Nova Scotia Opera Association

Nova Scotia Opera Association. Halifax company born of the marriage of Nova Scotian talent and Latvian artistry and experience, the latter supplied by Mariss Vetra and Alfred Strombergs, both from Riga.

Nova Scotia Opera Association

Nova Scotia Opera Association. Halifax company born of the marriage of Nova Scotian talent and Latvian artistry and experience, the latter supplied by Mariss Vetra and Alfred Strombergs, both from Riga. Vetra's successful 1949 presentation of Don Giovanni, produced in the Dalhousie gymnasium and aided by a Halifax city bicentennial grant, led to the formal founding of the Nova Scotia Opera Association in 1950.

Vetra (b Latvia 1902, d Toronto 24 Dec 1965) had been the director of the Latvian National Opera when he moved to Canada in 1947 to take over the voice department and establish an opera course at the Halifax Cons (Maritime Conservatory of Music). He served as artistic director of the association until 1953. He was succeeded by Teodor Brilts in 1954, Brilts by Thomas Mayer in 1955.

The orchestra (the Halifax Symphonette, formed to accompany the operas and later the basis of the Halifax Symphony Orchestra) was conducted 1949-55 by Strombergs and 1955-6 by Thomas Mayer.

The Tales of Hoffmann and La Traviata were presented in 1950, Madama Butterfly and The Marriage of Figaro in 1951, and Countess Maritza in 1952. A commissioned work, Trevor Morgan Jones' The Broken Ring, was premiered 15 Aug 1953. Orpheus and Eurydice (with the young Maureen Forrester) and Cavalleria Rusticana were presented in 1954, Rigoletto in 1955, and Faust (with Jan Rubes) in 1956.

Operas were staged at the Capitol Theatre (Halifax) in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, and 1956 and in the Queen Elizabeth Auditorium (Halifax) in 1953 and 1954. Some productions were taken to Antigonish, Glace Bay, Moncton, Sydney, Truro, and Wolfville.

Singers included Ronald Beare, Teodor Brilts, Audrey Farnell, Karen Keirstead Mills, Diane Oxner, Diane Parker, Jean Parker, Audrey Ryan, Raymond Simpson, and Corey Smith.

The association's productions ceased in 1956 as the result of financial difficulties, declining interest, and the dispersal of the participants to other centres in Canada. However, the supporting group sponsored appearances by the COC Touring Company in 1958 and 1960.