Magazine article Opera Canada

Belgium: Brussels

Magazine article Opera Canada

Belgium: Brussels

Article excerpt

Canada's internationally known director Robert Carsen has long impressed Belgian audiences with stagings at the Vlaamse Opera (Antwerp and Ghent), though some of his visions for Puccini operas remain controversial. His production of Mozart's youthful Mitridate, re di Ponto for Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels (Oct. 21) was masterly, despite hazards for the director and the incoming Intendant, Peter de Caluwe, who is obviously willing to take risks with repertoire.

Mitridate is hardly the stuff to easily overwhelm the public. Such an endless series of florid arias challenges any director, yet every aspect of this production crackled with life. Carsen situated the Roman-Grecian War of 90 BC in the present; war-weary soldiers with modern uniforms and weapons struggle over rocks and ruins. Parallels with Iraq are obvious, but the updating is never intrusive. The constant threat of danger never bogs down in longueurs, and the death of the king is staged with memorable simplicity. The design (Radu Boruzescu) remained grim, the lighting (Peter van Praet and Carsen) oppressive, but atmospheric. Farnace, the bad son of King Mitridate, is eventually horrified by war, and at the end, all the personal frictions are resolved. …

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