Expo 67: This historic event was the highlight of Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967. Expo 67 saw more than 50 million visitors pour onto a new man-made island in the heart of Montreal, built specially for the major international exhibition, over the course of 183 days. It was a defining cultural moment in Canadian history and left a lasting legacy, including for two of today’s contributors. They share their stories of falling in love with opera after experiencing productions at the Expo.
As a 15-year-old boy, then living in Toronto, I was taken by my mother to hear my first opera. It was 1967, and among the many musical events that took place at Expo 67 in Montreal, the Royal Swedish Opera performed Tristan and Isolde. Isolde was sung by Birgit Nilsson, Tristan by Ken Neate, and Brangäne by Kerstin Meyer. It is hard to imagine a more legendary cast.
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Ahh, the European getaway, new and inspiring sights, smells, and sounds; the discovery of beautiful things. In this week's tales of life-changing operatic events, we hear from two patrons of the COC who fell in love with opera while taking a trip across the pond.
My most memorable opera experience was in France in June last year (2015). I was visiting my French boyfriend who was living in Paris at the time and he told me to dress up for an evening surprise. I had no idea what to expect, so I put on a dress and got whisked away in his little Fiat out to the Parisian suburbs of Sceaux. When we arrived, we walked through a beautiful manicured park until we reached the destination. Turns out, he surprised me with an outdoor performance of La Traviata by Verdi with the Château de Sceaux serving as the backdrop. I thought I was dreaming. It was magnificent. I’ve attached a photo taken on my BlackBerry. It absolutely doesn’t do it justice.
When did you first listen to opera? For this instalment of The Opera That Changed My Life, we look at two submissions that found the music that changed their lives during (arguably) the most dramatic time in anyone's life: the teenage years.
La Bohème as a high school student. Act IV, orchestral chords before Mimì sings "Sono andati." That one moment caused me first to shiver and then to weep. Changed my life. I decided this was my career path. And I am fortunate to continue that choice.
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001