Before the virtual curtain drops on the 2020-21 Manitoba Opera concert season, Larry Desrochers looks back on the year and ahead to what (hopefully!) will be! 

Summer is nearly here and the formal concert season has come to a close.

It has been a year of pivots, changes, and adaptations for arts and culture organizations of all sizes. For Manitoba Opera (MO), the province’s only full-time professional opera company, it was a season of putting Manitoba talent first. 

“When I think back on (the 2020-21 concert season), what first comes to mind is the Sopranos of Winnipeg concert that we live-streamed last fall,” says MO General Director and CEO Larry Desrochers. Though not the first online event produced by Manitoba Opera, it was the first performance presented last year. “Just so proud of all the women that performed in that concert and how terrific they were,” glows Desrochers. “(And) that we were able to pull off this idea of streaming a concert live that we had never done before.” 

One of two marquee event this year, the other featured hometown hero Al Simmons in a one-man-opera production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville

“Al is a treasure,” says Desrochers. Commissioned in 2009 by MO, the touring show has been a tremendous hit with countless school audiences around the province. “To see how he adapted it for this short film… it was just brilliant.” 

DEAP Returns

On the horizon for Manitoba Opera is the return of the Digital Emerging Artists Program. First offered last year, the four week young artist program is currently accepting applications from singers between the ages of 18 and 35 until June 4. 

Much like last year, DEAP takes place entirely online with a core faculty consisting of Tracy Dahl, Monica Huisman, Marion Newman and John Tessier, and runs from August 3 through August 27, 2021.

“Because we’d only done the program once, we really didn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” explains Desrochers. The program is designed to prepare participants for success as multi-platform performers capable of engaging audiences through digital media, as well as live performance.

New Project Releases June 1 

“Everything from Mozart to Marvin Gaye,” says Desrochers regarding the repertoire. The 20 short films feature 5 local artists: Aaron Hutton, Lizzy Hoyt, Stephanie Sy, James McLennan and Lisa Belle performing onstage at the Centennial Concert Hall, directed by Deco Dawson. “A really eclectic program with really cool visuals.”

Watch the full conversation below for more details and a hint of what's to come in the new season!