Amiel Gladstone makes his Pacific Opera Victoria debut as director of the 2013 production of Puccini's Tosca.Amiel is a West Coast based writer and director. As a director, his productions have been site specific both in unusual venues and in traditional theatres. He has written and directed for a variety of companies, including Alberta Theatre Projects, Arts Club, Belfry Theatre, Caravan Farm Theatre, the Guild and Ramshackle in Whitehorse, Theatre Conspiracy, Theatre Replacement, Theatre SKAM, Vancouver Opera, and Vancouver Playhouse.
Recent projects include the world première of Craigslist Cantata for Arts Club / PuSh Festival, world première of 100% Vancouver for PuSh Festival / Theatre Replacement, Canadian première of This at the Vancouver Playhouse, Tape for Alley Theatre, Lucia di Lammermoor for Vancouver Opera, world première of Extraction with Theatre Conspiracy. He is thrilled to be making his directorial debut with POV, having sung in the chorus of Un ballo in maschera in the previous century.
Amiel Gladstone is a director and playwright whose work has been produced throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe. A founding member of Victoria's Theatre SKAM, Amiel has directed for many leading Canadian companies, including the Belfry, Touchstone, Caravan Farm Theatres and the National Arts Centre. We are delighted that he is making his Pacific Opera Victoria debut with our upcoming production of Tosca. Robert Holliston interviews Amiel
You've had an extremely varied career in theater as a creator, director and performer - have you always been drawn to music as well?
Yes. Some of my closest friends are musicians. Many of the plays that I've directed have included live music in them. I feel it's an intrinsic part of the live experience. Like many people I feel a bit jealous of musicians too – their ability to jam with each other. I love the clear open emotion of it.
What led you to the wacky world of opera? Were you taken to see operas as a child or youth?
A few years back Vancouver Opera asked me if I wanted some training as a Stage Director. They felt that my theatre directing could be applicable to opera. I spent a few years training there, assistant directing a couple of shows, directing the touring productions for children and taking masterclasses. Subsequently I directed Lucia di Lammermoor there. My grandfather was an opera singer and he and my grandmother taught singing for years in Toronto, so it is in my blood a little. But my watching experience has been much more in the musical theatre world.
Music theatre must present certain challenges to a director simply because some of the material is sung rather than spoken – these challenges are heightened in opera because of foreign languages and strictly instrumental passages. How have you enjoyed dealing with them?
You've managed to ask me about the hardest part – the foreign language. The language of music is much more emotive and intuitive. Working on something that's entirely in Italian, it can be hard to wrap my brain around it. But the challenges are what make me embrace it – I like how it twists my brain around and keeps me on my toes.
Is this your first go at Tosca? What is there about the story and characters that excites you? (Other than the fact that all three principals die before the last curtain...)
My first Tosca. I love the intrigue at play. The power dynamic. How the love between Tosca and Cavaradossi is complicated. I like that Scarpia is appealing and repellent at the same time. I like that it can feel like an intimate drama between three main players and a huge story all at the same time. I guess it's the contradictions that I like.
I really enjoyed visiting your website and reading your views about operatic – and Shakespearean – productions today. Can you divulge anything about your plans for Tosca, or do we have to wait until opening night?
Christina and I have talked a lot about the heart of the drama and focused on the characters as much as possible. We've looked at many different versions of Rome and the actual spaces and come up with a highly theatricalized version that is beautiful and ugly. I want to create a production that appeals to purists, but with enough surprises to keep us wondering what's coming next. Again – reveling in the contradictions.