Brampton, Ontario born Edward Franko has distinguished himself as one of Canada's most energetic and experienced stage directors. His career has also included stints as producer, artistic director, educator, actor and lyric tenor. Mr. Franko has been hailed for his vivid imagination and his unique interpretations of theatre, traditional and contemporary opera and musical theatre. He has developed a large operatic directing repertoire while working with Opera Anonymous, TrypTych, Opera York, Opera Belcanto, Opera Mississauga, Westben Arts Festival Theatre, Southern Ontario Lyric Opera and many others. His innovative stagings have included successful productions of Menotti's The Consul, Menotti's The Medium, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; Puccini's Il Tabarro, Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, Fiddler on the Roof and Puccini's La Boheme.
Mr. Franko has been instrumental in the formation and development of such groups as Songstar Productions, Opera Anonymous (where he acted as chairman of the board, managing director and production director) and TrypTych, a group he co-founded along with William Shookhoff and Lenard Whiting. With TrypTych, he heads TrypTych Concert and Opera division. He has directed Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, Mihalovici's operatic version of Krapp's Last Tape, and Weisgall's operatic version of The Stranger. As well, he has directed the play Krapp Last's Tape by Samuel Beckett and the play The Stronger by August Strindberg. Mr. Franko directed and performed in Mahagonny Songspiel for Tryptych.
He has created and produced a series of cabaret concerts including A Song in My Heart, Heart and Soulstice, Love Notes, The Sound of Sondheim. A Holly Jolly Christmas Cabaret, A Little Fright Music and many others. Mr. Franko also directed Opera Anonymous' English language world premiere of Joseph Quesnel's Lucas et Cecile at the Glenn Gould Studio which garnered rave reviews. He has directed the Canadian Premiere of Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank to critical acclaim. He directed the world premiere of Andrew Ager's Frankenstein to great critical acclaim. He also directed the first staged performance of Mark Richards' Hamlet (abridged).
He made his successful European directorial debut with his original production of Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank at the Three Rings Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. As well, he stage directed Britten's The Beggar's Opera as part of the Summer Opera School in Chichester, Great Britain.
He helped spearhead the Toronto International Chamber Music Festival, which made its debut in the summer of 2003, returned in 2004 and 2006. As producer, director and performer, he, along with his partners Lenard Whiting and William Shookhoff, presented a series of original programs featuring artists from Australia, Austria, Germany, United States, Canada and England.
Active as an opera educator, Mr. Franko has worked with The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto (Rodelinda, Magic Flute); Creative Artist's Productions (Cosi Fan Tutte, The Impresario, Orpheus in the Underworld, Old Maid and the Thief ); Opera Anonymous (Abduction from the Seraglio) and JHS Opera (Il Trittico, Lucia di Lamermoor). He has been a regular contributor to Pro Voce's annual opera/vocal workshop for many years. He has acted as stage director for Yoriko and Her Shooting Stars in Ottawa, a programme aimed at educating youth about opera, and that has featured the esteemed Stuart Hamilton as narrator. As well, he has acted as the original Artistic Director of Bytown Opera Works (Ottawa, Ontario).
With TrypTych, he has helped develop its workshop division and has stage directed Rigoletto, The Tales of Hoffman, The Most Happy Fella, The Boys from Syracuse, A Kurt Weill Kabaret, Send in the Sondheim, Little Women and many others. He has directed Adamo's Little Women with Halifax Summer Opera Workshop in 2009 and returned in 2012 to be a mentor for first-time opera directors as well as present master classes in operatic performance.
TrypTych has partnered with Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra going on five years, and in that time has presented Don Giovanni, Il Tabarro, Gianni Schicchi, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Suor Angelica and Hansel and Gretel under the stage direction of Mr. Franko. TrypTych and CBSO collaboration will be back in February 2020.
Mr. Franko has been stage director since 2015 for Opera Belcanto of York directing La Boheme, La Traviata, Madame Butterfly and Lucia di Lammermoor. He returns in 2019 to direct Aida.
As a professional tenor, Mr. Franko has many oratorio and opera roles to his credit. In oratorio, he has been heard in Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, Elgar's Coronation Ode, Haydn's St. Cecilia Mass and many others. His operatic roles include Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Charles Darwin in The Leviathan Hook, Charlie in Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel and the lead fowl in Doolittle's Charlie the Chicken. He has made many cabaret appearances in shows including Another Opening, Another Show, Life is a Cabaret, Heart Songs, Heart and Soulstice, Brush up Your Tenor, Holly Jolly Christmas Cabaret and many others. He has performed with the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Ontario, Opera York, Opera Anonymous, Maritime Concert Opera and many others.
Mr. Franko continues an active performing career and has developed a series of eclectic programs. These include A Tale of Two Tenors, A Tale of Two Tenors 2, To Lucia with Love, Lotza Lanza and Za'more and A Two Tenor Tribute to Tattie. These popular and audience-friendly programs have been seen across Ontario.