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

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

Richard Strauss: Arabella

I had last seen Arabella as part of the Munich Opera Festival’s Richard Strauss Week in 2008. It is not, I am afraid, my favourite Strauss opera; in fact, it is probably my least favourite. However, I am always willing to be convinced.

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):