Taylor McCaffrey brings passion for opera centre stage

By Darlene Ronald

Taylor McCaffrey
Vocalist Lisa Bell with band members Carlin Lemon, piano; Julian Bradford, bass; and Rob Siwik, drums at a recording session for Manitoba Opera’s video series, The Solo Sessions.

Timing is everything it’s said, which is why it’s so encouraging that Taylor McCaffrey picked 2021, pandemic and all, to become a Manitoba Opera sponsor.

“Manitoba Opera, like so many organizations, has had to reinvent itself during COVID-19,” says Remo De Sordi, a managing partner at the firm. As a Performance Sponsor for The Solo Sessions, a five-episode series of online musical performances that launched in early June, Taylor McCaffrey has helped Manitoba Opera find new ways to connect with audiences.

Founded in 1979, Taylor McCaffrey has deep roots in Winnipeg and a long history of community involvement. “We’ve always felt it was our responsibility to give back to the community, whether it’s by serving on boards, supporting organizations, sponsoring local events, or providing pro bono work,” explains Remo. This drive to get involved, Remo suggests, reflects the vision of the law firm’s founders, D’Arcy McCaffrey and Reeh Taylor.

Every year, Taylor McCaffrey partners with local organizations, businesses, and causes to support over 100 events and to help forge a better, stronger, more connected community. According to Remo, this commitment to community building fuels the firm’s ongoing support of music and the performing arts, which are “so much a part of what makes Winnipeg a great prairie city to live in.”

“When it comes to the arts, I always marvel at how much above our weight Winnipeg punches,” Remo explains. “We’re a mid-sized city, but if you take a look at all our cultural options, we seem much bigger.”

Remo, who served on Manitoba Opera’s Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2012, has been a music lover since childhood, when opera was often playing in the background at his home.

“I think opera is more accessible than people think at first blush,” he suggests.

“It’s the confluence of a bunch of different disciplines – vocals, acting, the orchestra, set design, lighting – there are a lot of parts to take in. Plus, where else can you find pretty much the entire spectrum of human emotions jampacked into two-and-a-half hours?”

While Remo finds it difficult to pinpoint a favourite opera, “I think Butterfly would be up there,” he was struck by Manitoba Opera’s fall 2019 production of Susannah. “I thought it was just really well done, but it was also an interesting production for our current time, a way of supporting the #MeToo movement.”

He’s excited by the possibilities of The Solo Sessions, which highlights five Winnipeg vocalists and talented musicians working in a range of genres. Designed and directed by Winnipeg filmmaker Deco Dawson, the series is a convergence of film, theatre, and music that provide high-quality performance experiences to enjoy during this challenging moment in time.

And as Remo sees it, The Solo Sessions is also a way of looking forward. “I’m sure that anyone watching these videos will be excited at the thought of gathering together again to see live performances.”

For more information on The Solo Sessions, go to mbopera.ca

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