playwright behind Verdi's Il trovatore – another far-fetched brew of politics, love, coincidence, and violence.

Fortunately, it isn't necessary to unravel all the opera's political complexities. For what stand out most clearly in Simon Boccanegra are its compelling characters, its humanity, and its musical glories.

As OperaJournal blogger Keris Nine explains:

The revelation of Simon Boccanegra ... is that the themes are more important than the plot. It's about the past catching up with the present, about the actions taken in the past having resonance and very real consequences in the future. It's about wasted years, years dragged down by old enmities, misunderstandings and waiting for vengeance, of parents failing their children, of leaders failing their people.

Simon Boccanegra has been called the dark horse of Verdi's mature masterpieces. It is less often performed and less well known than say Aïda or Otello.

But there is a subtlety and an almost geological grandeur to the work's 25-year timespan. Here is the dramatic arc of a man's life – ex-pirate, newly minted politician, tyrant, father, statesman – culminating in the tragic, long overdue reconciliation between those two old enemies, Fiesco and Simon.

James Levine said of Simon Boccanegra: I think there is no other opera ever written in which the climactic final confrontation – the final scene – is between a bass and a baritone, one of them 75 years old, the other 50 years old or so.

Simon Boccanegra is extraordinary too for representing the evolution of Verdi's musical style in a nutshell as it were: a quarter century separates the 1857 original from Verdi and Boito's masterful revision. The final score, says Denis Forman, is great mature Verdi, rolling on from one powerful passage to another. It has the ability of all great music to evoke: we can smell the sea, feel part of the riots, , shrink before the admonitions of Boccanegra: the music speaks clearly.

Maureen Woodall


Verdi's Musical Evolution

From bel canto to Giuseppe Verdi

Verdi's genius, like Victor Hugo's, was hyperbolical and grandiose; he expressed all the common passions with an impetuosity and intensity which produced an effect of sublimity.
George Bernard Shaw

If you want a great work of humanity and wonderful tunes, you're going to love Verdi.
Stuart Hamilton

No operatic composer holds a larger percentage of the repertoire securely in his grasp than Giuseppe Verdi. Not only was his career one of unprecedented length, it was also rewarded with unprecedented popular, material, and international success. Although he referred to himself and his colleagues as "sons of Palestrina," Verdi is at least as much a son of Monteverdi: in his work the vocal melody soars above the bass line; no matter how colourful or dramatic the orchestra, its purpose is to accompany the singers and thus the text.

When the young Verdi entered the profession in 1836, Italian opera had been the leading genre of popular entertainment for 200 years (plus a few decades when operas were the private property of aristocratic families). Although international appeal grew immediately and rapidly, Italy never lost her position of supremacy.

Thus the young Giuseppe Verdi took his place among a long line of professional artisans, all working within a well-established framework of conventions and formulas, all directed towards popular – and therefore monetary – success. If the formulas became a bit threadbare and predictable, there was no perceived need for reform so long as the public continued to purchase tickets.

Giuseppe Verdi himself referred to the period from 1836 to the early 1850s as his "galley years" – i.e., his term as slave to a punishing schedule of deadlines and demands imposed by entrepreneurs and opera houses who insisted on rigid adherence to prevailing methods.

Under such conditions, it was impossible for a composer to develop a truly personal style, but already during these years Verdi was constantly creating melodic figures, harmonic patterns, and even orchestral colours that were specific to the plot or character of the piece – tinta, this is sometimes called, although Verdi preferred the term colorita. It refers to the unique sound world inhabited by an operatic story, and as Verdi's style became more confidently his own, each work has its own distinct musical identity; no two are exactly or even nearly alike.

By the time Verdi "inherited" the bel canto tradition it had become somewhat over-reliant on certain plot devices – most particularly that of the "finale," in which all the main characters are summoned to the stage for one last ensemble number before the act or final curtain, whether or not it makes any sense according to the plot. Many stereotypical character types abound – analogous to those found in silent movie melodramas and TV sitcoms – and clichés of harmony and melody consign many of the scores to the same fate as silent movies: to be fleetingly enjoyed and then disposed of.

