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The choir knew something was afoot as the lights dimmed and an imposing man with long, jet-black hair stepped out from the shadows. Then he began to sing. And we knew why director Syd Birrell had made us memorize the first few bars of the opening chorus of Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

The singer was none other than Alex Dobson, who will perform the role of “Elijah” with the choir in May of 2018. Those of you who attended last May’s Mozart concert will remember Alex well. Aside from his “rich baritone” and “dashing and charismatic” stage presence (Review Vancouver, 2011), he has great comedic timing. (He joked with the audience last spring that he had just come off an engagement playing “Don Giovanni” with the Florentine Opera—of Milwaukee.)

Touted as “one of the most impressive Canadian baritones of his generation,” Alex is also a “wonderful actor” (Opera Canada). He is in town for a few days performing at Westben in a new comic opera entitled Bandits in the Valley, with words by Julie Tepperman and music by Benton Roark.

As Alex mentioned last night, he plays George Taylor, the owner of the most productive paper mill in the British Empire. But George wants more; he wants to harvest the trees of the entire Don Valley, which puts him in conflict with the bandits of that valley. To learn the outcome, you’ll need a ticket!

There is only one performance of this new work at Westben, Friday, September 22 at 4 pm. (Saturday and Sunday shows in Toronto have been sold out, according to Opera Ramblings, so this performance is an opportunity.)

Even if some of the Peterborough Singers are prevented because of work from attending Bandits in the Valley this Friday, we are grateful to Alex Dobson for bringing us a taste of how dramatic and moving Elijah will be to sing come spring.

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