Created originally for NBC, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief delighted an appreciative audience in the intimate sanctuary of West Vancouver United Church Nov. 19th. This was the second sally into opera by MAGI, founded by mezzo Andi Alexander initially as an a cappella trio.
Alexander sang the role of Miss Todd with style and verve, setting herself up for disaster from the outset. Laetitia, her maid, rapturously sung by soprano Janel Snider, lets her fear of becoming an old maid like her mistress influence the ingenuous Bob (the thief) into escaping with her rather than be falsely accused of crimes committed by Miss Todd to capture him as her lover. Alexander and Snider worked beautifully together, finding a unanimity in vocal resonance and color.
Heidi Muendel sang Miss Pinkerton, Miss Todd's gossipy friend, the dramatic soprano readily using her vibrant voice to create an unpleasant but instantly recognizable small-town character.
Paul Alexander brought a robust, well-articulated baritone to the role of Bob, exuding simplicity, gratefulness and eventually boredom. He expressed the honor of a "bum" who "when the air sings of summer ... must wander again." Ready to go, he is aghast at what the women have done to keep him. When Laetitia explains that he will be judged by the townspeople, he exclaims "the devil couldn't do what a woman can, to make a thief of an honest man," and goes off with her and all her mistress's possessions. Michael Onwood, who has an excellent reputation for his work with vocalists, provided the sensitive accompaniment for this fine production.
The huge front and back covers of a book stood on the stage of University of British Columbia's Chan Centre in December, the opening set for UBC Opera Studio's Hansel and Gretel. As Leslie Dala conducted the overture, Wood Spirits swept on to open the pages to show a cottage interior, and to set out the few items of furniture owned by the poor family. …