Creator & Librettist: Lorna MacDonald
Composer: Dean Burry
Musical Director, Creative Advisor & Arrangements: Stuart Calvert
Stage Director: Mimi Mekler
Song Arrangements: Lydia Adams
Set Design: Bruce Cathcart
Lighting Design: Ken Heaton
Lighting Operator: Deryk Chapman
Born in Port Morien, Nova Scotia, soprano Lorna MacDonald enjoys a career of distinction as an international performer, Professor of Voice, and she is the Lois Marshall Chair in Voice Studies at the University of Toronto. Her early years in the Cape Breton mining and fishing village provided her with an insatiable love for singing and performance, and a deep respect for teaching. Awards for her singing took her to New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and Graz’ Stephaniensaal, while concerts in Los Angeles’ Disney Hall and studying African singing and drumming in Ghana figure among her musical highlights. She continues to perform, and her solo and operatic performances have taken her to Austria, Germany, France, Taiwan, the Republic of China, Russia, Africa, Wales, Ireland, England, Bermuda, and across North America.
MacDonald’s agile, bright, sensitive voice beautifully illuminated the depth of Giovanni Bottesini’s songs for soprano and double bass and Richard Strauss’ song cycle with piano. (Indianapolis NUVO 2014)
MacDonald’s freshness of tone, her clarity of style and diction, and her beautifully expressive musicianship are served by a perfection of technical mastery (Halifax Herald 2006)
…an absolute jewel (Edmonton Journal 1994)
Among the multi-media works she has developed and performed are Marrying Mozart, Lois Marshall in Russia, and the Group of Seven. “The Bells of Baddeck – the Alexander Graham and Mabel Bell Story” is her first libretto and large-scale music-drama. Lorna has enthusiastically “come home” to sing many concerts with Début Atlantic, Musique Royale, the St. Cecelia Series, with Coro Cantabile and the Cape Breton Chordsmen, for Opera Nova Scotia, Celtic Colours, Symphony Nova Scotia at the Rebecca Cohn, and to record for CBC Radio.
A recipient of Ontario’s prestigious OCUFA Award for “teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to university teaching”, she created a multi-faceted program in Voice Pedagogy at the University of Toronto in which doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students learn methods of artful voice teaching throughout the human life span. With collaborators at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, she designed a Cochlear-Implanted Singing Study (2010) that uses singing to increase vocal effectiveness for hearing impaired children and adolescents. In building a program for talented singers and emerging teachers, hearing-impaired patients, and creating new performance models, the sharing of song and voice is at the heart of her life’s work.
Dean Burry, Composer
Composer and librettist Dean Burry was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland but grew up in the town of Gander. In 1998, while working as an educator with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, he was commissioned to write The Brothers Grimm. The opera has been seen by over 150,000 children across Canada since 2001 and has been produced across North America and Europe. At well over 500 performances, The Brothers Grimm is believed to be the most performed Canadian opera ever.
Other major works include The Hobbit for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and Sarasota Opera, The Scorpions’ Sting for the Canadian Opera Company, The Vinland Traveler and Le nez de la sorcière for Memorial University of Newfoundland, Pandora’s Locker for The Glenn Gould School, the CBC serial radio opera Baby Kintyre (released on the Centredisc and Naxos labels in September, 2014) and Beacon of Light for Rising Tide Theatre. He is currently a professor at the Glenn Gould Professional School of the Royal Conservatory of Music and pursuing a DMA at the University of Toronto.
Burry was the 2011 recipient of the Louis Applebaum Composers Award for excellence in the field of music for young people. His most recent composition, Tempest in a Teacup recently premiered in Guiyang, China and upcoming performances include The Hockey Cantata, commissioned by Orchestra Toronto and an opera about the lives of Alexander Graham and Mabel Bell. www.deanburry.com
Stuart Calvert, Musical Director and Creative Advisor
Born in Glace Bay, N.S., Stuart has always considered himself a Cape Bretoner, in heart and heritage. After musical training with Marguerite MacDougall, Stuart attended and toured the U.S.A. with the Columbus Boychoir (now American Boychoir) School in Princeton, N.J. His music studies continued at Brandon University (Manitoba) and, after graduating, he remained at Brandon U. for two years, on the faculty.
In 1980 Stuart moved to London, and he has lived in the U.K. ever since. (His home is in Cambridge.) As a tenor, he spent eight seasons with The Bach Choir, London, performing with the choir in England, Hong Kong, Israel, Norway, Netherlands, and at the 1981 Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
As an pianist/conductor Stuart has accompanied, or recorded with artists such as Betty Buckley, John Barrowman, Chevy Chase, Petula Clark, Beverly D’Angelo, Gareth Gates, Edmund Hockridge, Ruthie Henshall, Tom Jones, Miss Piggy(!), Elaine Page, and Andy Williams.
