It started with a festival - three classic operas performed in a theatre in Toronto. But when it became apparent that there was a need for a national opera company, an organization was founded that would go on to become one of the largest performing arts organizations in the country.
The Canadian Opera Company was born in 1950, and is now one of the major opera companies in North America. The Company has toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States, and has delighted audiences as far away as Australia and Hong Kong, all the while finding the time to record frequently and develop special operatic presentations for children.
More than just a group of performers, the COC also provides a training program for young professional singers, and a series of commissions of new works from both up-and-coming and established composers.
Opera Viva is a history of the Company, but it is more than that: it is also a history of Canada’s cultural growth in the second half of the twentieth century, a time when the Canadian Opera Company became central to Canada’s musical life. As the story of the Company unfolds, the figures and personalities that were integral to the building of this landmark of Canadian culture are brought to life.
Ezra Schabas is professor emeritus, University of Toronto, and was Principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music (1978-1983). He has written two major biographies: Theodore Thomas: America's Conductor and Builder of Orchestras (University of Illinois Press, 1989), and Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian (University of Toronto Press, 1994), which won the 1995 City of Toronto Book Award.
Carl Morey is a frequent writer, lecturer, and broadcaster on opera, and includes among his many publications An Opera Sampler: Miscellaneous Essays on Opera (Dundurn, 1998). During thirty years as professor of Musicology at the University of Toronto, he occupied the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music (1991-2000), and was the Dean of the Faculty of Music (1984-90).
"Shabas and Morey sweep us briskly through the COC's impressive history, showing how, from rather na and limited beginnings, the company developed into the sophisticated and viable artistic presence it is today."
"Opera Viva has the good looks of a coffee table book and the solid yet lively contents of a good history book."
"a coffee-table style book, with gorgeously reproduced photosIt tells a concise and engaging story that will appeal to all opera lovers."
"For many people, the lavish illustrations that accompany this account of the Canadian Opera Company will come as a surprise. There have been few books that deal exclusively with Canadian artistic matters that also have such visual splendour. Can Canadians finally be getting over their sense of cultural inferiority? This book would appear to signal the affirmative."
"Ezra Schabas and Carl Morey have served the record splendidly in Opera Viva, a history of the first half-century of the Canadian Opera Company. It has a drama and color that well refelct its subject."