Windsor native and soprano Brianna DeSantis brings her brilliant high notes to a double bill opera, “Til Death Do Us Part?”, set to take place in Windsor this Saturday (May 4) in support of Mental Health.
“Til Death Do Us Part?” is a co-production of Toronto-based collective, Opera by Request and Windsor’s first independent opera company, Abridged Opera. The production, part of Opera by Request’s 2018/2019 season, features Dominick Argento’s operas A Waterbird Talk, and Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night. The two operas are frequently paired together because they both explore the ins and outs of marriages, albeit not as everlasting as one would hope.
Baritone Parker Clements takes on the role of The Lecturer in A Waterbird Talk. Set at a podium at a provincial club meeting in Maryland in the late 19th century, a gentleman lecturer addresses a ladies’ club on the subject of water birds. His descriptions of the birds’ peculiar habits are actually metaphors meant to rant about his overbearing, domineering wife and daughters who constantly make fun of him.
Brianna Desantis, in addition to being the project lead, takes on the role of Miss Havisham in Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night. On the morning of her wedding day, Miss Havisham was dressing for the ceremony when a note arrived from the groom-to-be who backed out of the marriage. She spends her time over the next fifty years reliving the disastrous day of her intended wedding. Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night is one long mad scene, which is how Brianna came up with the idea to partner with the Windsor Essex chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“Traditionally, operas were used to effect socio-political change, so why not continue that tradition?” stated Brianna. “By partnering with a charitable organization like CMHA-WE, we benefit the art form and the community in which it presents its work.”
This event kicks of National Mental Health week in Canada and $5 of every ticket sold will be donated to CMHA-WE. Music Director, William Shookhoff and pianist, Claire Harris will be the orchestra for the production.
This project is special because it shines a light on gender disparity in madness, specifically in Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, which is an extended mad scene written in the vein of Lucia di Lammermoor. The opera provides a commentary on madness during the 19th century, where madness was often viewed as the irrational “female” reaction to the rationality of the “male.”
The production seeks to highlight this gender disparity and offer a different perspective on what madness involves, that way the audience can decide. While the music may be unfamiliar, the message the operas seek to send is one that will resonate with many. Each opera has a running time of approximately 35 minutes. They are both presented in English and the project is sponsored by the City of Windsor.
“Til Death Do Us Part?” will take place in Windsor at Paulin Memorial Presbyterian Church (3200 Woodland Ave.) on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Tickets are $25 each at the door.