Magazine article Opera Canada

English National Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

English National Opera

Article excerpt

With Twilight of the Gods, English National Opera reached the end of the Ring cycle, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and designed by Richard Hudson. The heroine of this epic undertaking was, of course, Canadian Kathleen Broderick's superb Brunnhilde. This installment began in the cozy breakfast room of the mountain chalet where Brunnhilde and Siegfried spend their wedding night. She waves goodbye next morning as he starts on his journey down the Rhine (graphi-cally illustrated on film) and waits for his return that evening like any suburban housewife. In the second and third acts, Brunnhilde takes on heroic status, eventually becoming a suicide bomber, strapped in a jacket packed with explosives that she detonates, thus bringing down Valhalla and the gods.

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Broderick was in excellent voice throughout. Particularly effective in the confrontation with Siegfried before the planned double wedding, she found sufficient energy to end her performance with a magnificent Immolation Scene, when, surrounded by her Valkyrie sisters, she prepared for death. The rest of the cast was also very good, with Richard Berkeley-Steele an utterly convincing Siegfried, Gidon Saks a black-voiced, black-hearted Hagen and Sara Fulgoni a fine Waltraute. Norns and Rhine Maidens were strongly sung (with Canadian Stephanie Marshall as Wellgunde), while the augmented male chorus sang in overwhelming style. The orchestra responded with tremendous enthusiasm to Paul Daniel's conducting.

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ENO's production of Eugene Onegin, directed by Julia Hollander, designed by Fotini Dimou and Tahra Kharibian, is 11 years old, but remains in excellent condition. It provided a fine framework for Gerald Finley's eagerly awaited first One-gin. The Canadian baritone was even better than one had expected. His mastery of the role, both musically and dramatically, is already complete. The utter boredom of a sophisticated townee forced to live in the country was perfectly conveyed, while the cruelty of his lecture to Tatyana after receiving her letter stabbed to the quick. In contrast, his subsequent guilt and regret at having killed his friend, Lensky, was quite overwhelming, and the realization of his love for Tatyana and her rejection of it made him grovel on the floor--though he still sang his final phrase as beautifully as all the previous ones. …

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