The Making of FILUMENA


In October 2000, The Banff Centre and Calgary Opera announced the co-commissioning of FILUMENA, with score by John Estacio and libretto by John Murrell.

Three musical/dramaturgical workshops were held at The Banff Centre to develop FILUMENA over the 15 months leading up to the world premiere. These workshops allowed the creative team of composer, librettist, designers, director, musical dramaturge, and conductor to see and hear their own progress as portrayed by young singers under expert mentorship. This is a kind of "insurance policy" for new work of scale, and helps to mitigate the risks of presenting new opera, which for many Canadian producers, is the greatest impediment to their commitment to new work. It also gives young performers the chance to be up close and personally connected to the creative process.

Dozens of young artists and theatre artisans have experienced transformative professional development by contributing to the workshopping, rehearsal, and building of FILUMENA. All the collaborators on FILUMENAJohn Estacio, Composer; John Murrell, Librettist; Sue LePage and Harry Frehner, the Designers; Kelly Robinson, Stage Director; Wayne Strongman, Musical Dramaturge; Bob McPhee Co-producer; and Bramwell Tovey, Maestro for the premiere performances — gave of themselves most generously to ensure the best possible preparation for this fresh, vital, and beautiful new opera.

FILUMENA was premiered at Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium on February 1, 2003 and revived for the August 2003 Banff Summer Arts Festival — a true Albertan story, set by Alberta creators, developed in the international creative laboratory of The Banff Centre.

In January 2003, Mclean's Magazine published an article about Filumena. Click on the link below to read it at "The Canadian Encyclopeida" website:

Calgary Opera's "Filumena"- The Canadian Encyclopedia


What critics have said about FILUMENA:


"There are some 80 made-in-Canada operas in existence. "Filumena" is likely to be the one best remembered and performed most often worldwide."

“One of the most effective operatic scores ever produced in this country, wedded to one of the most skillfully constructed librettos… if there can be said to be such a thing as an active Canadian operatic repertoire, Filumena surely deserves a place in it.”
–William Littler, The Toronto Star

“Glorious, hummable, singable melodies woven into a sophisticated tapestry of music drama.”
–Richard Todd, Ottawa Citizen

“Filumena made a powerful impact as a work of art, moving the emotions of all who saw and heard it”...
“….the longest and most sustained ovation I have seen in more than 25 years.”

–Kenneth Delong, The National Post

“Estacio’s music is bold….”
–Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail

"There's a musical grandness to...Filumena, but its true dimensions are on an ordinary human scale which gives the work its extraordinary power."
–Bill Rankin, Edmonton Journal

"Estacio's expansive and melodic music builds impressively from the upbeat opening through a multilayered, complex but still accessible score to the final moments of Filumena's short life."

“If ever a contemporary opera deserved a shelf life, Filumena is the one.”
–Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail

“Mimi and Madame Butterfly move over; there’s a new heroine on the block and her name is Filumena.”
–Bob Clark , Calgary Herald




2006 AMPIA Awards (Alberta Film and Television Awards):

Special Jury Award

Winner of 4 Betty Mitchell Awards (2003):

  • Outstanding New Play (John Murrell)
  • Outstanding Musical Direction (Bramwell Tovey)
  • Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Laura Whalen)
  • Outstanding Production of a Musical (Calgary Opera)