Opera Canada’s 18th annual awards gala The Rubies is quickly approaching. On October 30, three honourees will be recognised for their contributions to Canadian opera, and among the recipients is accomplished director and librettist Michael Patrick Albano. As Associate Professor and Resident Stage Director at UofT Opera, he has staged over forty operas throughout his career. Writer Christopher Hoile spoke with Albano about his career, his lifetime love of the genre, and his work in developing academic opera programs in Toronto for the upcoming issue of Opera Canada.
“Primarily, the job of the director is as a storyteller…not…story creation. You should have respect for the piece that you’re doing—your job is not to rewrite it. I am a great fan of updating the period of the action if it helps to make sense of the story. But when I talk to directors who have a great idea that imposes a new narrative on an older opera, I wonder, why not just create a new opera?”
“Opera suffers in a way that theatre doesn’t. People expect to go to new plays. And when they see a new play, the question doesn’t even occur to them, ‘Is it as good as Hamlet?’ But in opera there is a friction between new works and old works. People think that seeing new works will somehow deprive them of the experience of old works. In an ideal world, opera would be like theatre where a complement of new works sits side by side with older repertory works.”
“I think audience interest is booming. I’m also tremendously buoyed by the fact that every year we have so many young people audition. It’s astounding that so many young people want to do this with their lives. And the fact that the directing course has been so successful and that people…want to do this makes me very optimistic about the future.”
The full feature on Michael Patrick Albano will be available in the upcoming issue of Opera Canada, due out in late October.
Albano is an honouree this year alongside soprano Karina Gauvin and conductor Yves Abel.
This year’s Rubies will be held on October 30 at the First Canadian Place in Toronto. For more information on The Rubies or for tickets please visit operacanada.ca/rubies