Sopranos Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman with the MCO

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Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman are both internationally renowned sopranos. That Andriana used to be Tracy’s pupil, here in Winnipeg, makes it all the more special when they sing together.

Tracy is, of course, one of Canada’s premier coloratura sopranos; a singer who carries off the agile runs, trills, and leaps of the coloratura repertoire “with sunshine, rainbows and laser light” (Opera Canada). There’s no need to impress the reader by reeling off all the illustrious stages on which she’s performed, but let’s mention a few anyway: Théâtre du Châtelet, the Metropolitan, La Scala, the Hamburg Opera. Her list of accomplished former students (at the University of Manitoba and elsewhere) surely adds to her indelible impact on the Canadian singing community.

One of those former students is Andriana herself, another coloratura soprano who started in Tracy’s studio at the University of Manitoba and quickly became a top student. Today she stars alongside some of the world’s most famous singers on top opera stages. Praised by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune for her vocal brilliance, Chuchman cut her teeth learning Ukrainian folk songs with her sister in the Garden City home where they grew up.

We weren’t surprised when Andriana and Tracy sold out the last time they performed an in-person concert with us in 2018. See them perform a range of arias and duets at this concert — and get your tickets while they last.

New Music, new arrangements

A highlight at this concert will be the live performance premiere of Because Forgiveness Needs Another Word by John Burge (top right above). The work was presented online in June. Additional compositional duties for this concert fell to Micahel Oesterle (bottom right above) with his excellent arrangments of the works by Frederich von Flotow and Victor Herbert.

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Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster Church in Wolseley
Tuesday & Wednesday, 26 & 27 October 2021
Online presentation 9 November 2021

Anne Manson, conductor
Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman, sopranos

Claudio Monteverdi
‘Pur ti Miro’ from L’incoronazione di Poppea (duet)

Georg Frideric Handel
“Caro piu amabile belta,” from Giulio Cesare (duet)

John Burge
Because forgiveness needs another word
Live premiere performance; commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Ach, ich fuehl's," from The Magic Flute (Ms Chuchman)

GF Handel
"Let the Bright Seraphim," from Samson (Ms Dahl)

Joseph Haydn
Symphony No. 84 in E major, Hob I/84

Friedrich von Flotow (arr. Michael Oesterle:)
"'Tis the Last Rose of Summer," from Martha (Ms Chuchman)

Victor Herbert (arr. Michael Oesterle)
"Romany Life," from The Fortune Teller (Ms Dahl)

GF Handel
"You insult a constant lover," from Xerxes (duet)

Season sponsor / CN
October 26th Guest Artist sponsor / Quadrant Private Wealth
October 27th Guest Artist sponsors / Drs. Bill Pope & Elizabeth Tippett-Pope
October 26th Music Director sponsors / Neil & Elaine Margolis—“in loving memory of Moti Shojania”
Volunteer sponsor / MB Liquor Mart
Media sponsors / Classic 107, Golden West Radio & Winnipeg Free Press

Tracy Dahl

Canada’s premier coloratura soprano, Tracy Dahl has appeared throughout her career with such esteemed opera companies as the Metropolitan, San Francisco, Houston Grand, Santa Fe and Calgary operas; the Canadian Opera Company, Pacific Opera Victoria, Teatro alla Scala (Milan) and the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris). On concert stages, Tracy Dahl has appeared with Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Monterey Symphony, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra among many others. Her discography includes A Disney Spectacular with the Cincinnati Pops (Telarc), Glitter and Be Gay with the Calgary Philharmonic (CBC), A Gilbert and Sullivan Gala with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (CBC), and Love Walked In, a Gershwin collection with the Bramwell Tovey Trio (Red Phone Box Company).

The “incredible Canadian soprano,” known for her agility and vocal range, values education alongside her impressive performing career as a Professor of Voice at the University of Manitoba. Tracy Dahl’s recent engagement highlights include appearances with Regina Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, and the Canadian Opera Company in Cosi fan tutte. She recently performed as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony in Carmina Burana and the Vancouver Symphony in Carmina Burana and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. She also recently appeared with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s Candide Suite, and sang in a dual program with Andriana Chuchman with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

Born in Winnipeg, Tracy Dahl commenced her vocal training at age 12, and had her heart set on a career in musical theatre. During her studies at the Banff Centre, she successfully debuted as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the Manitoba Opera. Under the guidance of Mary Morrison and Martin Isepp, Dahl developed her career in opera, ultimately performing with world renowned symphonies, orchestras, and opera companies. In July 2017, Tracy Dahl had the high honour of being appointed to the Order of Canada for her accomplishments as an opera singer and for her commitment to mentoring the next generation of Canadian singers.

