Magazine article Opera Canada

Victoria: Daphne

Magazine article Opera Canada

Victoria: Daphne

Article excerpt

Richard Strauss's Daphne, first performed in Dresden in 1938, took nearly 70 years to reach Canada, finally receiving its Canadian premiere in a handsome production by the ever-plucky Pacific Opera Victoria.

An enormous tree ornately festooned with long, willowy branches was the centerpiece of Leslie Frankish's single set. This simple set-up was infinitely adaptable, with shifting colors, moods and textures under Gerald King's fluid lighting. The visual poetry of it all jibed well with Wim Trompert's lyrical, dreamy stage direction.

Soprano Sookhyung Park's petite, lissome stature and graceful demeanor were perfect for Daphne's delicacy and vulnerability. But it was her supremely lyrical voice, sailing effortlessly above the swirling orchestral counterpoint for a huge portion of the one-act opera's 90 minutes, that reaped the bravi at curtain on Feb. 22.

Kurt Lehmann's ardently appealing tenor lent added poignancy to the role of Daphne's childhood friend and would-be lover, Leukippos. Tenor Anthony Pulgram, in macho black leather, was the strutting, pushy Apollo, who also fancies Daphne. Neither wins her: in a fit of pique, Apollo kills Leukippos, ostensibly redeeming himself by prevailing upon Zeus to turn Daphne into a laurel tree. …

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