Magazine article Opera Canada

Ireland: Wexford

Magazine article Opera Canada

Ireland: Wexford

Article excerpt

Massenet was both appetizer and entree on the second night of Wexford Festival Opera's artistically triumphant 2013 season, a double bill of the 70-minute Therhe (1907) and the far briefer La Navarraise (1894). The enticing French fare was served a la quebecolse, courtesy of the director/designer team of Renaud Doucet and Andre Barbe and Franco-Canadian mezzo Nora Sourouzian, their double-duty leading lady. The shorter work proved the more nourishing: the terse and taut Navarraise moved with a dramatic and musical vigor that its younger companion lacks, for all its elegant beauties. Therese, too, suffered more from Doucet and Barbe's initially off-putting, literally arty umbrella concept, which placed it in a restoration room of the modern Louvre amid paintings of the libretto's French Revolutionary era, and La Navarraise "inside" Picas-so's Guernica. The artist's occasional silly strolls through cutouts of his famous masterwork proved less intrusive than the art restorers' plot-irrelevant busywork had been, and the noisy problems with projections and moving scenery seemed, after the intermission, to have been sorted out. Still, on their own terms, Barbe's designs were (predictably) handsome indeed, and Doucet's direction of the two operas' actual dramatis personae was (just as predictably) compelling whenever his own inventions weren't getting in their way. …

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