Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Vancouver Opera

Article excerpt

It has been nearly twenty years since L'elisir d'amore graced the Vancouver Opera stage, so the return of Donizetti's ever-popular 1832 Tristan-und-Isolde-meets-Much-Ado-About-Nothing confection in this colourfully kinetic staging was eagerly anticipated.

This production--originally by James Robinson but directed here by Brenna Corner--sets Elisir in Anytown, Canada in the decade before WWI. Adina is now the village librarian and Nemorino owns an ice cream truck. This eradicates the vast difference in their social standing--upon which much of the comedy of the original hangs--but at least the onstage visuals had a fresh look. On opening afternoon (2 p.m., Jan. 21st), the action percolated merrily away as I'm sure it was intended.

In his VO debut, the plaintive edge to Andrew Haji's versatile and flexible tenor made it ideal for all the the moping Nemorino must endure in his quest to win the aloof Adina's heart. Although relatively new to the role (this is only his fourth Nemorino), he inhabits it comfortably and tosses off its considerable technical challenges with apparent ease. Clearly, Nemorino is to be a key role in Haji's operatic future.

Adina was sung by Chinese soprano Ying Fang in her role and company debut. Her voice is silvery, light, sweet and agile and a natural stage presence and persona make her an ideal Adina. As with Haji as Nemorino, I see many Adinas in Fang's career.

Belcore, now a British WWI army sergeant, was sung with great aplomb by baritone Brett Polegato. As Belcore should be, Polegato played him as completely smitten with his own allure to women--or at least as much appeal as a workaday British sergeant on a recruiting mission in Smalltown, Canada is likely to have. He added nuance to what can be a caricature of a role, though, and displayed effordess vocal agility when the music required it.

Bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus as the lovable old shyster, Dr. …

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