Andriana Chuchman

This season, soprano Andriana Chuchman makes two important role debuts: Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi at Opera Omaha, and Gilda in Rigoletto at Opera San Antonio. She also appears in concert with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

Ms Chuchman’s recent opera engagements have included Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Miranda in The Enchanted Island, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Valencienne in The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera; Mary in It’s A Wonderful Life at the San Francisco Opera, the title role in a new production of Orphée et Eurydice, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Valencienne at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Michal in Saul and Pat Nixon in Nixon in China at the Houston Grand Opera; Micaëla in La tragédie de Carmen at the San Diego Opera; Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi at the Los Angeles Opera, Boonyi/India in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown at the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Gretel on the Glyndebourne Festival Tour, Magnolia in Show Boat and Marie in Fille du Regiment at the Washington National Opera, Magnolia at the Dallas Opera, John Adams’ A Flowering Tree at the Opera Omaha, Guinevere in Camelot at the Glimmerglass Festival, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Cleopatra in Giuilio Cesare, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and staged performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Michigan Opera Theater; Minka in Le Roi le Malgra at the Bard Music Festival, the title role in Flora, an Opera and Irma in Louise at the Spoleto Festival USA, and Alinda in Giasone and Dorinda in Orlando at the Chicago Opera Theater.

Born in Winnipeg, Ms Chuchman received her Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Performance from the Desautels School of Music at the University of Manitoba. She is the recipient of the Opera Theater of St. Louis’ 2017 Mabel Dorn Reeder Award, and was also a prizewinner at the Finals of the 2009 Neue Stimmen Competition in Germany and received a Sullivan Foundation Encouragement Award in 2007.

John Burge

Dr. John Burge (b. 1961) holds degrees in Composition and Theory from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. Since 1987 he has been teaching at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he currently holds the position of Full Professor. He has composed a large body of choral, chamber and orchestral compositions but is particularly well known for his music for strings. The recording of his string orchestra work, Flanders Fields Reflections, by Sinfonia Toronto on the Marquis Classics label, received the 2009 JUNO Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition. His Piano Quartet, for piano, violin, viola and cello, as recorded by the Ensemble Made in Canada for Centredisc, was nominated for the same prize in 2016. A passionate advocate for Canadian music, he was a member of the Executive of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007, serving as President from 1998-2006. Since 2009, he has been a board member of the SOCAN Foundation. In recognition of his work as a composer and leadership in the arts in Canada, he received one of the Queen’s University’s 2013 Awards for Excellence in Research and in 2014 he was inducted as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada’s Humanities and Arts Division.

Pur ti miro (I adore you), from ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’ (The Coronation of Poppea)
Claudio Monteverdi

In a brilliant career that straddled the Renaissance and Baroque eras, Monteverdi composed numerous works, mostly vocal. They proved vastly influential, and their abundant beauty and drama have made them remarkably durable. He was one of the first great figures in opera. Glorious works such as Orfeo (1607) and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Ulysses Returns to His Homeland, 1639) still hold the boards four centuries after they appeared. Another popular opera, The Coronation of Poppea, premiered in Venice in 1643. The plot centres on Poppea, the mistress of the licentious emperor, Nero. In this duet, they rapturously pledge their love for each other.

Caro più amabile beltà (More amiable beauty), from ‘Giulio Cesare in Egitto’ (Julius Caesar in Egypt), HWV 17
George Frideric Handel

Handel developed into a true cosmopolitan, an enormously skilled composer who wove the various musical threads of his day into a rich and varied personal style. He began absorbing these influences early in his career. He spent that period first in Germany (his homeland) and then in Italy.

During the second decade of the eighteenth century, he settled in England, there to remain and there to win his greatest fame and influence. One of his reasons for locating there was the popularity of a type of music with which he was already quite familiar, and through which he had won great success: Italian‑style opera.

