Professor premieres his first opera

Queen’s music professor John Burge pens The Auction after ten years of work

Professor John Burge says The Auction was based on a children’s story by Jan Andrews.
Image by: Tiffany Lam
Professor John Burge says The Auction was based on a children’s story by Jan Andrews.

John Burge just crossed one more thing off his bucket list.

The music professor recently premiered his first opera, entitled The Auction.

“I think that all composers have things that they want to accomplish in their lives and opera is one of those bucket list things that as a composer if you get a chance to do it you want to do it to say you tried,” Burge said.

The opera is based on Jan Andrews’ children’s story by the same name. It revolves around the main character, Granddad, having to sell his land after his wife dies and he is unable to farm anymore.

The Auction was shown at the Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford, ON and it premiered on June 30.

“What was accomplished in that period of time was just mind blowing. They did really well,” Burge said.

Performing in this opera gave Matthew Zadow, ArtSci ’98, a chance to share the stage with his mentor and former professor, Bruce Kelly.

Kelly plays the part of Granddad in the opera, and in a series of flashbacks, Zadow plays his childhood counterpart.

“Almost no one ever gets to sing on the stage with their teacher,” Zadow said.

Performed in a barn-style concert hall in rural Ontario during the Westben Arts Festival Theatre, Zadow said that the setting of the opera made it relatable to the audience.

“The pain of having to leave the family farm and having to sell the thing that you had hoped to hand down resonated with the people.”


John Burge, opera, The Auction

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