Edward Franko has distinguished himself as one of Canada's most energetic and experienced stage directors. Along with his active directing schedule, he acts as a producer, artistic director, educator, writer 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 His innovative stagings have included 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, Puccini's La Boheme amongst many others.
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Edward has directed over 80 operatic, musical theatre and theatrical productions. A proponent of new music, he has directed the world premiere of Brian Finley/ Ken Tizzard’s musical The Selfish Giant at Westben Arts Festival. For TrypTych Concert and Opera, (which he is co-artistic director), he directed the Canadian premiere of Frid’s The Diary of Anne Frank and the world premiere of Andrew Ager’s Frankenstein to great critical acclaim. Mr. Franko has directed a workshop of a new Canadian opera by Mark Richards’s based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet and American Composer's Mark Adamo’s Little Women for TrypTych and Halifax Summer Opera Workshop. He also directed Toronto-based Opera Anonymous' English language world premiere of Joseph Quesnel's Lucas et Cecile to rave reviews 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 and stage directing Britten's The Beggar's Opera as part of the Summer Opera School in Chichester, Great Britain. He directed the Canadian "staged" premiere of Verdi's Oberto for Tryptych, returned to Westben to direct/choreograph Fiddler on the Roof and made his debut with Opera Belcanto of York directing Puccini's La Boheme. He returned to Opera Belcanto to direct La Traviata in spring of 2016 and Madama Butterfly in 2017. For the past four years, TrypTych Concert and Opera has joined forces with Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra (Norman Reintamm, Artistic Director) to present Don Giovanni, Il Tabarro, Gianni Schicchi, Amahl and the Night Visitors and Suor Angelica.
He helped spearhead the Toronto International Chamber Music Festival in 2003, 2004 and 2006. As producer, stage director and performer, he, along with Lenard Whiting and William Shookhoff, presented a series of original chamber music programs featuring artists from Australia, Austria, Germany, United States, Canada and England. Mr. Franko has also worked regularly with the Annex Singers of Toronto, a large, enthusiastic choir as stage consultant and director for the series of eclectic and engaging programs including Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales and The Ice Storm.
Active as an opera educator, Mr. Franko has worked with The Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto, Creative Artist's Productions, Opera Anonymous, TrypTych Concert and Opera, Halifax Opera Workshop, Pro Voce Vocal Studios, Yoriko Tanno and her Shooting Stars, Bytown Opera Works and JHS Opera.
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 Luigi and Tinca in Puccini's Il Tabarro, Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Charles Darwin in The Leviathan Hook, Charlie in Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel, Goro in Madama Butterfly, Remendado in Carmen 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 and written a series of programs along with Lenard Whiting and Brett Kingsbury. 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. Most recently, the Mario Lanza tribute has grown into The American Caruso: The Tragedy of Mario Lanza, a multi-media live performance that has been seen in Toronto, Brampton, Guelph, Kenora and Halifax.
The 2017/18 sees Mr. Franko direct HMS Parliament for TrypTych, Humperdink's Hansel and Gretel (TrypTych/CBSO) and Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Belcanto of York.
He is proud to have been a member of Canadian Actors' Equity Association for 25 years.