Monday, April 26, 2010

Twice a Year Day - Opera Atelier's Le Nozze di Figaro

OK they did it again - maybe I won't say this was the best of their operas I have ever seen but this Marriage of Figaro was an utter pleasure, and it made three hours feel like twenty minutes - I did not want it to end.
The director's idea to slant this one to Commedia del' Arte struck me, as I read the program, a tad surprising, but once things go going it seemed dead right. As usual for this company the opera was singing and dancing and dancing in the form of gestures, and these were fabulous.
Also as usual, the casting was superb. Carla Huhtanen, whom I have loved in roles here (she is the most wonderful Papagena I have ever seen) and in Toronto Operetta Theatre, finally got an utter leading role as Susanna with this company and carried it beautifully. Figaro is ultimately the story of Susanna and the Countess and Peggy Kriha Dye was a superb Countess, grounding the whole performance beautifully with Huhtanen. Her second Dove Sono was heartbreaking (well, so was the first but just a little less so).
Opera Atelier is also wonderful at finding new casting, and Phillip Addis was superb as the Count, acting brilliantly (a necessary condition for this company), singing excellently, and being hunky, according to my informants (also important).
Another find was the newbie Wallis Giunta as Cherubino who stole almost every scene she was in - I hope they can find excuses to cast her again! It is lovely how well this company finds new talent.
Some secondary roles, behind the Commedia del' Arte masks, escaped me but were fine - Curtis Sullivan, who usually plays a more prominent role, was almost invisible as Dr. Bartolo but effective, and Laura Pudwell's Marcellina was all that was needed.
At first I was troubled by Olivier Laquerre's Figaro - he seemed to be made up as if he were a simpleton, and performed as such. But as the opera moved along I realized, as I may not have before, that Figaro is indeed such; every scheme he puts in motion is an utter failure. It is Susanna and Rosina who finally drive the opera to its resolution despite all the men and their foolishness.
This performance was one of the few not featuring skin-tight costumes on the dancers, and I am sure some were disappointed, but I loved the Spanish costumes.
I just sent my subscription ticket orders in for next year (a Handel and a Mozart), the one remaining such indulgence I have refused to give up in retirement with no income.
If you can go see this go see it.
As another piece of the twice a year ritual, SillyWife and I toured the Eaton Centre. Judging from the shop windows, I can only say that we heterosexual males should have a very enjoyable summer! SillyWife told me some Fashion TV figure had said trends in fashion were gone, but those shop windows said something else and I love the current trend!


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