The Huronia Symphony stages a Night At the Opera, moving the traditional Sunday afternoon concert to Saturday evening, in honour of the occasion.

It’s been a few years since artistic director and conductor Oliver Balaburski has featured singers with the Barrie-based orchestra.  He marked his first concert conducting the HSO with one featured singer almost a decade ago but the largest performance by far was in 2016 when Barrie’s Choralfest staged Opera Carmen.

“The whole idea of having this opera concert was before Carmen we were not sure how the audience would accept a whole performance of opera but it was full,” he said. “I think that Barrie likes singing. It’s good to be able to do it again.”s

A Night at the Opera will feature four soloists: two sopranos, one tenor and one baritone/bass. Three are graduating students from the Glenn Gould School, all rising talents on the cusp of their professional careers. While all have performing experience, this concert will mark their first Barrie appearance. The fourth singer, one of two sopranos is Aleksandra Balaburska, a professional singer and musician who teaches locally but rarely performs.

The program will include a wide variety of opera, a mix of instrumental and vocal pieces.

“We have a lot of composers featured in this concert,” he said. “I’ve managed to showcase pieces from some of the staples of the operatic world, individual pieces from the operas, (such as) Mozart’s brilliant Overture and Don Giovanni, Puccini, Donizetti, and Antonio Salieri, who was the rival of Mozart in the movie but was not a rival in real life – he was an opera composer in his time.

“They are all pearls of the opera. They’re just amazing pieces,” he added. “It’s just a drop in the water of opera but I hope I managed to pick – not the most popular but most beautiful (pieces).”

Prior to Balaburski’s moving to Canada in 2004, he worked for 15 years at the Opera of Macedonia National Theatre, as artistic manager and principal conductor of the opera company.

He started his career there and met his wife there. He was studying conducting and she was studying singing. His interest in conducting and composing began in high school and he was awarded a scholarship from the Macedonian government to specialize in it.

In 1999 he was awarded the Norman Del Mar Junior Fellowship in Conducting at the Royal College of Music in London, UK, where he specialized in the symphonic repertoire.

“Opera is slightly different than symphonic. The music has more emotion and the message is very direct, focused to the audience,” said Balaburski, who has spent almost 28 years in opera. “It’s a great world to be in (and this concert) is a good opportunity to hear it.”

The Huronia Symphony presents A Night at the Opera Saturday, March 30 at Collier St. United Church at 7 p.m. Individual concert tickets are available at huroniasymphony.ca

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