(Halifax/Kjipuktuk, NS) Composer Monica Pearce’s one-act opera Etiquette is being released by Leaf Music and Essential Opera. The twenty-one minute work features three influential 1920s women: author, critic and satirist Dorothy Parker (known for her wit and wisecracks), author and socialite Emily Post, and American-born British politician Nancy Astor. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in politics, and At Home (the book by Emily Post) was published in 1922, noting the importance of etiquette in all aspects of life: “Consideration for the rights and feelings of others is not merely a rule for behavior in public but the very foundation upon which social life is built.” When reviewing the work, however, Parker observed that, “Those who have mastered etiquette seem to arrive at exquisite dullness.”
Commissioned by Essential Opera, this world-premiere recording was made possible with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Nova Scotia. The album was recorded at St. Andrew’s United Church in Halifax. A stylish short film is also being released in the coming months.
Monica Pearce composed the music, and the librettist is John Terauds. The recording features sopranos Maureen Batt and Erin Bardua, Mezzo-soprano Lucy Hayes Davis, pianist Tara Scott, and clarinetist Brad Reid.
Essential Opera’s recent productions include short opera films by Canadian women composers. Founded in 2010 in Toronto by Erin Bardua and Maureen Batt, the company has commissioned many new works, receiving support from SOCAN, Ontario Arts Council, Arts Nova Scotia, and The Canada Council for the Arts. Their mission is to give audiences opportunities to experience opera at its most essential, with a dynamic and evolving definition of what is essential.
Monica Pearce is a Canadian composer specializing in opera, chamber music and everything toy-piano-related. After completing her Bachelor of Music at Mount Allison University with a focus on piano and composition, Monica has a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Toronto and co-founded emerging composer collective, the Toy Piano Composers, with Chris Thornborrow. Her compositions have been performed and commissioned by many leading ensembles. She won the Harry Freedman Award for her harpsichord work toile de jouy and was nominated for Classical Composer of the Year by the 2022 East Coast Music Awards for Maureen Batt’s recording of Aunt Helen. In 2022 she released her debut album Textile Fantasies, a multi-work piece including eight works inspired by textiles and patterns. Called “vivid,” “pleasantly intricate,” “imaginative and meaningful,” by reviewers, this recording features performances by keyboardists Cheryl Duvall, Wesley Chen, Barbara Pritchard, and Joseph Ferretti, tabla player Shawn Mativetsky, and renowned ensembles TorQ Percussion and SHHH!! Ensemble. Monica is active as a librettist and worked with composer Cecilia Livingston on the Dora-nominated opera on the life of Anne Frank entitled Singing Only Softly.
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