Needless to say, given the imaginative genius of a Bellini, a Donizetti, a Rossini, these conventions are infused with vibrancy and vitality, wit and sparkle, pathos and beauty. But the conventional framework is usually discernible – as is obvious to anyone willing to listen to a dozen or so bel canto operas in a row.

Another important aspect of bel canto is its reliance on the celebrity singer – necessary in order to sell tickets and ensure financial health for all, and at his or her best an important artistic collaborator.

Important to the proper presentation of both character and performer is a structure known as the scena, or scene; there is no structural component more characteristic of bel canto opera. Typically this belongs to a single singer, although there may be interjections from other characters or even a chorus. It begins with a passage of recitativo, in which the text, while sung, is meant to convey the rhythmic inflections and tempo variations of speech. This is followed by a slow, lyrical aria-like section called the cavatina, which is self-contained (i.e., it ends with a definitive cadence). This is usually reflective in mood and offers the singer an opportunity to display breath control, expressivity, and legato. Sometimes this is followed by a more up-tempo passage – either measured or in recitative – which connects the number to the concluding cabaletta, a fast section often featuring the rapid passagework and high notes associated with coloratura singing.

In essence, the scena is a self-contained number, virtually designed to guarantee thunderous applause for the performer. There are many examples of short arias comprised only of a cavatina and some of these, too, stand alone.

But Verdi would ultimately aim for a more linear, continuous approach to the telling of a story through music, and the individual aria becomes less prominent as he moves from strength to strength.

That Verdi was working towards a mature and independent style during his "galley" years can be accepted now that so few of the works composed during this period are performed today with any frequency – Nabucco, Luisa Miller, and Macbeth (which was revised) being exceptions.

But in the early 1850s he produced a triple whammyRigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata – so successful that they bought Verdi his freedom (and his farm). All three of these works utilize many of the standard bel canto traditions, including the various components of the scena (one of the greatest examples being Violetta's double aria at the end of La traviata, first act), but in all three, Verdi demonstrated his determination and ability to re-shape existing forms to suit the dramatic requirements of plot, character, and atmosphere. From this point onwards, as Shaw put it, Verdi, stronger and more singly dramatic, broke away from the Rossinian convention....

According to Charles Osborne, a noted writer on Verdi and his operas, in Simon Boccanegra Verdi continued to move away from the old division into self-contained numbers, in the direction of a continuing and dramatically truthful melody.

Osborne goes on to note:

Although the score of Boccanegra is not set out on the page in separate numbers, its various arias, duets, and ensembles, for all their fluidity of form, are in fact identifiable, just as they continued to be in Otello and Falstaff – or, for that matter, Tristan und Isolde or Peter Grimes – all of whose climactic moments emerge from their surroundings as distinctively as in Donizetti, though very differently. The difference really lies in the added interest given to the surroundings. What was once arid recitative is now musically significant material.

What Osborne observes, accepts, and approves of was met with some bewilderment and even hostility when Simon Boccanegra premièred in 1857. Abramo Basevi, a composer, critic, and author of the first study of Verdi's work (1859), wrote:

In this opera Verdi, by searching for new forms to suit the dramatic expression, by attaching a greater importance to the recitative, and by paying less attention to the melody, attempted a manner moving closer to German music. I would venture to say, at least judging from the prologue, that he wished to follow – at a distance, it is true – in the footsteps of the famous Wagner, the subverter of the music of the present. Wagner's system found, and still finds, many opponents in Germany, though it is a country that seems less averse to abstruse harmonies than Italy, and less fond of simple melodies.

Basevi goes on to lament the relative absence of bel canto in the new work, and fears that the voice is given a role lesser in importance to the instruments.

What astounds me is the mention of a potential threat from Wagner's corner as early as 1859! A dozen years later, Verdi wrote an impassioned rebuttal to the charges that he had succumbed to Wagner's influence (Endless chatter ... that I am an imitator of Wagner!!! A fine outcome after thirty-five years to wind up as an imitator!!!).

