In honour of Canada 150, we’re spending the week leading up to Canada Day shining the spotlight on some of Canada’s greatest classical artists!
In the summer of 1977 I was accepted as an apprentice of Mario Bernardi at the National Arts Centre where we prepared three operas, Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos, Donizetti, Don Paquale and Mozart Magic Flute. Intense was not the word. With Mario you had to be on top of your game every day or you paid in embarrassment. By the end of two months he trusted me to conduct piano rehearsals for Ariadne in his absence and I was over the moon with happiness.
His rehearsals were effective and direct with no time wasted and I’ve made every effort to keep that as a model for work.
We connected off and on over the years and it was always a pleasure. What I admired most, and there’s plenty to admire, was his building of the National Arts Center orchestra from the ground up. That was an accomplishment for Canada.
My last visit to him shortly before his passing was to ask for input on a couple of scores that were giving me trouble. He was ill but still sharp and we went over the possibilities. At the end of that final visit I had my doubts but he said, “Kerry, you’ll be fine.” In retrospect I like to think of that as a benediction.
P.S. If you want just one sentence it would be this….Bernardi’s Mozart has never been eclipsed for me.