University of British Columbia School of Music/Opera Division
Clark, Hilary, Opera Canada
In March, the University of British Columbia School of Music/Opera Division brought Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin to vibrant life. Under the direction of Opera School director Nancy Hermiston, the story, sung in Russian, became immediate, and its complexities universal. The open stage of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts was simply decorated by designer Bryan Pollock with three large, rhomboid-shaped banners, two depicting couples on either side and one, the central banner, showing an older woman. The costumed chorus moved the furniture between acts. Lighting design by Jeremy Baxter had lights played on the banners to echo the emotions of the action.
The musical direction by Richard Epp produced singers who sang with commitment and vitality, and the ensemble work was well balanced. But the surprise of the evening was a singing chorus that had also learned the difficult choreography of historic-dance teacher Catherine Lee. The peasant dances were spirited, suiting the vigorous tempi of the UBC Symphony Orchestra, sensitively conducted by Norbert Baxa. …