Opera 101 with Kristine Dandavino

Opera 101 with Kristine Dandavino

Greg Finney

Fach: a German word that classifies singers by vocal type, is very important in opera. The Fach sytem was created in Germany to help opera houses hire singers based on the weight, size and colour of their voices.” - Kristine Dandavino

On Sunday, April 10, Oshawa Opera will be taking us back to school with their upcoming Opera 101: What the Fach? Sixteen local singers and emcee Alexis Ward will take the stage, with Artistic Director Kristine Dandavino at the piano to bring us the highlights of the “standard canon”. We had a quick Q&A with Kristine to find out more about this show.

Can you give us the “Cole’s Notes” version of the history of Oshawa Opera?

I founded Oshawa Opera in April 2013, which seems like 800 years ago, with the vision of bringing quality operatic concerts to the residents of Durham Region.

How did you come up with this concept?

My dearest daughter, ZoƩ, had recently turned three. She still was not sleeping through the night. I am quite certain, Oshawa Opera was born via sleep deprivation. I figured, if I was going to be up at night with my party animal of a child, I might as well be productive with my time!

What is the repertoire selection process? What’s the most difficult part of that process? What’s your favourite part?

For Opera 101, the selection process was fairly easy. I asked the singers to send me a list of arias that were performance ready and fairly accessible to the general public. The most difficult part is telling a singer “Um no, you can’t sing that even though I adore that aria!” I love giving opportunities to singers, I love supporting them, giving them the chance to try an aria that perhaps that speaks to them and having them share it with our audience!

Tell us about the venue.

The Arts Resource Centre Auditorium is nestled in downtown Oshawa, near City Hall and near the Art Gallery. It is an ideal venue that is intimate, a real theatre, fully accessible for our audience members that require support, it is also accessible via transit! Located on the second floor, the lounge offers a beautiful view of Oshawa and showcases art work. It is an “in your face” kind of feeling and the audience can really connect with the performers.

Toronto is experiencing a sort of Opera Renaissance, would you say that is also true in Oshawa? Do you think this could be a national phenomenon?

I have been trying to find answers to a picture I saw in the archives in Oshawa Museum that stated “Opera House”. The building is no longer there and I have asked several residents if their family would have known about this. Maybe, it was a figment of my imagination? Maybe, it was a Vaudeville Theatre, hard to know.

I do know, that several of our audience members are huge opera fans and several have travelled the world to go hear opera. Some can’t afford the ticket prices at the COC, can’t travel to Toronto, some are brand new members and are very curious. Students and children below the age of 18 can attend all our concerts for free. I want to see children in the audience. I want to see youth! So far, they have all loved it and want to come back. We must be doing something right! We don’t need to dumb it down, the children love the intensity. When you hear a child say “I love the song where you kill the baby!” you can’t get a better review!

As for a national phenomenon, I think people are starving for humane interactions and real gut reactions, people crave passion. We can’t all be on the stage but, we can all be in the audience feeling, living through the singers.

What was the last great movie you saw or re-watched?

Kung Fu Panda. Seriously, I am a mom. What do you think I am going to watch? But, I really could relate with that panda! Give me a break. I love cartoons!

What’s your favourite treat to have for a reward?

My favourite coffee shop in Oshawa is Isabella’s Chocolate Cafe. They serve a level 6 coffee and make their own dark chocolates. The owner knows me well and when I actually take 30 minutes to sit down, rather than dash out, she knows something is up…

If you could share the stage with ANY singer, who would it be and in what?

For opera, Jonas Kaufmann in Cavelleria Rusticana; and I would just adore to be a back up singer for Aretha Franklin.

Anything else in particular you can tell us about the show?

Alexis Ward is our emcee, and will be hosting Opera Trivia during the concert. Free prizes! It will be fun.

When are you making your next season announcement?

On April 10, 2016, I will be announcing our 20162017 season at the Opera 101 concert.

Opera 101 plays for one show only at the Arts Resource Centre, 45 Queen Street in Oshawa. Curtain is at 3PM, so don’t be late! You can get your tickets here.

Psst…students and youngsters can get in free.

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