Assessment: Faust and La Cenerentola at Third Vancouver Opera Competition – Vancouver Solar


Robert Pomakov’s magnificent Méphistophélès.

Tim Matheson / PNG

From the proof of the 2 foremost productions, Gounod’s Faust and Rossini’s La Cenerentola, it will be simple to argue that that is the most effective Vancouver Opera Competition but. Each works are handsomely mounted, effectively forged and successfully sung.

On the large stage of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Faust nearly defines large opera, with a big forged and spectacular if austere units initially created by Olivier Landreville for L’opéra de Montréal. Faust’s once-commanding reputation has ebbed in latest a long time; certainly, it might be arduous for some listeners to type out its mishmash of light-weight licentiousness, love story, melodrama and sticky piety. Followers with lengthy recollections might recall VO’s final Faust in 2006, when director Nic Muni supplied a strikingly contemporary, postmodern perspective on the Victorian-era traditional. By comparability, François Racine’s neo-traditional route appears a bit perfunctory, even shallow.

Musically, nevertheless, all is effectively. Principals David Pomeroy, Robert Pomakov and Simone Osborne ship extremely particular person performances but are totally complementary, spectacular in vocal and theatrical nuances. Peter Barrett, within the subordinate position of Valentin, can be very positive certainly. The big refrain sings effectively; conductor Jonathan Darlington reminds us that Gounod’s orchestra “helps, enriches and colors” the rating “with out ever dominating it,” and that’s precisely what was delivered from the pit.

Opera conventions in mid-19th century Paris demanded prolonged scores with loads of showpieces for particular person singers and massive set items lavishly spaced all through 5 acts. I’m not satisfied that dividing Faust right into a longish first half and a shorter denouement works in addition to the unique multi-act pacing (with all that point between acts for socializing and a glass of bubbly), however Gounod’s reward for memorable melodies and a method with grand results shines via in nearly any configuration.

Don Magnifico, his dreadful daughters, and an ersatz prince.

Tim Matheson /


La Cenerentola, staged on the intimate Vancouver Playhouse, couldn’t be extra completely different. Right here, finally, is a manufacturing that totally validates VO’s new “go-small” observe of mounting pre-Romantic-era works in areas analogous to these utilized by the likes of Mozart and Rossini. The small scale of the Playhouse allows the singers to venture with out forcing; the purity of their supply emphasizes Rossini’s matchless means to create charming melody out of skinny air, and do it over and again and again. What an incomparable bag of methods he possesses, and what easy sophistication!

For Rossini’s tackle the Cinderella story, director Rachel Peake has created a significant, engaged staging, swiftly paced and filled with comedian verve and what appears authentically Italian buffoonery. Certainly, she has executed her job so effectively that it may be troublesome, when you are laughing so arduous, to keep in mind that these are killer vocal elements being sung exquisitely. Mezzo Simone McIntosh wins over the viewers with sheer vocal agility and a stunning wealthy sound. As her Prince Charming (Prince Don Ramiro on this telling) tenor Charles Sy is a delight. And if there’s a baritone anyplace who can ship the comedian position of Don Magnifico higher than Peter McGillivray, I’d like to listen to him.

This can be a younger forged, with members of the Yulanda M. Faris Younger Artists Program given supporting roles. As Tisbe and Clorinda, Gena van Oosten and Nicole Joanne Brooks are imply sisters straight out of No matter Occurred to Child Jane, and their hideous tutti-frutti outfits by designer Sue Bonde are precisely proper.

Competition 2019 affords a smorgasbord of add-on occasions, many free, over the following few days. However there are solely eight extra possibilities to listen to La Cenerentola within the Playhouse, Could 1-12, and simply two extra Fausts on the QET, Could 2 and 5.

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