Arboreal opera arriving this week

  • Sep. 21, 2009 7:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-“More songs about trees. Sung loud!” These are the words of Vancouver-based singer/composer Veda Hille about an opera she wrote for children that will play in schools and at two public events on the islands. Jack Pine is the story of three children who, with the help of an enthusiastic botanist, discover the secrets of the trees that surround them. Together they explore the myths, legends and fascinating facts of Canada’s forests and follow the story of gnarly and misunderstood Jack as he finds his place among the trees. The opera is based on a book by Christopher Patton, which tells the story of the short and twisted Jack Pine, a rarely logged tree that was once vilified by farmers. Ms Hille was commissioned by Vancouver Opera to write the music and the libretto for this opera, which will be performed in schools across the province. “It has been fascinating to dive into the world of opera. They sing so loud! And the way people think about notes and melody in opera seems very different. But in the end, music is music and I’m finding that the things that work in any song work here too. Maybe that’s a simple revelation, but it gives me a huge freedom in writing for Jack Pine,” she says. Children and adults alike will be charmed by the zany energy and full-throated singing of the talented young cast: tenor Adam Fisher (Jackson/Jack Pine), mezzo-soprano Rose-Ellen Nichols (Rebecca/Red Pine), soprano Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga (Piper/Pitch Pine) and baritone Michael MacKinnon (The Botanist/White Pine/The Farmer). The opera will be performed for students at Tahayghen in Masset on Sept. 23, Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary in Skidegate and at Port Clements Elementary on Sept. 24 and at Agnes L. Mathers in Sandspit on Sept. 25. Shows for the general public are sponsored by the Arts Council and will be held at the Haida Heritage Centre on Sept. 25 at 7 pm and at George M. Dawson on Sept. 27 at 2 pm. Tickets for adults are $10 and students are $5.

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