Magazine article Opera Canada

Edmonton

Magazine article Opera Canada

Edmonton

Article excerpt

Winnipeg-native Andriana Chuchman, a protege of coloratura Tracy Dahl, reinforced her growing reputation with a musically brilliant, comically delightful debut with Edmonton Opera Feb. 7 as Marie in Donizetti's La fille du regiment. The rest at" the cast and the Edmonton Opera chorus were solid, but Chuchman elevated this bathetic French farce into an evening of operatic giddiness. Besides precise technique and an effervescent stage presence, she even threw a few cartwheels in to complement her vocal acrobatics.

Toronto-based tenor Colin Ainsworth has distinguished himself in past EO productions, and his good looks and warm, chesty sound made him a decent choice for Tonio. Everything before and after those nine high Cs in "Ah, mes amis" was most pleasant. While he certainly didn't stumble through the challenge of pealing off the wad of money notes, it did look like hard work. He sang the piece from, behind a large French flag as the regiment transformed him from Tyrolean peasant to brother in arms, a clever bit of staging but perhaps a little constricting for the tenor.

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Baritone Theodore Baerg was an anchor of vocal and comic reliability as Sulpice, and the Marquise of Sonya Gosse and Hortensius of Chad Louverse were a hoot. Gosse gave the requisite overblown, vibrato-heavy treatment to her role, while Louverse, sporting a hairdo out of Grease,, milked stereotypical gay mannerisms in true hambone fashion. The gentlemen of the EO chorus were in full voice, and helped generate some of the farcical energy of the piece commendably.

The company used a 35-year-old set by stage designer Beni Montressor, who was also an accomplished illustrator of children's books. The flimsy canvas backdrops enhanced the fairy-tale aspect of the silly plot, while the ribbed, Gothic vaults atop Corinthian columns in the Marquises chateau added to the fantastical tone.

The Edmonton Symphony, conducted by Peter Dala, provided a good accompaniment throughout, and director Robert Herriot added some clever touches, such as using the overture to lay out the back story with short vignettes to show how Marie was raised by the regiment before we see her as a young woman in the opening act.

You could call Edmonton Operas presentation of Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles, seen Mar. 14, a stripped-down affair in more ways than one. …

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