Toronto composer James Rolfe (b. Ottawa, 1961) has been commissioned and performed by ensembles, orchestras, choirs, and opera companies in Canada, the USA, Europe, and New Zealand. His work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship (2000), the K. M. Hunter Music Award (2003), the Louis Applebaum Composers Award (2005), the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music (2006), and SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award (2009), and the 2014 Outstanding Choral Work Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.
In 1999, the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company production of Mr. Rolfe’s opera Beatrice Chancy won audience acclaim and rave reviews in Toronto, Dartmouth, and Edmonton. In 2009, the Puddings produced the opera Inês, which was nominated for a Dora Award. His operas Orpheus and Eurydice and Aeneas and Dido were premiered by The Toronto Masque Theatre in 2004 and 2007. Elijah’s Kite, an opera for children, was co-produced in New York in 2006 by Tapestry New Opera Works and the Manhattan School of Music, and later given its Canadian premiere before the Governor-General at Rideau Hall. His opera Swoon was premiered in December 2006 by the Canadian Opera Company, which has since commissioned a new opera, Crush.
Current projects include a dance theatre work with choreographer James Kudelka and writer Alex Poch-Goldin for Coleman Lemieux Compagnie, premiering in May 2016, and a new operatic version of Gogol’s The Overcoat for Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera with librettist/director Morris Panych, to be produced in fall 2017.
“I can’t recall attending such a gripping premiere in many years of opera-going.”
– Peter Dyson, Opera Magazine (UK)
“Percussive pulses, colour, and tension are served up with refinement.”
– Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant [Amsterdam]
“One of our most gifted composers of new concert music.”
– Andrew Timar, The Whole Note, Toronto