Perhaps Shaw sets the matter right in his obituary article about Verdi: Now I declare without reserve that there is no evidence in any bar of Aïda or the two later operas [to which we may add the revised version of Simon Boccanegra] that Verdi ever heard a note of Wagner's music [he did] ... Verdi uses the harmonic freedom of his own time so thoroughly in his own way, and so consistently in terms of his old style ....

Cosima Wagner (wife of Richard and daughter of Franz Liszt) famously stated that she could find no discernible difference between Ernani and Falstaff. But she was hardly a disinterested observer, and this remark is proof that delusion can cause blindness.

Throughout his long career (and career is the right word: Giuseppe Verdi was always a businessman as well as a genius, an entertainer as well as an innovator, and he never lost sight of the need to please his audience), Verdi retained what he needed of the bel canto tradition but fashioned its conventions to suit his vision of a complete art work: one in which the form always served the text and the story; the vocal line always illuminated the character singing it; the orchestra always underscored precisely the essence of the dramatic situation as presented on stage; the musical through line of the story was presented in a continuous line (rather than lurching from one "number" to the next); and each opera-poem (to use Signora Verdi's term) inhabited its own musical world.

Verdi's voices and the first two Boccanegras

The fach system (a German term for vocal classification) in widespread use today – which enables the myriad variety of voice types to be identified and categorized – really began developing during the nineteenth century, and thus Verdi made some significant and lasting contributions to it.

During Mozart's time, the simple division of SATB was all that was necessary; major roles were written for specific performers, so as Mozart put it, an aria had to fit its singer like a perfectly made dress. Gradually subdivisions of voice – from the simple baritone and mezzo-soprano to more specific lyric, dramatic, coloratura, etc. – entered the practice and language of operatic composition and production.

One of the first and most significant changes as we progress from Mozart to Donizetti to Verdi was the arrival of the tenore di forza as a romantic lead. Also known as the tenore robusto, the sound produced by this voice type – typified by the role of Manrico in Il trovatore – did not exist in Italian opera before the 1840s (no wonder Rossini hated it!). The tenori di forza maintained their full or chest voice over their entire range, especially the upper notes, which now had the ringing tone (sometimes referred to as squillo) that we associate with tenors today. Tenors in the heyday of bel canto probably used either head voice or a mixture of head and chest (voce mista) in the higher registers, which would have had less carrying power but may have been considered more expressive.

The modern recording which, to my ears, seems to produce a sound comparable to the early 19th-century tenor is Nicolai Gedda's performance of an aria from Auber's La Muette de Portici – you can hear it on YouTube:

It is impossible to know exactly which voice type Bernard Shaw had in mind when he accused Verdi of writing "inhumanly" for the voice. The whole secret of healthy vocal writing, Shaw continued, lies in keeping the bulk of the singer's work in the middle of his range – not the prettiest part of the range and often the weakest. There is, therefore, the constant temptation to use the upper part of the voice almost exclusively, and this Verdi did without remorse.

The issue of tessitura – i.e., the part of the overall range of a role in which the bulk of it lies – is a crucial one in Verdi's vocal writing. Many of Verdi's roles – soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, and bass – present a tessitura often a third – or more – higher than that encountered in bel canto roles, and often in the context of highly charged dramatic situations. This required – and requires – a different kind of training, and perhaps singer, than usually encountered in earlier styles.

Perhaps the most dramatic and controversial voice type associated with Verdi – so closely associated, in fact, that it bears his name – is the Verdi baritone. A dramatic voice, no matter which register, will have to produce sufficient heft to be heard clearly above a fairly large orchestra, with sufficient ease and with sufficient variety of colour to project many often violent emotional states. What distinguishes a "Verdi" baritone is that higher tessitura – the requirement to remain dramatic and tonally vibrant for long passages in the upper register.