Over the next 30 years, he devoted the major portion of his creative energies to supplying English audiences with that type of piece. For most of that period, London’s music lovers received his operas enthusiastically, with Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Ariodante, and Serse proving especially popular. With them he gradually overtook Giovanni Bononcini as the most popular operatic composer of the day.

The ornate style that he championed gradually lost its popularity and he suffered financially because of this trend. One reason was English audiences wanting to hear something in their own language. They came to prefer down-to-earth English-language comedies such as The Beggar’s Opera (1728). They also switched their preference from opera to oratorio. Handel finally twigged to the trend and regained his fame through works such as Messiah (1742).

His opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto premiered in London in 1724. Based on the history of the first century B.C., it follows the mighty Roman warrior and statesman Julius Caesar as he journeys to Egypt in pursuit of his rival, Pompey, and to secure the country as a reliable food source for the Roman Empire. He has an affair with Cleopatra, who seeks to become the sole ruler of Egypt by disposing of her brother and co-ruler, Tolomeo. In this lively duet, Cleopatra and Caesar sing each other’s praises.

Because Forgiveness Needs Another Word, for String Orchestra, Oboes and French Horns
John Burge

The composer has provided the following note:

Because Forgiveness Needs Another Word, a single movement work for a string orchestra with pairs of oboes and French horns, was commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra through funding provided by the Canada Council. There are a number of baroque and early-classical compositions scored for this instrumentation and the broader purpose of this commission was to provide a modern composition for the same complement of instruments.

This work’s title is borrowed from a line from a poem by the Canadian poet and novelist, Ann Michaels. Titled To Write, this exquisite poem captures both the power of the written word and the driving force behind why writers put pen to paper, especially as an act of defiance. Virtually every line or stanza begins with the word, “because,” and its many strengths can be found in the shifting perspective from the intimate to the expansive. To quote Michaels, it is a poem that recognizes that all poetry at its heart is defiantly “… against oppression, dispossession, indifference and amnesia of every sort.” There is a short stanza from this poem that has stayed with me for many years as follows: “because forgiveness is not about/the past but the future/and needs another word.” In a nutshell, these fourteen words encapsulate so many of society’s large problems in which injustices and past wrongs resonate with so much despair and distrust that it is impossible to move forward towards a resolution and a brighter future. Equally, the words are applicable on the personal level in which it is easy to imagine moments in our own lives, when we have nursed personal grievances for too long without realizing that working towards reconciliation sooner would have been much more beneficial.

Listening to music, especially in a concert setting, is always a moment for reflection. By giving this composition a title of such emotional weight, the composer is simply attempting to engage the listener’s attention on issues where it could be productive to replace the word “forgiveness” with something more forward-looking. In a very abstract way, the composition unfolds with melodic fragments of deep emotional weight in the oboes and French horns that are buried by the very aggressive string writing. Eventually the main thematic material is presented in a more flowing fashion but this melody is often interrupted by moments of anguish until the music settles into an extended cadence that points towards a more optimistic future.

Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden (Ah, I feel it, it has vanished), from ‘Die Zauberflöte’ (The Magic Flute)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart and the colourful impresario/singer/actor Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812) met in 1780, when Schikaneder arrived in Salzburg, Mozart’s home town, with his rowdy troupe of musical theatre performers. He quickly became friends with the entire Mozart family. Mozart relocated to Vienna the following year. In 1789, he and Schikaneder renewed their lagging friendship, when Schikaneder & Co. set up shop at the barn-sized Theatre auf der Wieden in a Viennese suburb.

It was just a matter of time before he asked Mozart to collaborate with him. What spurred him on was the prospect of a hot-ticket show that would rescue the company from near bankruptcy. Mozart, himself facing serious monetary challenges, accepted the offer eagerly. He composed the singspiel (play with music), The Magic Flute, between June and September 1791. The premiere took place on 30 September, two months before his death.

The hero is Prince Tamino, who must bravely undergo rituals of purification in order to achieve two goals: priesthood in the Temple of Wisdom, and the hand of his sweetheart, Pamina. Pamina sings the sublimely melancholy aria, “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden” in Act Two, not understanding that Tamino is ignoring her only because he has taken a vow of silence as part of his initiation into the Temple.

