Unique in Canada - as the only opera company (professional or amateur) presenting a full season of opera in repertory - Opera Pro Cantanti is experiencing that highest level of acheivement possible - IMMITATION!
Already, other companies are emerging and copying our model! Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so thank you! We wish you all great success!
Opera Pro Cantanti began in 2007 when a small group of singers self-produced 4 performances of Verdi's Rigoletto. One year later, after adding Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Bellini's Norma to their list of operas....OPC became Canada's first and only repertory opera company! Since then, we have given over 200 performances of eight major operas.
Here is a short "profile" video featuring artistic director, Richard Williams, speaking about Opera Pro Cantanti and the occasion of their 5th Anniversary.
OPC Video Profile
Video courtesy of Garry Chekora
Many, many singers have come and gone over the years, and the size of the company has fluctuated between 12 and 30 singers. The most remarkable thing about OPC is the shocking number of singers who started out as chorus and improved quickly enough to take on huge leading roles within a couple of years! No less than seven singers have made that transition over the past 6 seasons!
OPC is "member-financed". Artistic Director, Richard Williams, insists that this way, he remains free to make artistic decisions with no consideration given to what the audience may or may not like. OPC's first mandate is to provide the opportunity for local singers to prepare and perform these operas. Our second mandate is to remain within the intentions of the composer. We will not alter or update these operas in an effort to draw a larger audience, or to make them more palatable to the audience, or easier to understand. Any changes we do make are simply to make it possible for us to perform the opera. The composers and their librettists are the geniuses here, not the 'director'!
Singers who join OPC all become "members" of the company. There is no distinction between "leading artist" or "chorus".
When not performing one of their roles, you will see professional level singers alongside their colleagues singing chorus! This is an important distinction. Most opera companies have a status-gap between the singers of the chorus and the singers who sing lead roles. We don't.
The lead singers in OPC recognize that we would not be able to sing our roles were it not for the hard work and dedication of those singers willing to support us by singing the smaller roles and chorus parts. We are all proud members of a collective, a group of singers who simply love to sing opera together - whether it's a leading role, small role or chorus.
Everyone capable of taking on a lead role is offered the opportunity. Artistic Director Richard Williams never auditions singers. "Their capabilities will emerge soon enough!" he says "you can't hide great singing!"