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Canadian Opera Company Presents Two One Acts, A FLORENTINE TRAGEDY and GIANNI SCHICCHI, 4/26-5/25

Related: A FLORENTINE TRAGEDY, GIANNI SCHICCHI, Canadian Opera Company

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The Canadian Opera Company presents a double bill of one-act operas as part of its 2012 spring season with the Canadian premiere of Alexander Zemlinsky's A Florentine Tragedy and the return of Giacomo Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, last seen with the COC in 1996.  The two operas are presented in a new COC production by the legendary soprano-turned-director Catherine Malfitano and world-renowned conductor Sir Andrew DavisA Florentine Tragedy is sung in German and Gianni Schicchi is sung in Italian, both with English SURTITLES™.  The double bill of A Florentine Tragedy/Gianni Schicchi runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 26, May 2, 5, 12, 15, 18, 20 and 25, 2012. 

The COC's double bill is one of the rare times that A Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi have been paired together.  The two works were written just a year apart, with Zemlinsky's A Florentine Tragedy premiering in Stuttgart in 1917 and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, and both use Florence as the backdrop for their respective stories of familial turmoil. 

Catherine Malfitano makes her company debut directing the COC's double bill, an opportunity that marks the first time in Malfitano's career that she has had the chance to be involved in a production of A Florentine Tragedy.  Malfitano made her debut as stage director in 2005, following a career as America's leading operatic soprano, having portrayed over 70 roles and given more than 1,400 performances at all the major opera houses of the world.  As a director, she has staged productions for Central City Opera Festival, Florida Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, English National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

The COC's new production uses Florence's breathtaking cityscape as the canvas on which Malfitano draws out the themes of class values, morality and excess of riches that underline both operas, with set designs by Wilson Chin, costume designs by Terese Wadden and lighting designs by David Martin Jacques.  Inspired by how A Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi are linked in time and subject but can feel representative of two very different worlds, Malfitano's concept unites the two operas by having them take place within the same Italian palazzo but physically sets them in different time periods. 

Sir Andrew Davis makes a return to the opera company to lead the COC Orchestra, having delighted audiences with his conducting debut with the COC in 2011's Ariadne auf Naxos.  With the double bill, Davis takes audiences on a musical journey starting with Zemlinsky's late-Romantic score that shifts from the dark and sinister to the light and shimmery, and then through Puccini's quick-fire composition, with harmonies and lyrical passages that echo the hilarity and solemnity of the opera's twisted plot. 

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by Richard Sasanow