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Passion fills the opera stage

The thrill of Otello and the laughs of Spamalot
Holly Cole performs at the Royal Theatre Dec. 19.

Victoria’s opera season begins with Otello and closes with A Midsummer Night’s Dream – sandwiched between is the frothy cream of The Barber of Seville. With Verdi and Britten’s adaptations of Shakespeare and Rossini’s take on Beaumarchais, Pacific Opera Victoria celebrates theatre, reborn as dazzling opera.

On stage Oct. 15 to 25, Otello sets the stage for drama with insinuation and lies, malevolence and false kindness as this Verdi tragedy unfolds. Established as one of the world’s most promising and exciting dramatic tenors of his generation, Lithuanian tenor Kristian Benedikt makes his Canadian debut in the title role.

Rossini’s Barber of Seville runs Feb. 11 to 21. This all-Canadian production features Antonio Figueroa as Almaviva, Sylvia Szadovszki as Rosina, and Clarence Frazer as Figaro, is directed by Morris Panych and conducted by Timothy Vernon.

A spat between the king and queen of fairies spills into the human realm, as A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes the stage April 14 to 24. David Trudgen is Oberon with Suzanne Rigden as Tytania. Acclaimed Scottish bass baritone Brian Bannatyne-Scott returns to POV as Bottom.

The Victoria Operatic Society has some fun in store beginning Dec. 4 to 13 with the classic romantic, musical comedy Meet Me in St. Louis. The show spotlights four sisters on the cusp of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, learning about life and love, courtesy of the prototypical boy next door. In the end, love — accompanied by song, dance and period costumes — conquers all.

In the spring VOS presents Monty Python’s Spamalot, an international musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend, but differs from the film in many ways. The original 2005 Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004/2005 season.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society jump start their season by joining forces on Nov. 22 with the Victoria Civic Orchestra in a concert to raise money for Victoria Hospice while also benefiting future performances. The program includes Edvard Grieg’s Symphonic Dances op. 64; Camille Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto, no 4, c minor; Gilbert & Sullivan excerpts from Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado. Their next presentation is April 1 to 3 at the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney and April 9 and 10 at the McPherson Playhouse when they perform The Gondoliers.

Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins the Victoria Symphony Orchestra for one sold out performance in December. Ma will perform Dvorák’s spectacular Concerto for Cello. Maestra Tania Miller leads the orchestra in Beethoven’s majestic Symphony No. 7 to complete a perfect evening of music.

Guest conductor Robert Franz leads the Victoria Symphony for the annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah Dec. 18, with an additional matinee performance Dec. 20 at 2:30pm.

Continuing the holiday flavour, Juno-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Holly Cole returns to the VSO to delight audiences with her versatile and distinctive voice, Dec. 19. Mixing jazz, pop and your favourite holiday music, her unique interpretations and original music are applauded as being highly musical, intensely innovative, and refreshingly witty.

On April 4, the Symphony’s first cross-Canada tour ends at home with a tour-de-force concert featuring a premiere of a new work by composer Michael Oesterle. After three sold-out performances during their last Victoria visit, the talented and high flying performers from Cirque de la Symphonie return to the Royal to delight and amaze April 29.