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The Enright Files: Conversations about opera and the people who make it

It’s hard to think of a musical genre with a more fearsome reputation for being rarefied, forbidding and just plain snooty than opera. But before the 20th century, opera was popular entertainment — music for the masses. It’s just as full of quirks, oddities, lore, colourful personalities, visionaries and otherworldly talents as any other genre. This month on The Enright Files: Conversations with opera insiders about how opera works.

The Sunday Edition's Michael Enright speaks with opera insiders

This month on The Enright Files: Conversations with opera insiders about how opera works. (CBC/Othalie Graham)
Listen to the full episode53:59

It's hard to think of a musical genre with a more fearsome reputation for being rarefied, forbidding and just plain snobbish than opera. 

But before the 20th century, opera was popular entertainment — music for the masses. It's just as full of quirks, oddities, lore, colourful personalities, visionaries and otherworldly talents as any other genre. 

Opera comes from the same wellspring as other genres of music — passion, the full range of human experience and emotion, and the pursuit of truth and beauty.

A means of expressing what it means to be human without having to explain it. No less universal and comprehensible at a visceral level than any other art form.

Opera is not the only vocal form of music, but it is perhaps the most specialized and demanding of vocal arts, in terms of talent, technique and raw power.

It takes a lot of training and a great coach to make an opera singer reach the upper echelons of the art.

This month on The Enright Files, conversations with opera insiders about the inner workings of opera and the people who make and perform it. 

Guests in this episode:

  • Stuart Hamilton was a vocal coach and the first artistic director of the Canadian Opera Company. He died in 2017.
  • Briane Nasimok is a Canadian operatic mute.
  • Richard Bradshaw was a British opera conductor and the general director of Canadian Opera Company. He died in 2007.

* This episode was produced by Chris Wodskou.

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