Today's opera audiences and producers have come to expect a Verdi baritone sound that may not, in fact, reflect accurately what the composer had in mind. Verdi recordings from the past century include many by "lighter" baritones whose sounds we would not associate with the Verdi repertoire today, but who sang those roles publicly and to acclaim. Perhaps it's time to take a short look at the creators of Simon Boccanegra, the role, in both the original (1857) and revised (1881) versions.

Leone Giraldoni was born in Paris but studied in Florence; one of Verdi's favourite baritones, Giraldoni was chosen by the composer to create the title role of Simon Boccanegra in Venice. He was later to create the role of Renato in Un ballo in maschera (1859). A contemporary wrote of him:

As a performer, [Giraldoni] was praised for the meticulous care that he gave to the interpretation of his roles and his dignified stage presence, an attribute much admired by Verdi. As a singer, he was greatly admired for his high-lying, richly coloured voice, his legato, and his elegant sense of phrasing.

Victor Maurel was French-born and Paris-trained, but also studied extensively in Italy. Wagner heard and admired him in Der fliegande Holländer and Verdi, after hearing him as Amonasro in Aïda, engaged him to play Boccanegra in the première of the work's revised form.

Verdi described Maurel as an extraordinary actor singer. [He] is a Simon Boccanegra whose equal I shall never see. Maurel went on to create the roles of Iago and Fastaff, and to record, albeit late in his career. Thus we can have some small idea as to the kind of voice Verdi knew and expected. According to opera coach Alan Montgomery, the recordings show a voice that has bright focus and size, but the size comes from the bright focus, not from the pushed timbre.

Maurel's biographer, Francis Rogers, can describe the singer's performances from personal experience: The most expressive voice I ever heard – in range a baritone, but he could impart the tenderness and variety of a tenor or the weight and dignity of a bass. A full voice that was never really powerful but had a penetrating quality.

Interesting and revealing that the size of the voice is less of a priority than we tend to make it today– that the power is achieved through focus, and that expressiveness, elegance, and legato are very much prized attributes.

Opera-Poems and Orchestras

In the 1860s Verdi coined a new term: Opere a intenzioni, or operas with a dramatic intent. His use of this term signified the composer's always strong determination to move away from earlier operatic style, with its reliance on individual pieces and focus on individual singers. Verdi's Opere a intenzioni strove to achieve dramatic cohesion in which each component of the work was as strong as the others. This meant that not only the star singers had to be good, but the orchestra, the choruses, the scenery, everything.

While Verdi acknowledged that the old system may have produced successes, as far as he was concerned, God preserve me from having them! Of course, Verdi's ideal required large and well-equipped theatres, on which the composer increasingly insisted for performances of his works.

Verdi's wife, the one-time soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, wrote in 1869:

A magnificent voice and a brilliant artist do not suffice to make an opera-poem of our times understood in all its aspects. It takes the totality: the singing, the playing, the acting, the costuming, the scenery. Everything works together to make up this totality.

Already in the late 1850s Verdi had, through Ricordi, begun issuing production books called dispositioni sceniche, in which detailed descriptions covering every aspect of production were made available for future revivals.

During his early "galley" years, Verdi had not always had sufficient time to include in his scores the profuse and highly specific instructions to singers and players that characterized his middle and late periods. He had also had to accept inferior libretti without the opportunity or authority to rework them to his tastes, as he was to do when working with Francesco Maria Piave. He was now asserting an equally tight control over the mise-en-scène.

Comparisons to Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, or complete art work, may or may not be relevant. We know that Verdi kept himself informed of his German coeval's activities, and must have been at least aware of Wagner's ideas as set forth in his works of prose. But Verdi seems to have been on this path since at least the early 1850s, and was in any case deeply and genuinely dedicated to the preservation of a distinctly Italian operatic art.

According to Bernard Shaw, Verdi's orchestra was, up to the time of his collaboration with Arrigo Boito, for the most part nothing but the big guitar, with the whole wind section in unison or in thirds and sixths with the singer ... Verdi used it unscrupulously to emphasize his immoderate demands for overcharged and superhuman passion, tempting the executants to unnatural and dangerous assumptions and exertions.

