“The Box Office” was originally composed as one mini opera in a five-part set with an overarching theme of what happens when two people meet. “The Box Office” provides a short and absurd scene that is nothing short of a customer service nightmare – one insufferable customer, and one (very) tired attendant. Many of the gestures focus on chromaticism and tritone leaps, suggesting an “uneasy” sense of conversation. The music makes heavy use of referential humour, with quotes from various operas (made appropriate, considering the setting of the Canadian Opera Company box office) and cultural tropes. Its lightening quick pace and frequent shifts suggest an almost mad or unstable atmosphere, which is indeed confirmed in the “meltdown aria” near the end of the scene.
Bekah Simms is a composer, flutist, and poet hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Drawing influences from a variety of sources, Bekah’s music deals largely with a sense of wonder in the universe and human emotion. Many works are derived from literary themes, predominantly poetry and the Southern Gothic. Her music has been performed across Canada, the United States, and in Italy by ensembles such as the Euridice Quartet, the University of Toronto Opera Department, GamUT, the Keene State Contemporary Ensemble, The Elastic Millennium Choir, Spectrum, MUN Chamber Choir, and the Gower Community Band. Her poetry has been performed by the Ora Ensemble and distributed by the Eastern Edge Gallery. Recent engagements have included the HighSCORE Music Festival in Pavia, Italy, which included lectures, masterclasses, and lessons with such esteemed composers as Louis Andriessen, Martin Bresnick, and Christopher Theofanidis. She was also one of 26 composers included in the 2013-2014 concert series of The New Music Conflagration, based in Florida, after an open call that included over 250 submissions from composers from over 30 countries. In January 2014, she served as guest composer for the Newfound Music Festival. Most recently, she was chosen to take part in the Vancouver International Song Institute, where she will have a new art song premiered at the 2014 SONGFIRE festival. She has a B.Mus in Theory/Composition from Memorial University where she studied composition with Dr. Andrew Staniland and Dr. Clark Ross. She is currently pursuing a M.Mus in Composition, studying with Dr. Norbert Palej at the University of Toronto.
Librettist Michael Patrick Albano is the resident stage director of the Opera training programme at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, where he has staged over twenty-five operas including the Canadian premières of Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue, Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan and the Toronto premiere of Offenbach’s Barbe-Bleu. Mr. Albano’s guest directorial credits include Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the New York City Opera and Wolf Trap, La Bohème for the Canadian Opera Company, Le Comte Ory for the Manhattan School of Music, Le Nozze di Figaro for the Yale School of Music, a new dialogue version of Die Fledermausfor Opera Kentucky, The Abduction from the Seraglio for Opera Hamilton, Hansel and Gretel for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, La Fille du Régiment for L’Opéra de Montréal and Verdi’s La Traviata for the Opera Festival of New Jersey. Mr. Albano has written three original children’s opera librettos; The Very Last Green Thing and The Thunder of Horses – the latter based upon Blackfoot Indian legends. Additional libretto commissions include Gianni (based on the life of the baroque composer, Giovanni Pergolesi), for Opera Lyra, The Last Duel (with music by Gary Kulesha) for MusicCanada 2000 and Loss of Eden, (based on the lives of Charles and Ann Lindbergh) which was premiered in June of 2002 by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and subsequently repeated in Minneapolis. Mr. Albano’s interest in the development of original opera librettos has led to his involvement for the past ten seasons as resident dramaturge for the Tapestry New Opera Works annual composer/librettist laboratory.
Director – Kathleen Stakenas