Magazine article Opera Canada

Opera Ontario

Magazine article Opera Canada

Opera Ontario

Article excerpt

Opera Ontario's premiere of Mozart's first big hit, Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, seemed to be getting into trouble before it began, when two Konstanzas dropped out before soprano Cheryl Evans was found, a mere five days before the first performance. And she had never sung the role before. Her "brilliant top extension" that all the critics raved about had kept her orbiting endlessly around North America as the Queen of the Night. Happily, she fashioned an exquisite Konstanza. She had already melted every heart in the house, pouring out her soul in opulent lament, before coming to her show-stopping aria, "Martern alle Arten," which duly stopped the show.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

We had less luck with Benjamin Butterfield's Belmonte. After starting very well, an announcement at the only intermission (which severed Act II in half) told us he was indisposed but willing to soldier on. He did so in a fragile sotto voce. Alas, anxiety is the nemesis of comedy, and with this misfortune, the whole production shrank back from gaiety. Most rewarding was the way in which artistic director and conductor Daniel Lipton swept the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony away from not only Butterfield, but also other voices trying to balance with his in Mozart's wonderful ensembles. It fact, one of the treats of this production was hearing Lipton, so closely associated with the music of Verdi, bring his subtle sensitivities to Mozart's music.

An opera that makes huge fun of a noble Spanish lady and her servants being carried off by pirates and sold as slaves to a Pasha in Turkey isn't going to be a night of deep ponderings. But this version almost seemed a Mozartean HMS Pinafore. The English dialogue that accompanied the German singing was rewritten much as G & S would be today, with the servant girl, Blonde, flouncing by the sadistic overseer, Osmin, who lusts after her, and saying, "Oh, he's so high maintenance," and so on. Much music was also severed from the body of the work to bring it in at two and a half hours.

But there was much to enjoy. Sookhyung Park (Blonde) and Pascal Charbonneau (Pedrillo) made excellent Mozartean servants--perky, smart and preventing catastrophe from overtaking the upper classes. Bass Alexander Savtchenko stole the show as a magnificently base Osmin, and Sandy Winsby made a very gentle and winning Pasha. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.