This year wasn’t much of a celebration on my part in terms of pumpkin/costume day although as I already posted, the actual day of had me dressed up as Office Panda at work. There was bamboo wallpaper in my cubicle and all that jazz. However, that was pretty much as festive as I got. I was contemplating handing out candy to cute little kidlets in my hood on the 31st but following a last minute decision to reschedule my ticket for the opera (to which I was supposed to go the previous Sunday), I spent All Hallow’s Eve in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts watching and listening to Verdi’s Il Trovatore (The Troubadour).
This opera was somewhat fitting to the season as it involved an alleged gypsy curse, but the overall arching story was much like the majority of all operas, a tragic tail of love. And not just love, but Love. Capital L. The stuff that makes the characters delirious, makes them willing to give up their own life for the sake of their beloved, the stuff that makes one compare mere mortals to the most heavenly and perfect of beings. And also the stuff that leads to crazy jealousy, vengeance, and hateful acts. Il Trovatore certainly has it all.
This production in terms of the orchestra and the singing was absolutely fab-u-lous! I have been to my share of operas but I don’t feel like I am really qualified to discuss the minutia of the musical and vocal aspects of the production, however I can say that overall I was blown away. These folks have some pipes and the orchestra was phenomenal. Judging by the standing ovation the cast and musicians received at the end, I think it is safe to say I am not the only one who felt this way.
One let down was the set design. It honestly looked like they ran out of money and had to string something together at the last minute. It was super drab, minimalist, and at times looked like some sort of left-over material from Soviet pre-fab housing. Considering the COC is constantly trying to appeal to a younger and novice audience, this was really a disappointing exhibition. Despite the aesthetic miss, it was a fabulous production and one that I am happy I got to see on its closing night. As a side note, there is something really special about being in the audience on the last night of any sort of production. One gets the impression that there is a very palpable energy on stage between the cast members, a combination of fatigue and nostalgia perhaps. Relief but also an intentional “give it your all” attitude. It certainly seemed that way to me on Wednesday night.
Next up La Clemenza di Tito on the 11th of February. It is a long ways away but luckily I get two operas that month with Tristan and Isolde on the 20th (speaking of tragic love stories…)
I was absolutely smitten with the character of Manrico. And it was not until writing this post that I realized that Riccardo Massi who performed this part when I attended, actually only did so one other night of the production’s full run. The rest of the nights this character was played by Ramón Vargas. I wonder what my impression would have been of the opera if I had seen the other singer in that role, especially considering that Massi pretty much made the show for me. Well him and Russell Braun in the role of Conte di Luna, of course.