U of R Professor brings centuries old opera back to life

By Costa Maragos Posted: April 23, 2015 8:30 a.m.

Tara Semple (l) and Dr. Pauline Minevich (r), members of Per Sonatori.
Tara Semple (l) and Dr. Pauline Minevich (r), members of Per Sonatori. Photo courtesy of Tara Semple

An English opera, born 260 years ago, has found a new life and it’s thanks in part to the University of Regina’s Dr. Pauline Minevich. The Fairies is a version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and will be performed in Regina by Per Sonatori, Saskatchewan’s only baroque orchestra.

“It will be the first time the opera has been performed since at least 1802,” says Dr. Minevich who is Associate Professor in the U of R’s Music Department and performs with Per Sonatori. “An English opera based on a Shakespeare play might not seem radical to us, but it certainly was in 1755.”

Recently, a full orchestral score of The Fairies was donated to the British Library in London. Dr. Minevich, with funding help from the Humanities Research Institute at the U of R, transcribed the work for performance by Per Sonatori. “Having the opportunity to bring an opera that has been in obscurity for hundreds of years is thrilling,” says Tara Semple, Artistic Director of Per Sonatori.

The evening also offers a glimpse into the music featured at London’s Drury Lane Theatre when it was under the direction of David Garrick from 1747 to 1776. That Per Sonatori will perform some of that work is no coincidence. Dr. Minevich’s doctoral dissertation examines the music at Drury Lane, during Garrick era.

“I want to give the audience a taste of music they might have heard in a London theatre in the mid-eighteenth century. It’s a chance to hear some charming repertoire that certainly has never been performed in Canada before,” says Dr. Minevich who is also Assistant Principal Clarinet with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

The show will feature performers with University of Regina connections including Helen Pridmore, Associate Professor at the U of R Music Department.

“This is a fantastic concert for us we are so pleased to be partnering with the University and presenting this concert,” says Semple.

Dr. Minevich hopes people will come away with a sense of the excitement that existed in London’s theatre scene more than 200 years ago.

“It would have been such an exciting place to be. Lots of wonderful theatre, music, singers, composers and musicians came from all over Europe to live and work in London at that time.”

Event:       The Fairies – An Early English Opera
Date:         Saturday - April 25
Location:   Knox-Metropolitan Church
Time:         7:15 p.m. Pre-Concert Lecture by Dr. Pauline Minevich
                  8 p.m. – Concert

Dr. Minevich is with the Music Department in the U of R’s Faculty of Fine Arts. The Faculty provides an environment for creative expression and also offers studies in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, Creative Technologies, Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.