I’m going to be in an opera! I am in the chorus of Heroic Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth on Friday 5. July and Saturday 6. July in Vancouver. It will be a marvelous show. The singers are powerful and exciting, the direction is incisive, the costumes are lavish.

Barely two years old,  Heroic Opera has already brought operas by Wagner, Verdi, and Richard Strauss to Vancouver. This publicity still shows one reason I love them: their boldness and ability to seize attention.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (photo by Kathryn Nickford)

I think of Macbeth as Verdi’s horror film. A murder is the focus of Act I. A cascade of murders follows, driven by the need to protect the gains from the first murder. The drive for power animates both Macbeth and his spouse, Lady Macbeth. The horror genre’s side dish to the main course of gore, fear, and suspense has always been sexuality. 19th century usually keeps the sex on the down low, with only oblique insinuations — but if you listen to Verdi’s music, it’s clearly there. This photo’s bloodstained Andy Greenwood as Macbeth, and Melissa Ratcliff as Lady Macbeth, shot by Kathryn Nickford, brilliantly captures both the story and Heroic Opera’s approach to it.

Here are the facts on the show. I hope that my B.C. Lower Mainland friends who want a good night of opera, and to see me do the performing I’m always talking about, will come see Macbeth, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi. In Italian with English subtitles. Friday July 5th, and Saturday July 6th 2019 at 7:30 pm, in the Orpheum Annex, 823 Seymour St, Vancouver. Tickets $32/$28 at Brown Paper Tickets. Facebook event here. “Due to mature themes, this show may not be appropriate for young children.” — how often do you get to say that about an opera performance?

There has been some advanced press about the show:

This is my second show with the Heroic Opera company, but I know many of the cast from other productions and other companies. Andrew Greenwood (Macbeth), the Great Cascadia Subduction Quake of baritones, has had me in his choruses for I-don’t-know-how-many repertory performances of Macbeth, as well as Un ballo in maschera and Les Contes d’Hoffmann in 2017, and more. Melissa Ratcliff (Lady Macbeth) pours equal amounts of volcanic commitment and good cheer into singing Lady Macbeth and doing the thousand and one producer tasks to make the opera happen at all. I had a postage-stamp chorus role in the Così fan tutte she led last December, and we overlapped in the Vancouver Bach Choir, where she notably waved an actual Bren Gun during a concert. I could go on down the line of most of the principal and chorus singers in this production, listing in which show I have sung with them before. In contrast, this is my first outing with director Jeanine Fynn, though I’ve seen numerous of her shows from the late Dragon Diva opera company which she co-led, and her performances as part of the Vancouver Opera chorus. For the journeyman community opera chorus member, the difference between an interesting show and a boring one comes down to how much the director cares about and invests effort into directing the chorus. Jeanine has impressed me by how well she knows the story, how clearly she brings it to life, and how much acting she encourages and expects from the chorus. Music director Perri Lo is new to me, but she is able to simultaneously be our 10-fingered pit orchestra, and catch our singing mistakes. I hope to have a lot of future opportunities to learn from her.

I am going to have a lot of fun being in this wonderful show, and I hope some of you will come see what these fantastic performers have created!

[Update 2019-07-03: changed Perri Lo’s link from LinkedIn to Facebook. —ed]