Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Article excerpt

Vancouver Opera's March staging of Beethoven's Fidelio set the piece in 1987 East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Given that Fidelio concerns freedom in the face of tyranny, this made sense. A new bit of business at the outset showed how Florestan had ended up in prison. A photo-journalist, he is dragged off and imprisoned by the Stasi for allegedly taking photos of things he shouldn't. Leonore rushes in, only to find his camera lying on the pavement.

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Act I took place in a utilitarian office within the prison. Back projections showed images of the soon-to-crumble Wall and, supposedly, the Dictatorship. Thrown in amongst these were stills of Leonore and Floristan in happier times--Richard Margison and Carol Wilson strolling through Stanley Park, that sort of thing--which were interesting to see but at the same time rather corny. Dejan Miladinvoic's direction made sense to this point, but things started to fall apart in Act II. The incessant tapping of a typewriter essentially ruined the opening of one of opera's greatest scenes. Richard Margison must have wanted to pick up the typewriter, along with the actor, and chuck them both into the orchestra pit. He was at least allowed his isolation for his solo, which he sang with customary strength and great feeling (he came close to tears by the end). His duets with Carol Wilson's Leonore also let out the repressed emotions in his voice. But in the final scene, Margison was let down completely by the production when he was wheeled out on a gurney (complete with intravenous drip), cheered on by a jubilant crowd and freed prisoners all doing the Twist to the strains of Beethoven. …

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