Dillon, Patrick, Opera Canada
John Mac Master in the title Pole of the Michigan Opera Theater production with Dennis Strach (John, the apprentice)
Michigan Opera Theater's final production of the season, Britten's Peter Grimes, opened with a silly directorial miscalculation. Minutes before the starting time, with the audience still taking their seats, the curtain rose on a full stage: the citizens of the Borough were gathered for an inquest. After much awkward posturing and artificial chatter on stage, the house lights dimmed and an amplified voice reminded these early 19th-century fisherfolk (along with the rest of us) to turn off all cellular phones and pagers. The orchestra tuned, the conductor entered the pit and only then, with the hammering of Mr. Swallow's gavel, did the performance, anticlimactically, begin.
This was MOT's first-ever mounting of Britten's opera, and the company eventually rose to meet its challenges. The chorus--augmented by members of the Rackham Symphony Choir--began tentatively, but eventually reached full and thrilling power in Act III. John Mauceri conducted masterfully, Carl Toms' sets, borrowed from Chicago, were efficiently atmospheric and Bernard Uzan's direction, while unconvincing in many details, was largely competent. …