Other writers, including opera coach Alan Montgomery, have agreed that Verdi's orchestrations could sometimes be a bit heavy (Montgomery suggests that this is due in part to the composer's early experience writing for band). In fact there are many references throughout the early nineteenth century to problems of balance, not only in Italian houses but throughout Europe, not only between the pit and the stage but within the orchestra itself. Woodwind and brass instruments were usually paired (or, in the case of trombones, in threes), but there was no equivalent tradition governing string sections, which were often so small that an imbalance between them and the other sections was virtually inevitable. Moreover, the lower string sections were frequently insufficient not only in number but in efficiency.

Verdi had heard foreign opera orchestras when overseeing productions of his works in Vienna (1843), London (1847) and Paris (also 1847, and an orchestra described by the composer as slightly better than mediocre).

Verdi set about requesting changes in orchestral personnel to ensure an increase in the number of string instruments, particularly in the lower and middle ranges; he also rearranged seating plans to help create a more homogeneous sound; and he integrated the roles of conductor and concert master to place the ultimate responsibility for performance standard on one pair of shoulders.

Not that Verdi was ever reticent about making his own wishes known! Just before a performance of Simon Boccanegra in the spring of 1857 Verdi made several changes to the viola and cello parts, making them easier to play since, in his words, they are almost always a razza dei cani (pack of dogs) and it is better to change it outright in the score and avoid some mess-up in the performance.

The composer also insisted on adequate rehearsals, and advised conductors to disregard the screams of impresarios and boards of directors concerning the extra expense.

The lower strings in general and the double basses in particular were a critical point of focus in Verdi's orchestral reforms. He was most particular about a full-bodied orchestral sonority, for which the deep tones of the double basses provided a solid harmonic anchor, while also balancing the sound qualities of the woodwinds.

Charles Osborne refers specifically to Verdi's fondness for lower instruments, his imaginative use of solo instruments. In the case of Simon Boccanegra it is a particularly striking passage for bass clarinet, and Osborne describes the overall orchestral colour of the opera as almost unrelievedly gloomy, but Verdi was invariably at his best when he allowed his own pessimistic temperament to infiltrate into every corner of a libretto.

One of the most remarkable innovative ideas in the history of the opera orchestra is Wagner's insistence that the orchestra be hidden from view. In this he found a definite ally in Giuseppe Verdi, who wrote in 1871:

The invisible orchestra! The idea is not mine, but Wagner's; and it is excellent ... It seems impossible that today we tolerate the sight of ... the orchestra, in the middle of the floor, where one can see the tailcoats of the players, the sawing-the-air motions of the conductor.

Again, the influence of Wagner through his prose as much as his music drama: this letter was written a full five years before Wagner's ideal invisible orchestra was finally realized at Bayreuth!

Yet, while Wagner strove to make his orchestra an equal partner to the voice in the unfolding of his music dramas, to Verdi the focus of the drama, of the listening and watching audience, always remained the actor-singer – the carrier of the text – represented in the score by the vocal line.

About his most (only?) important successor in the field of Italian lyric drama, Verdi wrote:

I have heard the composer Puccini well spoken of. He follows the modern tendencies, which is natural, but he adheres to melody, which is neither modern nor antique. The symphonic element, however, appears to be predominant in him. Nothing wrong with that, but one needs to tread cautiously here. Opera is opera, and the symphony is the symphony and I do not believe it's a good thing to insert a piece of a symphony into an opera, simply for the pleasure of making the orchestra perform.

Robert Holliston


Our Artists and Creative Team

Todd Thomas

When your grand opera needs a heroic Verdi baritone, who are you going to call? Verdi specialist Todd Thomas has sung the title roles of Rigoletto, Falstaff, Nabucco and Macbeth, as well as major roles in Il trovatore, La traviata, Attila, La battaglia di Legnano, Aïda, and Un ballo in maschera. Todd now returns to POV to make his role debut as Simon Boccanegra, following his impressive performances as Iago in last season's Otello and Alberich in Das Rheingold.

See Todd Thomas' full bio.

