Chorus Niagara Presents Semi-Staged Version Of Bach’s Greatest Choral Work  – St. Matthew Passion

Be Part of the Audience – Saturday March 3, 2018 , 7:30 pm Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

News from Chorus Niagara in Niagara, Ontario

Posted February 19th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

CHORUS NIAGARA presents Johann Sebastian Bach’s magnum opus and the opera he never wrote, the monumental St.Matthew Passion.

Chorus Niagara is proud to present this towering masterpiece featuring two choirs, two orchestras and six soloists by a composer at the pinnacle of his creative powers. Patrons will experience a unique and innovative ‘semi-staged’ rendering of one history’s most trans-formative stories.

Artistic Director Robert Cooper notes, ‘I have found over the years that audiences often need/want an added degree of stimulus as an entry point to a major choral work. As my background was first in theatre, I feel we can and should create hybrid arts experiences.”

“I hope the audience will be taken to another place outside of their own life, to a place of reflection and emotion. I want them to let go and get lost in the musical-dramatic experience as it unfolds. I want them to feel the deep emotional/spiritual tug of the music and the inherent musical genius of Bach.’

Director Aria Umezawa

Chorus Niagara has engaged the services of opera stage director Aria Umezawa for this production. Aria Umezawa is the Artistic Director of Toronto-based independent opera company, Opera 5, and the creator, director, and writer of the web series “Opera Cheats”. Her staging of Poulenc’s “La voix humaine” took home the Capital City Critics Circle Critic’s Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival.

As a lover of new and obscure operas, Aria directed the Canadian premier of several works including New York-based composer, Milton Granger’s “Talk Opera”, Darren Russo’s “Storybook” (commissioned by Opera 5) which took home the 2015 SOCAN Foundation Grand Prize, and the North American premier of Cavalli’s “Artemisia” (Helios Opera, Boston).

The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, and Toronto’s Barcza Blog have praised Aria Umezawa for her irreverent, post-modern and quirky visual style. Her work has been featured in Metro News, Jezebel, and The Huffington Post, as well as on the social media pages of opera companies across North America.

Umezawa notes ‘Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is about processing grief. This is a sentiment that I believe a lot of people can understand – the fear that the world is spiraling out of control, and the need to hope that we have not pushed things beyond repair. The humanity of this core message is what has allowed this work to endure for centuries, and why it can be a powerful piece of art today.’

Chorus Niagara’s St. Matthew Passion features two very experienced professional artists; tenor James McLean in the role of Evangelist and baritone Michael Robert-Broder as Christus.

James McLean

James McLean grew up in the city of Toronto, where he began his solo career with the Toronto Symphony, under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Canadian Opera Company. Moving to Germany, he established himself as a lyric Tenor, specializing in the repertoire of Mozart. He has performed the roles of: Tamino, Belmonte and Ferrando, in Nürnberg with Christian Thielemann, in Münich at the Gärtnerplatz Theater, and in Düsseldorf at the Deutsche Operam Rhein. In recent years his repertoire has expanded to include such varied roles as; Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Alfredo in La Traviata, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, Steva in Jenufa and the Prince in Rusalka. Appearances on the concert stage led to engagements throughout Europe and Israel. James has recorded numerous recitals for CBC Canada and WDR Köln. Among the CDs he has made are song cycles by Benjamin Britten, Gerald Finzi and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. James is also a faculty member in the music department at Laurier University.

Michael Robert-Broder

Native to Vancouver, Michael Robert-Broder has established himself as one of Canada’s most versatile young baritones. Equally at home with art song, oratorio, and opera, he has gained a reputation for engaging performances that perfectly join poet’s text with composer’s music and the dramatic essence of a piece. Oratorio performances include Requiems by Mozart, Fauré, and Duruflé, major works by JS Bach, oratorios of G.F. Handel, and works that span from Buxtehude and Schütz to composers of the 21st century. On the lyric stage, Robert-Broder has recently portrayed the roles of Baron Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, Il Conte and Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, the title role of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Peter in Hansel and Gretel, and Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio. Michael’s principal training has been under the guidance of Bruce Pullan, Gary Relyea, and Patrick Raftery.

Additional solo roles are performed by Meave Palmer, soprano; Lillian Brooks, mezzo-soprano; Zach Finkelstein, tenor; Stephen Hegedus bass-baritone and Alan MacDonald, baritone.

Talisker Players provide the orchestral backbone of the performance.

The ‘Concert Choir’ of Chorus Niagara Children’s Choir also perform.

Complimentary pre-concert chat with Robert Cooper and Aria Umezawa for ticket holders at 6:30pm.

This concert generously sponsored by Janet and Peter Partridge.

Tickets are available from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre  BOX OFFICE

PHONE: 905-688-0722 (0PAC) or 905-688-5601 x3700 or toll free 1-855-515-0722 or TTY 905-688-4TTY (4889)


IN PERSON: FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre,  250 St. Paul Street,  St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.  L2R 3M2

  • Single Ticket Prices: (Handling Fee & HST extra)
    Adult: $43, Senior (60+): $41, Under 30: $28, Student (University or College with valid ID): $18
    Child (Age 15 & under): $15, High School Student (with valid ID): $5

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