While The Elixir of Love is a comedic masterpiece, Donizetti's music ranges from brilliant and bubbly to languid and lush. The orchestra, led by David Agler, showcased this mercurial ambiance with clarity and nuance.
The schtick tightened up during the second half and the story leavened. The actors seemed to relax into their characters' inner lives once their outer circumstances had a discernible logic. Liberated from conceptual mumbo jumbo, the score and libretto timed better with the on-stage action. Finally, things made sense.
Their voices pulled and pushed at Gluck’s music and Calzabigi's text, stretching and pulling and coloring every last note that made practically their entire run through the opera feel important.
Though still young, Higgins is a seasoned composer; and though there are learning curves to writing for the voice, he wisely keeps his eyes on the final product: an opera for families.
"You know, thank goodness that we're beginning to deal more and more with questions and issues of diversity. But Young Artist Programs can't deal with the diversity questions if there isn't a pipeline beforehand."
Every bit of this production was beautifully and intricately crafted; from the dazzling, elaborate costumes, to the evocative colour palette, it was a fully immersive experience that was moving in the most unexpected ways.
For those looking to escape into a Shakespearean fantasy world filled with fairies, comical misunderstandings, and top-notch singing, this production of Midsummer is not to be missed.
She cautions that even in a prestigious YAP or ensemble studio, the opera directors are juggling many priorities and they simply want "to get the most out of your voice right now."
When the legendary Jessye Norman receives the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize - Canada's most significant award for artistic achievement - soprano Pumeza Matshikiza will be among the impressive line-up of singers set to pay homage.
It is a piece that is so clearly a microcosm of a very specific place and time. Director Richard Jones has chosen to set it in the mid-60s in a repressive, religious Russian community where a life of domesticity, is a woman's only option.