March 26, 2021Print | PDF
WATERLOO – Despite pandemic restrictions, Opera Laurier will present its first-ever filmed operatic production of Francis Poulenc’s masterpiece, Dialogues des Carmélites. The production will premiere on Laurier’s Faculty of Music YouTube channel for free on Wednesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. and will be available for future streaming.
With the ability to return to limited in-person instruction, under stringent COVID-19 safety protocols, Opera Laurier pivoted to present a fully filmed version of Poulenc’s opera. The flexibility of film and production team creativity allowed for the illusion of up to 20 people onstage, while there were never more than five people at any given time.
The performance, which features Laurier Bachelor of Music and Opera Diploma voice students was directed and conceived for film by Paul Hopkins and conducted by Emily Hamper. Paul Hopkins with the support of Laurier film student Aviel Kurulkar edited the fully filmed opera. Set and lighting designer Holly Meyer-Dymny, in her third consecutive outing with Opera Laurier, transformed the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall into a cathedral-like space, using geometric shapes inspired by iconic rose windows with cleverly positioned Plexiglas frames to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Costumes were realized by Opera Laurier’s in-house magician, Inez Khan.
"Dialogues is a profound tale of 18th century women who change the world by making the ultimate sacrifice.” says director Paul Hopkins. “Francis Poulenc’s classic resonates as deeply today, during this time of 'front line workers,' as it did when it premiered after the Second World War. An abundance of passion and talent with the help of a little digital sorcery has been woven into this once-in-a-lifetime production. Despite adhering to strict physical distancing parameters, this innovative production transcends the possibilities of what opera can be.”
Opera Laurier, made up of Laurier voice students enrolled in The Practice of Opera courses, stages two productions a year—an evening of operatic scenes around a unifying theme in the fall term and a full production in the winter term. Students gain hands-on experience by learning and practicing stagecraft, stage makeup and costuming, as well as all aspects of production from the physical set to stage management, publicity and marketing.
“I have been so impressed by the vision of our creative team, but also the students’ willingness to experiment with a completely new set of artistic parameters”, says Opera Coordinator, Kimberly Barber. “Filming an opera is an entirely different process from producing a live, theatrical production. Scenes are not necessarily filmed in sequence, and once you have gotten your two or three takes of a scene, you are done and you never revisit it. Therefore, students had to learn to adapt to this situation and be incredibly prepared for the filming sessions—time was really of the essence. It has also been magical to witness the creative genius of Paul Hopkins and Holly Meyer-Dymny as they crafted a powerful visual world to meet the musical intensity of Poulenc’s story.”
Please email Kimberly Barber, Opera Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
About Laurier’s Faculty of Music
Since 1975, Laurier’s Faculty of Music has grown from 69 students in one undergraduate program to over 400 students across seven degree and diploma programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Laurier also operates the Laurier Conservatory with over 1,000 students, is home to the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and has been named Canada’s Best Music Campus by CBC Radio.
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