Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 20 - 13 Personal Tributes to Canadian Opera Company Maestro Richard Bradshaw

Photo by Michael Cooper

1 - "One of my favorite memories of Richard is him conducting Cosi Fan Tutti at the Elgin. I crept up close to him to shoot at a specific angle and during the show as he is conducting he turned to me, still conducting, and he said 'Oh hello Michael. How are you this evening?' I laughed so hard I completely missed the shot!" - photographer Michael Cooper on Facebook's RIP Richard Bradshaw Group

2 - "Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman recalled being 'terrified' the first time she worked with Bradshaw, since it was her first time to sing French opera. 'He was absolutely brilliant at putting me at ease and making me feel like I was capable and strong,' she said." - Edmonton Sun

3 - Tenor Richard Margison, who not only worked under Bradshaw's baton at the COC, but made several recordings with COC singers, remembered Bradshaw as 'bigger than life, a real bon vivant ready for a little downtime party time. He was always easy to talk to, even though at times you sensed he was distracted with the thousand other things his duties required of him.' " - Charles Enman, The Ottawa Citizen

4 - Marie Berard, concert master at the COC, said Bradshaw was "the heart and soul" of the company. "He showed us every day about integrity. It's so rare to have someone in a position of power who has that, and he showed it to us on a daily basis. That's a huge legacy." - Edmonton Sun

5 - David Visentin, associate dean of the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music where Bradshaw mentored students, called him an 'immense personality. He revitalized opera through all the cutting-edge productions he did with directors like Atom Egoyan and Robert Lepage.' - CanadaEast Online

6 - Tenor Michael Schade recalls that 'Richard thought of Toronto as a great centre of culture, not a little city north of New York and too far away from London's Covent Garden or the Vienna State Opera. The COC really was his main ride, the apple of his eye. He had more feeling for Canada than many native-born Canadians and was a proud ambassador of his adopted land, a true patriarch of our arts community.' - Charles Enman, The Ottawa Citizen

7 - "It reminds me of a conversation I once had with Andrew Chase (chef, restaurateur, composer and now food writer) who was also a big fan of Bradshaw and the amazing achievements of the COC under his aegis. Chase recalls having dinner at Biff’s after the opera and Bradshaw walked in to join a group at another table. 'In New York or London or any major city,' pointed out Chase, 'people would have stood and applauded their city’s great maestro. In Toronto, no one even glanced up. It made me so angry!' " - James Chatto, Toronto Life

8 - "The Four Seasons Centre was Richard's dream and he managed to do it against all the odds. I was with him through some black times, but he was always incurably optimistic." - Kevin Garland, executive director, National Ballet of Canada and formerly of Canadian Opera House Corp.

Photo by Michael Cooper

" 'I had moments of great anxiety,' Mr. Bradshaw told the Globe and Mail in late 2006 about the challenges he faced building the new opera house. 'I'd wake up in the night with a certain terror. But I don't think I ever believed it wasn't going to happen. I don't think I ever absolutely despaired because I don't think the most important thing in life to me is the opera house. The most important thing in my professional life is whatever the company is doing. That's where I'm lucky to be a conductor.' " - Sandra Martin, The Globe and Mail

9 - "Bradshaw was never happier than when he was talking about his family, his wife Diana and their two children, Jenny and James. Their pictures surrounded him in his Front Street office, and mere mention of their names softened his features with pride and love. Clearly, he dreamed of them -- and for them as well. And he made it all seem so very easy, whether it was making music or transforming dreams into reality, or simply being the proud father and husband." - John Coulbourn, The Toronto Sun

10 - "All this past year, the company's first season in the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Bradshaw's entry into the pit on performance nights became a ritual moment for the audience, which never failed to give him a long, loud ovation. I'm sure that as someone who knew the ups and downs of a life in the theatre, he was both flattered and amused to be cheered before a single note had been played." - Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail

11 - "In 1998, as a seventeen-year old student at St. Michael’s Choir school, I arranged for an audition with the Maestro. After hearing me, in the way only he could, he asked me, 'What do you want from us?' So began my relationship or tutelage, with Richard and the Canadian Opera Company. No matter how raw a talent he discovered, he would give that person a chance, and in many cases, several chances. Nine years after I first met Richard, I have completed more than eighteen productions and close to one hundred performances with him.