The largest part of Stuart’s career has been his association with Musical Theatre. Amongst the shows for which he has been Musical Director or Conductor are: Brigadoon, Cats, Chess, Chicago, Joseph and the… Dreamcoat, Les Misérables, Martin Guerre, Miss Saigon, The Producers, Riverdance, Showboat, Shrek, Singin’ In The Rain, South Pacific, and Sunset Boulevard, in London’s West End, on tour throughout the U.K., Japan, Germany, the U.S.A., Portugal, and Sweden.
Stuart has composed music for BBC-TV and his published choral-arrangements, many of which feature music from Cape Breton, are performed across North America and in the UK. His orchestrations have been performed by the City of London Sinfonia, The Gothenburg Opera Orchestra, London Brass, Royal College of Music Brass Ensemble,The Stockholm Sinfonietta, The Malaysian Philharmonic, The Nash Ensemble – London, Wermland Opera Orchestra, The Yehudi Menuhin School Orchestra, and the Showbiz Pops Orchestra.
Mimi Mekler, Stage Director
Mimi Mekler is delighted to be back in Baddeck, surrounded by the ghosts of Alexander Graham Bell and all his family and colleagues.
Her work as director, actor, dramaturge, writer and adjudicator has taken her from California to Czechoslovakia and Italy to Israel. She is probably best known as Maggie in the long-running children’s TV series Crazy Quilt. Other acting highlights include playing a crazed nun in Bella Donna, portraying both Portia and Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, dubbing films in Prague, and creating segments of R. Murray Schafer’s opera-in-the wilderness And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon. Her directing has been hailed as “masterful” (Ontario Arts Review) and praised for its “dramatic edge” (Now Magazine). She was given a Thea Award for “Unique Creativity, Imagination, Inventiveness and Originality” for her production of As You Like It. A long-time collaborator with Dean Burry, she directed his one-woman musical Sweetheart – The Mary Pickford Story at Spadina House Historic Home and Gardens, and elsewhere. She was Associate Director of R. Murray Schafer’s Princess of the Stars in Haliburton Forest, and Mask and Text Consultant for The Tempest at Canadian Stage’s outdoor Dream in High Park.
She teaches for Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Performance and Animation programs, and University of Toronto Mississauga’s Theatre and Drama Studies. She has been dramaturge for over 60 productions, specializing in developing new plays and revitalizing classics.
Mimi has been active in fostering interest in theatre among community groups. She has adjudicated in Manitoba, the United States, and throughout Ontario, most recently Theatre Ontario Festival 2016. She has worked with the Canadian Opera Company’s community programs, writing and staging new versions of classical operas with children (including Rheingold, Elixir of Love, and Turandot), and co-founded the Charlottetown Festival’s theatre camp. Mimi holds her B.A. and M.F.A. in Theatre from York University. She is a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
Lydia Adams, Song Arrangements
A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Lydia Adams received her musical education at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick; the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, London, England.
Artistic Director of both the Elmer Isler Singers and the Amadeus Choir, she has conducted choral works of many Canadian composers including Somers, Freedman, Applebaum, Watson Henderson, Hatzis, Daley and Togni. Ms. Adams has toured extensively and guest conducted throughout Canada and the United States, and recently conducted a tour of the world’s first Cree opera, Pimooteewin: The Journey, by Tomson Highway and Melissa Hui. An innovative programmer, Ms. Adams has included over 50 new commissions in the past 13 years. Her own compositions are performed worldwide.
In June 2009 Ms. Adams won the prestigious Ontario Premier’s Finalist Award for Excellence in the Arts recognizing her outstanding achievement and contribution to arts and culture. Dr. Adams has also been honoured by the City of Scarborough, the Women’s International Network, and the Ontario Choral Federation. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Mount Allison University for her service to music in Canada. She is one of 74 featured stage artists in V. Tony Hauser’s national Stage Presence 2009 portrait exhibition and publication.
In June 2012, Dr. Adams was announced as the winner of the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition, part of The 2012 Toronto Arts Foundation Arts Awards.
In June 2013 Lydia Adams won the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in the Artist category, with the following citation: “As the conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto for 30 years and of Canada’s Elmer Iseler Singers for 15 years, Lydia Adams has consistently promoted and programmed music by both time-honored and contemporary Canadian composers, while at the same time promoting young Canadian artists, many of whom have gone on to establish a career in singing and/or composing.”