Opera 5's Aria Umezawa on Offenbach/Hahn

Opera 5's Aria Umezawa on Offenbach/Hahn

Jenna Simeonov
This weekend, Opera 5 puts up their fall show, a double bill featuring Reynaldo Hahn’s L’île du rêve and Jacques Offenbach’s _Ba-ta-clan. _Opera 5 is all about combining art forms (including the beloved culinary arts!), and I was curious about this pairing of Hahn’s “idylle polynésienne” and Offenbach’s “chinoiserie musicale”. Artistic Director Aria Umezawa took the time to chat about the double bill, which plays September 19-21st at the brand new Alliance Française de Toronto Cultural Centre Theatre, 24 Spadina Rd. Click here for details and tickets.

Why pair together Ba-ta-clan and L’île du rêve?

We thought these operas paired nicely together for a few reasons. They are both examples of “Orientalism”, which was a popular aesthetic in France around the turn of the century. They are both firsts for their respective composers - Hahn’s first opera, Offenbach’s first big hit - yet today they are not often performed. Beyond this, the two works contrast in mood and affect, so the audience will really get to experience the emotional highs and lows of French operatic repertoire.

What messages are timeless for audiences in these two pieces?

The Hahn is all about love and coming into one’s own sexuality. I think most people have experienced a first love. The one you think is going to last forever. The one that is all-consuming, and completely irrational. The people who have experienced this kind of love will most likely have also experienced the end of it. It can be quite devastating. These types of romances have been written about throughout history, and continue to be written about today - sometimes in the form of sparkly vampires. Ba-ta-clan by Offenbach seems quite relevant now, as we get closer to the municipal election. Ba-ta-clan is a call to action. A message to take back the government and give power to the people. The sad truth is that sometimes power passes out of the hands of one tyrant, and into the arms of another.

What can audiences expect from this double bill?

Be prepared to cry, to laugh, and to witness some amazing performances from our cast.

How does Offenbach/Hahn coincide with Opera 5’s mandate?

Opera 5 seeks to foster the next generation of opera audiences. This show is a co-production with Alliance Francaise de Toronto, and through this partnership we hope to reach out to Toronto’s French community. Our cast has worked incredibly hard learning spoken dialogue in French, and memorizing a large amount of French repertoire. We may not be Francophones, but after this production, we can certainly call ourselves Francophiles. Opera 5’s Offenbach/Hahn opens this Friday night. Get tickets and more info right here.

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