Magazine article Opera Canada

Filumena: Gaetan Laperriere (Emilio Picariello) and Laura Whalen in the Title Role of the Calgary Opera World Premiere. (Calgary)

Magazine article Opera Canada

Filumena: Gaetan Laperriere (Emilio Picariello) and Laura Whalen in the Title Role of the Calgary Opera World Premiere. (Calgary)

Article excerpt

Filumena, by John Estacio and John Murrell, opened at Calgary Opera to a highly positive reception. An Albertan story brought to operatic life by two Albertans, the new work captured the imagination and played to full houses.

The plot is based on an Albertan story from Prohibition years, when a young immigrant Italian woman was hanged for the murder of an RCMP officer. Based on fact, Murrell's excellent libretto is primarily concerned with character and tragedy. The story is, ultimately, an account of the emotional journey of an immigrant girl caught in a web of circumstances that threatens to crush her. Her efforts to achieve psychological and personal freedom and genuine love take on a tragic dimension, especially in light of her final betrayal by the man who should most have stood by her. Her closing scene has those qualities of catharsis present only in major works for the theatre.

The surrounding characters, notably crime boss Emilio Picariello, his son, Steven, and Filumena's husband, Charlie, provide a wide range of male interaction with Filumena, ranging from elemental brutality to manipulative consideration and, finally, to love (albeit terribly flawed by betrayal). The women, too, provide a highly convincing set of female relationships that blend sympathy with clear-eyed female domestic realism.

Estacio's score is both eclectic and neo-Romantic. The Italian and Scottish elements are evoked through snatches of Italian-style tunes and Scottish hymns. …

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