The Cantos Music Foundation and Calgary Opera provide a dining aria

Two of Calgary’s most innovative arts organizations the Cantos Music Foundation and Calgary Opera will conspire to present Opera Kaleidoscope a free noon-hour concert of operatic and organ music at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Tuesday August 14. This program part of the Cantos à la Carte Goes to the Opera series will include some of the most colourful and tuneful arias of the last two centuries as performed by members of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Development Program. Carlos Foggin will also play George Gershwin’s unforgettable Rhapsody in Blue on the magnificent Carthy organ. The Cantos Music Foundation is well known in the community for instigating musical partnerships. As executive director Andrew Mosker says “one week we’re working with the Calgary folk festival another with the C-Jazz festival or Mount Royal College the next with Calgary Opera. Our organization exists to reach out to the community and provide unique musical offerings using the resources that we have at our disposal including our collection of keyboard and electronic instruments.” Two of the instruments from the foundation’s collection a harpsichord and the rare “Rhapsody in Blue” piano will be used during the Opera Kaleidoscope concert. The “Rhapsody” piano is an arresting sight: a Steinway grand piano encased in a blue maple veneer inlayed with over 400 mother-of-pearl stars. (For more information on this piano and the hundreds of other unique instruments in the Cantos collection take a virtual tour of its gallery at Mel Kirby is the lucky man who will tinkle Gershwin’s ivories during the concert. He is also the co-ordinator of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Development Program the only one of its kind in Western Canada. Now entering its third year the program provides seven months of intensive study in all aspects of operatic training. Besides vocal coaching eight of Canada’s operatic stars of tomorrow study acting movement languages vocal repertoire and stage combat for those moments when swordplay is required. Kirby says that the program is “a bridge in every way between the academic study of opera and a fully professional career.” Opera Kaleidoscope will feature two alumni of the program Andrea Hill (mezzo-soprano) and Derek Johnston (tenor) as well as Benjamin Covey (baritone) who will be entering the program in the fall. They will sing music written by a virtual who’s who of opera composers including Mozart’s effervescent “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (I am the Birdcatcher)” from The Magic Flute Puccini’s heart wrenching “Che Gilida Manina (How Frozen is Your Tiny Hand)” from La Bohème and George Gershwin’s sultry classic “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. One of the highlights of the program will be Covey’s rendition of “Frobisher’s Aria” from Frobisher by John Estacio and John Murrell which Calgary Opera premiered earlier this year. For those who missed the performances in Calgary Frobisher will be presented during the Banff Arts Festival at the Eric Harvie Theatre on August 10 and 12 with Covey in the title role. Although Frobisher is less than a year old it has the distinction of being the first opera to be performed in Nunavut. In 2 Hill Johnston and other participants in the Emerging Artist Development Program took part in a tour of the far north presenting an abbreviated version of the opera in Yellowknife Norman Wells and Iqaluit in a school that overlooks Frobisher Bay. Following that performance Kirby says Inuit elder Matthew Nuqingaq did a drum dance to pay tribute to the performance the first tour of any opera company in Iqaluit. “It was an amazing tribute to his ancestors and to people from history who he believed were in the room as well.”