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A Night A The Opera: Siegfried, The Ring Cycle and the COC

I've always been drawn in by the flashy epic nature of opera and there's nothing more epic than the Canadian Opera Company's remount of Wagner's 4 part Ring Cycle in conjunction with the opening of their new, historic and pristine Four Seasons Opera Hall.

Unable to pass up the opportunity to to see some of the finest theater to hit Toronto in years and the chance to sit in million dollar box seats, I decided to check out COC's production of Siegfried.

Siegfried is the third part of Wagner's Ring Cycle that focuses on the story of Siegfried,
a young man who longs to find his place in the world away from the forest he calls his home.

Raised by Mime, a surly dwarf whom he despises, Siegfried takes up the challenge of
slaying the dragon Fafner in order to gain the knowledge of fear, an essential trait he
believes in making it one his own. Siegfried's actions however play into the plans
of various gods and saboteurs hungry to stop him from gaining the ring of power
held captive in the Dragon's wondrous gold hoard.

The strengths of Siegfried come from the imaginative direction by world renown
theater and film director Francois Girard whom you may know as the director of
one of Canada's finest pieces of cinema, The Red Violin.

With surrealistic simplicity and a curiously eerie tone Girard teams with now legendary production designer Michael Levine (who makes his directing debut with Gotterdammerung, the final installment of the cycle) to execute his nightmare vision.

The major set consists of a giant tree-like mass that sits above Siegfried for much of the action made of bits of marble, broken institutional buildings and unsettling actors suspended in air who move with Siegfried's shifting and fractioned memory. Girard uses these human extras decked in white as the ultimate psychological pawns even using them to form the body of the dragon; dragging them on wires from a heap on the floor into a shifting, floating and breathing mass in a scene that gave me goose bumps.

We now have an opera theater that puts Toronto on the map internationally for concert halls and with COC's Ring Cycle we've exploded onto the global opera scene. With directors like Girard, Levine, and even Atom Egoyan helming these productions I can only wait to see what the COC does to maintain this level of quality.

The tickets for the Ring remount are extremely pricey but as they continue into the rest of the season, I can only hope they continue their $25 dollar tickets for people 25 and under because to subscribe for the box seats I sat in for the dress rehearsal my last name should have been either Trump or Hilton.

Photo: Sam Javanrouh


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