Magazine article Opera Canada

Festival De Lanaudiere

Magazine article Opera Canada

Festival De Lanaudiere

Article excerpt

There was more than the usual air of expectation at this year's Festival de Lanaudiere; on Aug. 6, home-province boy Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducted his first Parsifal--a kind of trial run for his performances in early 2018 at Metropolitan Opera, where he is Music Director designate. There, he will lead the first revival of fellow Quebecois Francois Girard's staging, which is slated to appear at the Canadian Opera Company in a future season. In this concert version, the hometown connection was heightened as Nezet-Seguin led his beloved Orchestre Metropolitain. The unusually close relationship between leader and musicians allowed for an immediate response to any demand for extra intensity, or flexibility with his measured, yet always forward-moving tempi. The overall sound was beautiful if a bit dry--leading to question whether the much-vaunted 'natural' acoustic of this outdoor amphitheatre might be subject to subtle electronic enhancement.

Among an international cast of seasoned Wagnerians, the one exception was Canadian baritone Brett Polegato singing Amfortas for the first time. He needn't have feared any comparison, giving a deeply-felt, vocally resplendent portrayal. Amfortas' pained laments are among the most moving in the entire repertoire, but Polegato took them to a new level of universal significance, far beyond their original context in Christian lore. He declaimed the text incisively with rich, bright tone, all of which bodes well for his continuing emergence as an interpreter of Wagner's more lyrical baritone roles. …

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