Charles Sy Is Canada’s Next Opera Star
So, I’ll admit it. I’m not the biggest opera fan. I’ve been to two operas in my life, the second one most recently this Fall when I saw the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) rendition of Madama Butterfly.
My thoughts? Well, it’s not going to pass a Bechdel test anytime soon, but it sure was beautiful, both visually and aurally. I posted that comment to my Twitter account and the COC retweeted me, which I thought was pretty cool of them.
Basically, I have really enjoyed opera. I just don’t know much about it. So when I was asked to report on the COC’s Centre Stage, an Ensemble Studio Competition Gala affectionately referred to as “Opera Idol,” I jumped at the chance. I wanted to hear more opera, and I wanted to possibly bring a younger audience to the genre, through these seven young opera hopefuls vying for a place in the COC Ensemble.
(I did bring a colleague/friend and Opera aficionado to help me out with the more technical bits)
It was an evening of splendour and romance – as the lights dimmed to start the show, I spotted a woman in the balcony reaching over to squeeze her partner’s hand. The seven finalists – narrowed down from a pool of 175 young opera hopefuls – shone among the starry background and lanterns illuminating the stage at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, along with the baubles and sparkly dresses donned by the female contestants.
But the greatest moment, for me, was witnessing soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, Canadian opera royalty, perform. When she came onstage, the elderly man sitting beside my friend loudly whispered to his companion, “She’s a lesbian!” before muttering away. My friend started laughing and whispered to me what he said. I really wish I’d been sitting beside him and heard. Because I really hope I would’ve leaned over to him and said, “So am I. You’re surrounded. It’s a conspiracy!”
I looked her up later, and she is married to a woman, and they have a daughter. Not that it matters, of course, but as a fellow queer person who still deals regularly with everyday example of homophobia, this little tidbit of information made me love her even more.