Calgary Opera’s ‘Die Tote Stadt’ journeys into dark places

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Calgary Opera opened Die Tote Stadt by Erich Wolfgang Korngold tonight, a Canadian premiere. Korngold won an Oscar for The Adventures of Robin Hood and it was the first time the award was given to a composer.

Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City) tells the story of a man’s fight for his sanity as he is tormented by desire for a seductress who bears a striking resemblance to his ghostly love. Chelsea Van Pelt is an emerging artist who plays the role of Juliet in the opera.

“She actually a figment of Paul’s (the main character) imagination. The scene that I am featured in is actually part of his dream sequence, so I play a role in making his dream kind of wacky,” she says when asked about her role.

“It’s exciting to be part of Canadian premiere. [Die Tote Stadt] has not been done in Canada, which is kind of unbelievable, as it’s been around for such a long time.”

Van Pelt is dressed up in clown costuming for her scene and is exciting about combining dance and singing. “It’s exciting, as it’s something that I haven’t had yet to do [in a production]. I get to combine dance, acrobatics and opera singing.”

When asked about what resonates with her about this opera, Van Pelt speaks about how it has “strong human qualities that we can relate to.” It’s a story about a “journey into a dark place and the journey back into the light.”

“It’s interesting to see these characters go into these incredible emotions. And experiences. And also the fact that it’s so dramatic and the music is so beautiful. That’s what makes it so incredibly special to be a part of.”

You can catch Van Pelt on stage in Calgary Opera’s Die Tote Stadt on Wednesday, February 3rd and Friday, February 5th. More information is available online.

Photo Credit: Trudie Lee Photography

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