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Director Sandra Graham remixes two opera classics for the 21st century

Photo: Jessica Eritou

Sandra Graham’s direction and Paula Lin’s piano playing for Opera Confections couldn’t have been sweeter.

Set in Huguette Labelle Hall, the minimalistic set was all that was needed for the University of Ottawa production. The focus was on the School of Music performance students. Although the men were dressed simply in slacks and button-downs, the women wore elaborate ball gowns in jewel tone colours, which stood out from the stage’s crème-coloured pillars and beige backdrop.

Graham’s first production of the evening, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, was broken up into short two acts. Graham threw in some clever treats for those who were paying attention, like having a character writing on a laptop, originally performed with a handwritten note, to warn the Contessa, one of the main characters, of her husband’s wandering eye.

Carmen was more of a visual spectacle, with stronger choreographed performances. A standout solo performance from Valérie Poission singing “Je dis, que rien ne m’épouvante” kept the audience in awe.

The finale featuring “The Toreador Song” sing-a-long got the audience going, with Kevin Burke cast as celebrity figure Toreador Escamillo amidst a fanatic crowd of girls trying to snap selfies with him while fighting off paparazzi.

Graham’s style of direction made for an entertaining and enlightening evening as she captured the audience’s attention with modern-day pop culture references to bring opera to a young 21st-century crowd.


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper