Magazine article Opera Canada

Madrid

Magazine article Opera Canada

Madrid

Article excerpt

Expectation in Spain and throughout Europe was palpable when the curtain rose at the Teatro Real for the world premiere production of Merlin. Composer Isaac Albeniz, who is universally known for his piano works, finished the opera, the first of a never-completed trilogy based on the mythical King Arthur, in 1898. His benefactor, Francis Burdett Money-Coutts, wrote the libretto in English, and Wagner is present musically and dramatically. In fact, this is a difficult opera to categorize. With allusions to Debussy and Dukas, the orchestral score for 90 musicians is often symphonic. There are grandiose choruses, stylistic changes, a ballet and demanding vocal requirements. Director John Dew stressed beauty in the production. His goal was a modern aesthetic where light, color and costumes transposed the audience to an imaginary medieval period.

The merit of Merlin undeniably lies in Act II with the lengthy duo of soprano leads Nivian and Morgan Le Fay accompanied by haunting woodwinds. Canadian Kathleen Broderick (Nivian) was wonderful. She is a singer with Wagnerian experience, which is a must for this role. …

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