By BRENDA GOUGH
Canadian opera legend Tatiana Vasilieva will be presenting The Elixir of Love this weekend despite a deep personal loss. The woman who is the driving force behind the Vancouver Island Opera has announced that her beloved husband died on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Nicholas Maloff had been in palliative care at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for five days before he died from a massive stroke.
The 74-year-old retired professor had suffered a stroke three years earlier and Vasilieva said he was quite well physically but it affected his optic nerve. She said he was too young to go and their son Nikolai and daughter Natasha were at his bedside in the hospital.
“We shared our grief. Thank God he did not suffer too long.”
The death has been devastating for Vasilieva and came just one week before she was to present L’Elisir d’Amore at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.
Vasilieva is the producer of The Elixir of Love and despite her grief and sadness she said the show this weekend will go on.
“It is what he would have wanted. He loved the music so much. He said the music was so beautiful and please do it … so I will present the opera in his memory.”
The producer admitted she is devastated but there are good people helping her with the production of the opera and keeping busy will help keep her mind off the empty feeling she has of missing someone so close to her.
Vasilieva has enjoyed a long and renowned opera career. When she was about 18 years old she and her family left their homeland of Yugoslavia and moved to Italy and by age 20 she started her opera career and spent 10 years in Italy studying the very difficult and demanding art form.
Those 10 years were very exciting for Vasilieva but with her parents and brother living in Canada, she was swayed into leaving Italy.
She moved to Canada which had little to offer in the way of opera at the time and she struggled to learn English and find a venue for her talent.
Then she met Nicholas Maloff at a Russian Church in Toronto and the romantic tale of their life together could easily be the script for the operas she has not only performed in but directed as well.
“He was the love of my life.”
She said she met him when he was a conductor and he needed a soloist.
“I auditioned and the rest is history.”
Her husband, who taught Russian literature and music, was Vasilieva’s biggest fan.
“I went to rehearsal on Sunday. Nicholas gave me the strength. It went beautiful and I want to do the show for him.”
The comic opera composed by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, is a tale of romance, larceny, war and love potions.
Vasilieva said the opera has glorious music and singing and should appeal to a wide audience.
It is the eighth full length feature production of the opera and Vasilieva, who founded the VIO 11 years ago to provide opportunities for local talent to participate in operatic productions, said the community has shown its appreciation for what they do and she hopes they will come out this weekend and continue to support the art form.
There are two performances at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. that will include a full orchestra.
Tickets are available at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, Chocolates Plus in Qualicum Beach and at Tom Lee Music in Nanaimo.
Vasilieva said there will be a celebration of life for her husband in the near future.