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The Halifax Summer Opera Workshop

For the past six years, the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop has been bringing young opera singers from across the country together for an intensive period of study that culminates in the staging of two full operas. As well as being a wonderful opportunity for the students, it also gives Haligonians the chance to see a variety of operas (at an affordable price) right here.This year, the offerings are Susannah, a modern opera set in the American South and Handel’s Alcina, a Baroque opera in Italian with English subtitles. Director Garry Williams has removed Alcina from its magical realm and set it during the Spanish Civil War. It’s a successful gambit that makes staging the opera on a shoestring possible. The plot is pure nonsense, but that doesn’t matter as this opera is filled with Handel’s stately/spritely music and some truly outstanding performances. Susannah is an engaging and tragic story anchored by Natalie Donnelly (although the role is double cast) in the titular role. Her voice is both lovely and powerful, and her stage presence is mesmerizing. She is supported by a fine, fine cast. These are two great shows that bring talented performers and a rare cultural opportunity to our city. –Kate Watson

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