William Norris, Managing Director
Last time I had been talking about our rather rainy Friday and preparations for the First Night of Armide. Now that first night was upon us and after a false start involving me going to completely the wrong entrance for the Opera House I took my seat for the performance - it was lovely to see Alexandra Skoczylasin the audience too, (previously of Tafelmusik and now Executive Director of Opera Atelier). Before the performance started, Catherine Pegard, president of the Chateau, Laurent Brunner of the Royal Opera and Marshall Pynkoskiof Opera Atelier took to the stage. We were marking the fact that we were now one week on from the horrific terror attacks of the previous Friday. Unfortunately my French isn’t particularly good, but Marshall’s speech (in English) was truly powerful - remarking that Paris was famed as the city of Love and that nothing should change that. A rousing rendition of La Marseillaise followed with Orchestra and Choir - a moving and emotional occasion.
Now I always feel slightly odd writing publicly about how great an Orchestra I work for is. I feel that it should be left to the public to assess that, but I have to say that the performance that Friday, from everyone involved in the production, really was stunning. The opera was affecting, moving, and quite brilliantly played. It would have been easy for it to have been quite a somber occasion but by the end of the evening it really did feel like we had all been touched and brought together by the restorative power of great art.
Following the performance The Royal Opera hosted a wonderful First Night party for all of us, and I think a much deserved occasion for the Orchestra to relax and enjoy themselves after an intense week of travel and rehearsal. It was also a great opportunity for me to continue to meet some of the musicians in the Orchestra - I’m still pretty new here after all so some of musicians who play less often with Tafelmusik are new to me.
First Night Party. Photos by William Norris
From left to right: Shannon Knights, Brandon Chui, Maureen Callaghan, Felix Deak, Julia Wedman, Chris Verrette; Felix Deak, Christina Mahler, Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann
Saturday saw our second performance (and also my parents first-ever Tafelmusik show, they’d come over from the UK to see the opera), and was followed by one of my favourite things about Orchestral touring - a hotel room party! There was plenty of wine, cheese and good company as musicians including conductor David Fallis, Alison McKay, Patricia Ahern, Christopher Verrette and Felix Deak assembled in Julia Wedman’s room for some late night food and drink.
Towards the end of the evening conversation drifted onto Canadian Pop music. I have now had a comprehensive play list assembled for me by several of the musicians (I am blindly assuming they have good taste), and look forward to continuing my Canadian musical education.
Today the Orchestra will have performed their third and final performance, but I’m writing this at 38,000 feet on my way home. A Finance Committee meeting calls, and I have to be back in Toronto.
When this trip was planned none of us knew what would occur in Paris and the extra significance that the performances would take on. I’m proud that we were able to be there, to share our music and to stand in solidarity with the French audiences that flocked to the three performances, and immensely proud of our incredibly dedicated musicians. Bravo to all, including our partners Opera Atelier who continue to be such wonderful artistic collaborators for us.