Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Aida, Opera Holland Park

With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.

Death in Venice, Garsington Opera

Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.

La Rondine Swoops Into St. Louis

If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Emmeline a Stunner in Saint Louis

Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Luminous Handel in Saint Louis

For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”

Two Women in San Francisco

Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?

Les Troyens in San Francisco

Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.

Dog Days at REDCAT

On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.

Opera Las Vegas Presents Exquisite Madama Butterfly

Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.

Yardbird, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.

Giovanni Paisiello: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.

Princeton Festival: Le Nozze di Figaro

The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail,
Glyndebourne

Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s first great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.

German Lieder Is Given a Dramatic Twist by The Ensemble for the Romantic Century

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.

Hans Werner Henze: Ein Landarzt and Phaedra

This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Dido and Aeneas, Spitalfields Festival

High brick walls, a cavernous space, entered via a narrow passage just off a London thoroughfare: Village Underground in Shoreditch is probably not that far removed from the venue in which Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was first performed — whether that was Josiah Priest’s girl’s school in Chelsea or the court of Charles II or James II.

Intermezzo, Garsington Opera

Hats off to Garsington for championing once again some criminally neglected Strauss. I overheard someone there opine, ‘Of course, you can understand why it isn’t done very often.’

Cosi fan tutte, Garsington Opera

Mozart and Da Ponte’s Cosi fan tutte provides little in the way of background or back story for the plot, thus allowing directors to set the piece in a variety settings.

The Queen of Spades, ENO

Based on a play, Chrysomania (The Passion for Money), by the Russian playwright Prince Alexander Shokhovskoy, Pushkin’s short story The Queen of Spades is, in the words of one literary critic, ‘a sardonic commentary on the human condition’.

Il trittico, Opera Holland Park

Time was when many felt compelled to ‘make allowances’ for ‘smaller’ companies. Now, more often than not, the contrary seems to be the case, instead apologising for their elder and/or larger siblings: ‘But of course, it is far more difficult for House X, given the conservatism of its moneyed audience,’ as if House X might not actually attract a different, more intellectually curious audience by programming more interesting works.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Gaetano Donizetti
01 May 2012

Daughter of the Regiment, Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera laid aside all stereotypes about opera being stuffy and inaccessible with its feel-good production of Donizetti’s 1840 comic opera Daughter of the Regiment.

Gaetano Donizetti: The Daughter of the Regiment

Click here for cast and other production information.

Above: Gaetano Donizetti

 

In a show that had audience members shrieking with laughter and giving prolonged standing ovations, the all Canadian cast made us proudly patriotic. Director Ann Hodges showed a singular touch for comedy in this impressive mounting.

Front and centre was rising star soprano and Winnipeg native Nikki Einfeld as Marie, the title character. Each time we hear Einfeld her instrument seems to have become more refined. Trim and petite in her becoming military outfit, she was enchanting as the rough and tumble young woman raised by 23 “fathers” — soldiers of the 21st Regiment of the Grenadiers. In contrast to her tomboyish demeanour, her voice was pure feminine lightness, possessing a subtle buoyancy that while not overpowering, had underlying strength and confidence. This was ideally suited to the spunky Marie, as she arm-wrestled baritone Theodore Baerg, playing Sergeant Sulpice. Her scene in the castle, in which she struggles to figure out how to put on a fashionable hat, was a scream.

The story takes place in the early 1800s, in the Swiss Tyrolean Mountains. Set designer Beni Montressor (set and props provided by Edmonton Opera) has put together an interestingly rustic and colourful presentation that looks hand-drawn. Creative lighting by Bill Williams brought the best out of this quite simple set.

While the work is sung in French with English surtitles, the English dialogue enabled the audience to get more involved. Canadian actress Fiona Reid, best known for her role as Al Waxman’s ever-patient wife on King of Kensington was a late replacement for ailing comedienne Mary Walsh. Reid, as the Duchess of Krackenthorp, had us in stitches in what amounted to a stand-up routine full of hysterical cracks about Winnipeg and Canadian politicians. From our rapid transit system to Mayor Katz to the controversial water park project and new Ikea, Reid poked fun at our city to the crowd’s delight.

The entire ensemble was strong, with tenor John Tessier a most romantic Tonio, Marie’s love interest. Tessier has a lovely, limpid voice that carries extremely well. With its warm timbre, he seems to float to the highest notes, as in the famous aria “A mes amis,” in which he reeled off a whopping nine high Cs, completely free of strain. Best of all was the chemistry between the two lovers. Marie, desolate at having to leave the regiment to live with her new-found aunt, the Marquise of Berkenfeld, exhibited abundant control in her silkily crafted phrases, soaked in sadness. In “Qui! Vous m’aimez?,” Tonio expressed his love for Marie so sweetly, it was all she could do to resist. The passion was palpable.

Mezzo soprano Rebecca Hass was delightfully haughty as the Marquise, showing great comic style. Fancying herself an attractive target for the French soldiers, she preened and criticized in “Pour une femme de mon nom” in clear and true voice. David Playfair played her nattily dressed butler, Hortensius with superb physical humour and panache.

Baerg’s fatherly Sulpice was one of the strongest showings of the evening. In colourful uniform, (wardrobe by Malabar Ltd. Toronto) he cut a dashing figure with his silvery hair. And then there was his voice — a voice that warms the cockles of your heart with its richness and commitment. Baerg threw himself whole-heartedly into the role of Marie’s protector.

The Manitoba Opera Chorus was kept busy: practically every scene demanded their presence. They were wonderful — dressed to the nines, with convincing acting and full-bodied singing. As Marie’s many fathers, the soldiers’ doting was especially appealing.

As always, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra helped make this production special. From the opening plaintive horn call to the final triumphant note of “Salut à la France,” conductor Tadeusz Biernacki milked every melody to its fullest. Special mention must be offered for the touching cello line in Marie’s aria, “C’en est donc fait” that set the scene so beautifully.

Gwenda Nemerofsky

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):