We last left Lillian Alling at the Oakalla Prison Farm, just outside Vancouver, where she’d been incarcerated by Constable Wyman after trying to steal food from the spirited telegrapher, Scotty Macdonald, along the telegraph trail in northern BC.
As the curtain rises on Act 2, the past and the present become more entwined. It’s spring 1928 and Lillian has been released from Oakalla to find work in a café in Vancouver. She is determined to continue her search for Jozéf Nikitich Lazinsky when Scotty Macdonald appears on the scene. Meanwhile, in the present, not only is Jimmy hearing the story of Lillian ‘the mystery woman’ from his mother Irene for the first time, he has discovered a connection to his own past and his father Scotty Macdonald.
In late November, the creative team of John Estacio, John Murrell and Kelly Robinson met at Holy Rosary Hall for the final 10 day music workshop to delve into Act 2.
With singers Allison Angelo, Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, Rebecca Hass, Keith Klassen, Colin Ainsworth, Gregory Dahl, Thomas Goerz, Calvin Powell, Karen Ydenberg, Barbara Towell, Brian Lee and Willy Miles-Grenzberg and accompanied by pianists Kinza Tyrrell and David Boothroyd with music dramaturge Leslie Dala and stage manager Theresa Tsang, they dive in.
It’s exciting, focused and intense. This process demands such creative generosity and flexibility from all the participants as the new scenes are worked through one day, re-written overnight, re-worked the next day.
Here stage director Kelly Robinson works through a scene with Allison Angelo singing the role of Lillian and Aaron St. Clair Nicholson singing the role of Scotty to explore the libretto and music from all angles.
Sometimes the cuts are embraced, other times there is the realization of the power of the original inspiration, and sometimes there is still dissatisfaction and more re-working to be done. Who knew there was a ‘cutting room floor’ in opera?
~ Jennifer Lord, Special Projects Manager
Audio clip: Irene tells her son Jimmy about his dad, Scotty Macdonald
Audio clip: Scotty tracks down Lillian in Vancouver
Aaron St Clair Nicholson