National Opera Company of Canada

The National Opera Company of Canada. Following the collapse of the Montreal Opera Company (1910-13) an effort was made to establish a successor with some of the same personnel.

National Opera Company of Canada

The National Opera Company of Canada. Following the collapse of the Montreal Opera Company (1910-13) an effort was made to establish a successor with some of the same personnel. The resulting National Opera Company of Canada, managed by the Russian-American impresario Max Rabinoff (1879-1966), barely survived one season, 1913-14.

Performances began at His Majesty's Theatre on 17 November with a well-received production (probably the first in Canada) of Ponchielli's La Gioconda with the American soprano Marie Rappold in the title role. The ensuing eight weeks saw several outstanding performances in Montreal; then began a tour including Ottawa, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Houston, and Denver. It was in Denver, 17 Feb 1914, that the financial difficulties which had plagued the troupe culminated in confusion, scandal, and disbandment.

In its three months of existence the ill-fated company managed to present more than 80 performances of 14 operas; in chronological sequence, they were La Gioconda, Madama Butterfly, Thaïs, Cavalleria Rusticana, Il Segreto di Susanna, Samson et Dalila, Hérodiade, Tosca, Carmen, I Pagliacci, Lohengrin, La Navarraise, La Bohème, and Otello. In addition, throughout the Montreal season, afternoon concerts were given, featuring such celebrated instrumental artists as Kathleen Parlow and Wilhelm Backhaus. Anna Pavlova and her Ballet Russe appeared briefly 22-5 Dec 1913 under the company's banner.

Leading singers included the sopranos Ester Ferrabini (a former Montreal Opera favourite) and Luisa Villani, the contraltos Jeanne Gerville-Réache and Rosa Olitzka, the tenors Mischa Léon and Leo Slezak, the baritones Max Salzinger and José Segura-Tallien, and the basses Natale Cervi and Giovanni Martino. The only Canadian known to have appeared in solo roles was the baritone Harold Meek. The conductors were Agide Jacchia, Alexander Savine, and Oscar Spirescu.


Further Reading

  • Slezak, Leo. Song of Motley (London 1938)

    McPherson, Jim. 'The National Opera Company of Canada 1913-1914,' Record Collector, vol 21, Jul 1973

    'Opera in Montreal and Toronto'