Younger artist to 'ask questions and problem perceptions' whereas directing The Marriage of Figaro for Calgary Opera

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Aria Umezawa noticed her first opera on the age of eight.

It was at Toronto’s Nationwide Opera Firm and Umezawa didn’t should be dragged there. She felt a right away connection. Her greatest buddy’s mom labored for the corporate, who helped Umezawa and a few of her classmates attend costume rehearsals. Admission was $5.

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By the point she was in Grade 6, she was not solely well-schooled within the classics however fully enamoured by them and opera typically.

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“I keep in mind strolling dwelling from college and simply itemizing out all of the operas with a buddy that we had seen,” Umezawa says. “We have been within the 20s at that time and we have been solely 11 or 12 years outdated.”

As a teen, she was commonly taking in performances from a wide selection of firms in Toronto’s wealthy opera scene, going from The Nationwide Opera Firm to Opera Atelier and Tapestry Opera.

She calls herself the “poster little one for academic programming at opera homes.”

Actually, she noticed so many at a younger age that she doesn’t truly keep in mind if the Marriage of Figaro was amongst her early reveals – “I wish to say sure as a result of it might be so bizarre if I hadn’t,”  she says – or when precisely she first noticed it. However Calgary Opera’s manufacturing of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved comedian opera, which opens Oct. 14 on the Jubilee Auditorium, would be the first time she has directed it.

Umezawa isn’t any stranger to taking up in style operas. Within the 2022/2023 season alone, she directed Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot for Opera Colorado, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in New Orleans and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Evening’s Dream for Vancouver Opera. Calgary’s tackle Figaro is a revival of the 2006 manufacturing from Opera de Montreal, with costumes coming in from Seattle.

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So a few of the “greater conceptual choices” have already been taken care of, she says. Nonetheless, at any time when she takes on a much-loved traditional, she tries to seek out methods to deliver new life to it.

“The problem with one thing so acquainted is retaining curious in regards to the manufacturing and asking questions and seeing the place there could be alternatives to deepen or shift our understanding of a scene,” Umezawa says. “I feel not solely do these operas turn into very acquainted however their efficiency observe turns into acquainted, so the interpretation turns into standardized. So I feel that’s the problem, is to present your self permission to ask questions or problem perceptions of the piece and see if there is a chance to make a novel or fascinating discovery.”

Few operas are as acquainted as The Marriage of Figaro. You don’t should be a dedicated operaphile to know the melody of Mozart’s well-known Overture, for example, or be charmed by its comedic and twisting narrative. It’s centred across the marriage day of family servants Susanna and Figaro, to be sung in Calgary by soprano Lucia Cesaroni and Hungarian bass-baritone Marcell Bakonyi, respectively. They need to foil the lecherous advances of their employer, the Rely (sung by Calgary-based baritone Phillip Addis), who needs to revive a regulation that permits “the lord” to mattress any lady who’s his subordinate on their marriage ceremony night time. He units his sights on Susanna and it’s as much as the servants, plus his spouse The Countess (sung by American soprano Talise Trevigne), to thwart his plans and educate him a lesson.

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True to type, Umezawa sees themes in Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s 237-year-old satire that appear notably pressing and related as we speak.

“The Marriage of Figaro centres on a category subject, however extra particularly a problem of employers leveraging their energy versus the folks they make use of, who’re falling whim to that energy,” she says. “I used to be fascinated by the SAG-AFTRA strike and the WGA strike that’s taking place proper now, and there was an autoworker strike within the U.S., and the way work forces and labour forces are banding collectively at this second in time to say their rights and their values. I feel that’s what Mozart and da Ponte have been commenting on, the way in which that class and energy buildings influence people who find themselves the labour pressure. So it feels very well timed in that method. That is what’s taking place on the earth proper now.”

Marriage of Figaro
Marcell Bakonyi, Lucia Cesaroni, Talise Trevigne, Phillip Addis will carry out in Calgary Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro, HarderLee Pictures. jpg

Umezawa has earned a fame as considered one of opera’s most daring innovators, even when she is delivering a traditional. Calgary Opera creative director Jonathan Brandani, who would be the conductor of this manufacturing, describes her as considered one of opera’s “younger artists within the prime of their careers.” When she first attended a manufacturing of Turandot in Toronto, Umezawa made the choice whereas sitting within the viewers to dedicate her life to opera. Initially, that meant coaching as a singer. She went to McGill College to review vocal efficiency.

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“Once I stood on stage for the primary time as a performer with precise stakes, in entrance of essential folks, I spotted I hated singing,” she says. “Extra particularly, I hated performing.”

After some reflection, she determined to show her consideration to directing operas. She rapidly turned a number one gentle in Canada’s indie opera scene. She was half creative director and co-founder of Opera 5 and co-founder of Amplified Opera. Early in her profession, she got here to Calgary to direct the irreverent The Barber of Cowtown for Cowtown Opera, town’s now-defunct indie opera firm. In 2017, she started a two-year Adler Fellowship on the San Francisco Opera. She was the primary stage director to be awarded the distinguished fellowship in 15 years. In 2021, she returned to Calgary to direct the Vastation, an opera lab digital undertaking mounted through the pandemic.

In the meantime, she has additionally targeted on “altering the tradition” of opera behind the scenes. She developed a workshop referred to as Protected to Run: Bystander Intervention for the Rehearsal Room with Opera McGill and the San Franciso Opera Centre, spoke about anti-harassment and stage intimacy methods on the OPERA American convention and spoke about gender fairness on the Opera Altering Worlds Schooling Summit. Nonetheless, she thinks what opera wants most now’s “extra optimism.”

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“There’s a actual worth to this artwork type that’s price preserving and price preventing for,” she says. “I feel we are able to get very weighed down with the issues of the opera world, however I feel finally whenever you lock into what makes opera so particular, persons are genuinely curious and interesinbout this artwork type. I wish to say I constructed my profession on figuring out and attempting to take away limitations to entry for opera. I try this as a result of I imagine as soon as these limitations are gone, folks actually discover worth in partaking with this artwork type.”

Calgary Opera presents the Marriage of Figaro on Oct. 14, 18 and 20 on the Southern Jubilee Auditorium.

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