Magazine article Opera Canada

Seattle Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Seattle Opera

Article excerpt

Because of the indisposition of Serena Farnocchia, Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury stepped into the title role of Seattle Opera's Maria Stuarda on opening night (Feb. 27), following it with her slated alternate-cast appearance in the role at the following afternoon's matinee.

El-Khoury scored a major triumph on opening night, combining exquisite delicacy of sound with affecting vulnerability--yet singing with a steely resolve when the situation required, especially when pitted against Mary Elizabeth Williams's thoroughly memorable Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, I couldn't remain in Seattle to see how El-Khoury fared in the same stratospherically demanding role less than 15 hours later.

Williams commanded the stage on opening night. Regal and ruthless as Elizabeth I, she used her formidable soprano deftly throughout its impressive pitch and dynamic range. She also established the immense power of the character she portrayed through a toss of the head, a withering look or even a simple dismissive wave of the hand.

Eventually, the two queens faced off, circling each other warily, like regal jungle felines until the feisty Mary sealed her own fate by spitting the words "bastard whore" at Elizabeth. Such unflinching dialogue ramped up the drama considerably--kudos to SO's Jonathan Dean for going with what worked in the surtitles.

Kevin Newbury's stage direction moved the characters with canny dramatic assurance around Neil Patel's sets. …

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