My father passed away less than a year ago. On that occasion, Richard wrote these words to me, 'Now, you must fulfill all he knew to be possible for you and which you are already achieving so wonderfully.' Today, for the first time, I experienced indescribable emotions - the feeling of being in a void, unconscionable, inept - and lost. We must remember that the COC's father has left us a wonderful home. We must continue to innovate, revolutionize and inspire. 'Now, we must fulfill all he knew to be possible for us and which we are already achieving so wonderfully.' " - Robert Pomakov, bass, Canadian Opera Company

12 - "The Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, recalled Bradshaw telling her at Opera Under The Stars in Ottawa on May 29 that he dreamed of bringing some of the company's productions to several Canadian cities. 'His enthusiasm was contagious,' said Jean.'He ardently promoted opera with boldness, his innovative spirit, and the high standard of his productions.' Bradshaw received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2006. - Reuters article

13 - Carrol Anne Curry, the managing director of Dean Artists Management of Toronto, had several on-air conversations with Bradshaw for CBC Radio's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. 'Richard came like a comet,' she said. 'He came, he flared, and he left a huge trail.' In conversation, she found him 'brilliantly articulate, scholarly, charming -- you really can't avoid saying charismatic. He attracted people, which was part of how he managed to build an opera house that two or three generations of performing artists had been waiting for.' She said Bradshaw, through the broadcast of last fall's Ring Cycle, had uniquely managed to become a personality of national reach. 'That production was broadcast from sea to sea to sea, and the whole country participated in that huge event in the company's life. (Julia's note: I was one of those Canadians gratefully glued to the live on-air broadcasts of all four productions of Der Ring des Nibelungen) 'For the first time since the touring days of the COC, the company truly lived up to its name, was really the Canadian Opera Company." - Charles Enman, The Ottawa Citizen


Comedy + said...

What a nice tribute. This took a lot of research and preperation. Excellent. Have a great TT. :)

Dale said...

Excellent work Julia. I've heard (and seen) Robert Pomakov and enjoyed reading his thoughts, very moving.

Akelamalu said...

Great Tribute Julia.

julia said...

Just read this in the online Globe and Mail and it made me teary:

"It was Richard James Bradshaw's last standing ovation. As his hearse and family drove away from St. James Cathedral in Toronto yesterday, hundreds of mourners - and passersby across the street - began to applaud the Canadian Opera Company's general director one last time."
- Matthew Trevisan

Red Garnier said...

Excellent TT, Julia!! This is a great tribute. =) Big hugs from Red!!

Gabriella Hewitt said...

He sounds like he was a great man.

His work will live on and make him immortal.

Thank you for sharing these memories. Holding a memory will cause it to wither and die but if you carry it and give it to others it will live forever.

Thank you for visiting my TT last week. This week I am thanking my fellow TTer's. Come by and get your thanks!

Amy Ruttan said...

What a great tribute!!!

Anonymous said...

"In 1998, as a seventeen-year old student at St. Michael’s Choir school..."

I used to love stealing girls from the St Mike's Choir Boys at every opportunity.
Granted all this transpired before this young man was born.

Karina said...

What a great tribute this was. Your TT's are always so informational in the world of the arts, and this was was touching as well.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I agree.. very nice tribute!

Jenn in Holland said...

Wow, I am so impressed with this post. It's really quite incredible this lovely display of knowledge. I kinda feel more cultured and wise just having read it!
Thanks for that. Beautiful tribute.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Julia, that is one fantastic tribute. I am overwhelmed.

Hope I'm remembered as fondly one day, but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a wonderful TT -- I learned a lot reading it, and I can tell you put your heart and a lot of effort into it! Thank you!

Happy T13, and thanks for visiting mine. :)

Jill said...

I just don't know much about this stuff...
Thanks for sharing!!

Gattina said...

That's a very interesting post for sure but (of course) I don't know all these people.

Wylie Kinson said...

I have this dream that once the kids are through college, I can retire to Toronto (from 'up north') and immerse myself in the arts...
Ah, only 18-20 more years.

Save me a seat?

Tink said...

Such a wonderful tribute to a man with great personality!
Thanks for visiting Maia's picture TT.

Isabella Snow said...

Wow you are so musical - maybe you should change careers! ;)