Edmonton Opera

By Rankin, Bill | Opera Canada, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Edmonton Opera


Rankin, Bill, Opera Canada


Edmonton Opera opened its 47th season on Oct. 23 with Puccini's La boheme in pretty much the same production as the opera's last outing here just over. Eric Fennell's Rodolfo this time didn't have as much projective power to fill the Jubilee Auditorium's less-than-perfect acoustic as Marc Hervieux's more dramatic tenor did, and Laura Whelan's Mimi lacked some of Sally Dibblee's capacity for verismo melodrama. But both singers in this production gave convincing, engaging performances, stronger in the tender moments in Act I than in the later scenes of anguish.

Baritone Etienne Dupuis's Marcello didn't have the kind of temperament that helps light the fires of jealously in his relationship with Musetta. Miriam Khalil's Musetta was less of a femme fatale than I've seen in other portrayals, but she stole the Cafe Momus act. Director Brian Deedrick created a lively, theatrical Act II. The stage business he gave the chorus enlivened the stage, but without an excessive Marcello, Musetta's flirtatious provocations lacked the heat of romantic friction. The frenetic energy of children always gives Act II an effervescent quality, and the Cantilon Children's Choir certainly provided that energy. But it's a young group, and its vocal contribution would have benefited from a few moments of choral cohesion to showcase the musical energy better.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The four bohemian friends, well cast for their youth, sang well, if not remarkably. However, even in the opening scene in the garret and in the early part of Act IV, before Mimi's death becomes central, their horseplay missed some boyish abandon. Baritone John-Paul Decosse sang securely, though he might have milked his overcoat elegy for more melancholic effect. Baritone Benjamin Covey sang Schaunard steadily.

The emotional core of the opera was revealed movingly in Act III, where the staging's stand-and-deliver approach allowed the principles to sing without reserve. No Boheme succeeds without a good death scene, and here the cast saw Mimi off with all the right feelings of helplessness and denial. Conductor Steven Osgood led the Edmonton Symphony with excellent dynamic control and sensitivity.

Tenor Isaiah Bell began his association with Edmonton's Opera NUOVA as a singer. …

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