Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver

Article excerpt

The premise behind The Lost Operas of Mozart, City Opera Vancouver's latest venture, is that the characters in Mozarts three unfinished (though far from lost) operas have been languishing in Limbo for the 200-plus years since he stopped composing them. And those characters want to get out. Working from a clever framing concept by stage director Alan Corbishly, playwright Maria Reva fashioned a script that ingeniously provided a connecting thread between the skeletal remains of Lo sposo deluso and L'oca del Cairo (Act I of Lost Operas) and the more fully fleshed Zaide (Act II).

In this conception, the opera characters emerged from Limbo to convince the jaded 21st-century Impresario--a spoken role delivered with aplomb and superb comic timing by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Music Director Bramwell Tovey--to stage the operas so they could have actual theatrical life. They launched ardently into their roles in Lo sposo and L'oca, but the Impresario was not impressed, alternately rolling his eyes, flipping through his cell phone contacts and mocking the characters behind their backs. Reva's script milked the huge comedic potential from the contrast between the Impresario's contemporary persona and the mannered behaviour of the late 18th-century European personalities. Ines Ortner's costume design amplified this contrast with pallid corsets and dream-like 18th-century attire for the opera characters and functional, contemporary dress for the Impresario.

For Act II (Zaide), the troupe enticed the Impresario back to Limbo with them, where, despite its utterly implausible plot, justice, mercy and wisdom prevailed. The Impresario agreed to stage the operas, whereupon Tovey emerged from his Impresario role to conduct the entire audience in fervent applause: after more than two centuries in Limbo, the theatrical lives of these characters were fulfilled at last.

I caught the Oct. 29 performance of this brightly original and well-executed production. First Soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen demonstrated a fleet and supple voice; Second Soprano Elaina Moreau evinced a lighter, more coquettish personality; and Third Soprano Rose-Ellen Nichols showed a forceful and dramatic stage presence. Tenor Frederik Robert was highly flexible as a singing actor; baritone Samuel Chan, if somewhat more limited in expressive range, was certainly no less assured in technique; and Alan MacDonald's sturdy baritone was as rock solid as they come. Bass-baritone Michael MacKinnon was in resplendent vocal fettle, a voice and stage presence to watch for. They were ably accompanied by an agile 14-member ensemble under the deft and expressive baton of COV Music Director and Conductor Charles Barber. …

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