Let the Bright Seraphim, from Samson, HWV 57
George Frideric Handel

Handel composed the oratorio Samson in 1741, immediately after completing Messiah. It tells the familiar Old Testament story of the tremendously strong Israelite who is seduced by Delilah, the Philistine temptress. In this ringing aria, an Israelite woman calls upon a host of angels to hail the fallen hero.

Symphony No. 84 in E-flat Major
Joseph Haydn

During Haydn’s first 30 years as director of music to the aristocratic Esterházy family (1761-1790), he remained a virtual prisoner on their estates, in and around Vienna. His music traveled for him, however. One centre where it became exceptionally popular was Paris, where his symphonies were performed as early as the 1760s. In 1785 the Concert de la Loge Olympique, the city’s most prestigious concert organization, commissioned six new symphonies from him. Reflecting his now continent-wide reputation as the master of symphonic composition, they offered him five times their usual fee: 25 louis d’or each, plus a further five for the publishing rights (this translates to about $60 thousand per symphony in modern currency). He composed the pieces, which have become known as symphonies 83, 85 and 87, in 1785; symphonies 82, 84 and 86 followed over the next year. First performed to great acclaim during the Loge Olympique’s 1787 concert season, they have been known ever since as his ‘Paris’ symphonies.

The Loge’s orchestra was the largest then operating in Europe, far bigger than the Esterházy court ensemble with whom Haydn was accustomed to working. It sported 40 violins, 10 double basses and matching ranks of virtuoso wind players (more players than many modern orchestras!). The musicians decked themselves out with chic clothing to match their reputation. They performed wearing dashing sky-blue dress coats, swords swinging from their waist-bands.

Symphony No. 84 is a work of virtually unclouded sweetness and joy. Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon describes it as being “filled with the inner peace and tranquility which a quarter-century of fruitful work in Eisenstadt and Esterháza had taught the composer.” The first movement opens with a brief introduction in slow tempo, gently teasing in its alternation of soft and loud passages. Breaking ingeniously with tradition, the movement proper is based on a single theme rather than the contrast between two separate tunes. The second movement is an appealing theme and variations, although in another unusual touch, the theme is a transformation of the introduction to the first movement. Towards the end, the music pauses as if anticipating a solo cadenza, only to have the wind section step into the spotlight en masse, instead. A gracious Minuet is followed by a finale boasting further delightful surprises in tone and texture.

‘Tis The Last Rose of Summer, from ‘Martha’
Friedrich von Flotow (arr. Michael Oesterle)

Flotow composed 30 operas, some of which found initial success in many European theatres. Among them only Martha remains in circulation. This charming romantic comedy premiered in Vienna in 1847. One of its most appealing excerpts is Flotow’s setting of this traditional Irish folk air. The text is by the celebrated Irish poet, Thomas Moore.

Romany Life, from ‘The Fortune Teller’
Victor Herbert (arr. Michael Oesterle)

Herbert’s name survives primarily as a composer of operettas. His early career was far more serious; from it the eventual composer of frothy farces could hardly have been predicted. His family moved from Ireland to Stuttgart in 1866 when his widowed mother married a German physician (Herbert spoke with a German accent for the rest of his life). He received a solid, conservative musical education there. His instrument was the cello, on which he rapidly became known as an exceptional performer. In addition to appearing as a recitalist, he regularly played chamber music and became a member of the Stuttgart court orchestra. In 1886, he married Viennese soprano Therese Förster. Shortly thereafter they sailed for New York to take up positions with the Metropolitan Opera, she as a featured singer, he as an orchestral cellist. He quickly became a major player in the musical life of New England, as conductor, soloist, chamber musician and composer.

The Fortune Teller premiered on Broadway in 1898 and ran for 40 performances. The lead female character, Musette, is involved in numerous farcical complications before the expected happy ending. She sings this soulful and spirited aria in Act One.

You insult a Constant Lover, from ‘Xerxes’ (HWV 40)
George Frideric Handel

Handel’s opera Xerses (also known as Serse) premiered in London in 1738. The title character was the King of Persia in the fifth century B.C. This energetic duet is performed by Arsamene brother of Xerxes, and Romilda, daughter of a prince who serves under the command of Xerxes.