Lara Ciekiewicz

Lara Ciekiewicz washed that man right outta her hair in our high-voltage 2013 production of South Pacific in Concert. Now she's stepping into her first major Verdi role as Amelia. Opera Canada called the Winnipeg-based former barista a natural stage chameleon, able to crack viewers up one moment with her razor sharp comic timing before breaking their hearts the next with her soulful performances.

See Lara Ciekiewicz' full bio.

Phillip Ens

Canadian bass Phillip Ens is Fiesco, a role he sang with the Canadian Opera Company in 2009. Verdi said that this role demands a deep voice with something in it that is inexorable, prophetic, sepulchral. Phillip's international career has included the Metropolitan Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, and Opéra National de Paris.

See Phillip Ens' full bio.

Brett Polegato

Brett Polegato is the villain Paolo (Verdi's test run for the even nastier character of Iago). Brett was last seen on POV's stage as Ford in Falstaff – a performance that Opera Canada Magazine called touching and powerful in true Shakespearean style – terrifically funny, too. He has sung across Canada and internationally, including La Scala, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

See Brett Polegato's full bio.

Jason Slayden

Tenor Jason Slayden is making his POV debut as Gabriele Adorno, a role he has performed with Kentucky Opera. Jason's credits include Rodolfo (La bohème) with Arizona, Virginia, and Vancouver Opera; the Duke (Rigoletto) with Arizona and Memphis Opera; and appearances with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Opera Santa Barbara.

See Jason Slayden's full bio.

Also in the cast are Neil Craighead as Pietro, Joseph Bulman as the Captain, and Tasha Farivar as Amelia's maid.

Glynis Leyshon

Director Glynis Leyshon will imbue the production with her usual thoughtful creativity, using the concept of a man writing his memoirs to frame the opera. The theatrical setting will evoke 14th century Italy, while shedding light on the timelessness of political intrigue.

See Glynis Leyshon's full bio.

The production is realized by Designer Camellia Koo, Lighting Designer Kevin Lamotte, Projection Designer Jamie Nesbitt, and Choreographer Jacques Lemay, and it's all built by POV's able production staff.

Artistic Director Timothy Vernon will conduct the Victoria Symphony in the company première of this great Verdi Opera. Giuseppe Pietraroia directs the POV Chorus.

Maureen Woodall


A Word from our New CEO

POV CEO Ian Rye and POV Artistic Director Timothy Vernon
CEO Ian Rye and Artistic Director Timothy Vernon

Thank you for your sustained encouragement of the work of Pacific Opera Victoria. I feel privileged to continue on this journey with you, to celebrate this art form and to serve our community in new and impactful ways. I look forward to our continued collaboration, and developing this mission together.

I look forward to working with Artistic Director Timothy Vernon, the POV staff and board, and you who have given voice to opera in this city and propelled this organization to the vanguard of art making in Canada. It is through this unique partnership of artists, audience and supporters that Pacific Opera Victoria has established itself as a model of artistic excellence, innovation, and community service.

We will continue the work to increase our impact with diverse audiences locally, nationally and abroad, by developing collaborations, co-productions, and innovative programming, by engaging an ever broader community – and by aspiring to always achieve the highest of artistic standards.

And we are having an impact! In 2016 and 2017 alone, POV's work is appearing on stages at Opéra de Montréal, Calgary Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opéra de Québec, and Vancouver Opera.

Most importantly, the power of the cultured voice will be experienced throughout the Capital region in those places we gather as a public; in schools and community centres; in theatres and recital halls; at the Royal Theatre and our very own Baumann Centre.

There is still much to do as we work together to continually enhance and innovate experiences for audiences; as we broaden our partnership with the finest Canadian and international artists; and as we explore opera in its diversity of forms and arenas and build this dynamic company as a leader in the field.

It's a particular joy for me to continue our exploration of Verdi with this production of Simon Boccanegra. Timothy introduced me to this extraordinary opera, which is truly the dark horse of Verdi's late works.

I hope you enjoy this intriguing season, and I very much look forward to sharing our journey in the coming months and years.

Ian Rye




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