Atom Egoyan’s Beginnings and Endings
Atom Egoyan is dealing with a dilemma.
He’s an Oscar-nominated film director and screenwriter. Internationally recognized opera director. Critically acclaimed stage director.
In other words, Egoyan can do everything.
Problem is, he can’t do it all.
And he’s the first to acknowledge that.
His Canadian Opera Company production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti opened last week at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto and runs through Feb. 21.
His film, Devil’s Knot, with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, opens Friday.
It’s about the Memphis Three — adolescents found guilty for the murder of young boys whose bodies were discovered in a swamp 20 years ago.
And his next movie, The Captive, is already in the can and ready for release.
Right now, the 53-year old Torontonian is debating about whether to accept a starry invitation to direct a “major” opera in New York.
He’s more and more in demand as an opera director. With Cosi Fan Tutti, the artist known for investigating the shadows and probing human pain and loss has taken on what is essentially an operatic rom-com.
The Mozart opera about two pairs of young lovers whose faithfulness is put to the test is traditionally presented as a frothy opera buffa.
“It’s a very silly story about switched identities,” explains Egoyan.
He adds, “A director of Cosi has to find way to deal with the artificiality of the piece. “Setting it in a fabled place in Italy, making it ornate: that version does exist on Youtube, including the best traditional staging of the piece by Nicholas Hytner. The COC had done a traditional version. When they approached me, it was to do something new with it.”
He says that if it’s remounted, he might “trim down some of the visual exuberance and become more selective with the visual references.”
And although he enjoyed doing Cosi, finding it “liberating,” he says, “I don’t know if I’d rush to do another comedic opera.”
He’s unsure, too, about whether to go ahead with the “major” New York opera he’s been invited to stage.
“Last year was insane,” he says. “I can’t keep up that pace. It’s a strain physically and I worry about all the people I’m working with getting the best of me.”
He recalls, almost with horror, that when push came to shove last year, when he was working on a Chinese opera for Luminato and in pre-production for Devil’s Knot, he briefly considered, “for a crazy moment,” doing some opera rehearsals through Skype.