Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Article excerpt

Vancouver's Opera Appassionata presented the Canadian premiere of Handel's Amadigi in the Sunset Nursery Green house in May. Artistic Director Frank Klassen likes to use site-specific theatres that relate to an opera's plot and have good acoustics. Here he used a nursery of the Vancouver Park Board, which also wants to bring art and culture to people in unique spaces.

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Amadigi, written in England in 1715, is one of the lesser known of Handel's 46 operas, but contains such lyric beauty in many arias that it deserves greater exposure. The complicated plot gives Handel every opportunity to create the conventional arias expected in the Baroque period--long on expressing many emotions but short on character development.

Lyric mezzo Fabiana Katz brought technical astuteness, commitment and passion to the title role of the confounded swain. Oriana, the object of his desire, was exquisitely sung by coloratura soprano Szu-Wen Wang, who showed taste, restraint and good vocal control. Her "O caro mio tesor" was wrenching.

Lyric soprano Lucy Hyeon Kyung Choi's Melissa, the villain of the piece, was a character of many passions. Choi's mature soprano traversed the emotions required of the part and provided a central focus for the other characters. She brought her "Furies" with her, and these proved invaluable to the production for set changes and crowd scenes.

In the plot, Dardano, sung by mezzo Megan Morrison, complicates the situation by also being in love with Oriana, and makes a fatal mistake in trying to resolve the impasse by duelling Amadigi. Eventually, the ghost of Dardano strips Melissa of her powers, the lovers are reunited and join the Furies to sing a rejoicing final chorus. Oriana's uncle, Orgando, sensitively sung by lyric tenor Christopher Simmons, bookends the opera by first introducing then resolving the plot confusions.

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Edette Gagne conducted the chamber orchestra, overcoming the difficulties of placing the musicians behind the stage area and behind a row of plants, Riad Klassen provided fluid, effective direction.

Vancouver Academy of Music Opera Studio presented a fast-paced satire of Victorian life and morals in its May production of Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring. Working for the first time in the intimate, south-side Metro Theatre, Artistic Director David Meek took full advantage of the traditional house's optimal stage dimensions, pit space, professional lighting equipment and good acoustics. Music Director Frank Klassen created a delicious 19th-century mood with a pit orchestra that was supportive of the singers and tidily anchored by repetiteur Greg Caisley.

Mezzo Christina Gilbert as Florence, Lady Billows' maid and confidante, neatly set the pace of subtle send-up, which was continued by the Lady herself, strongly portrayed by the assured dramatic soprano, Heidi Lynn Peters. With the arrival of the May Queen Committee begins the discussion of the selection of the next candidate. The discovery that no one can satisfy the high moral standards expected leads into Lady Billow's aria describing the village as a "spawning-ground of horror," there being no virgins left in Loxworth. The committee, also including soprano Katheryn Garden's artfully sung Miss Wordsworth, baritone Douglas Miller's self-righteous Vicar and tenor Martin Sadd's pompous Mayor, is relieved when Superintendent Budd (bass Lee Plested) suggests that a May King be chosen in the person of Albert Herring, the rather backward grocer's boy. …

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