The performance I saw was a microcosm of Houston at her best, a perfect example of the glorious, if not uncontroversial, results of numerous talented individuals combining their efforts to create something far bigger than the sum of its parts.
A cast of charismatic singing actors with impeccable comic timing to go with their across-the-board excellent Mozartean singing are the whipped cream and cherry on top of this operatic ice cream sundae.
"Son's entire demeanor shifted in this scene from distraught mess to calm intensity. The effect was quite jarring, ending the opera with a truly tragic shock."
"I absolutely believe the program's assertion that Pacini was Rossini's main rival for the bel canto crown during the peak of his career."
As Rigoletto leaves the party, we see the true depth of his character. As Mayes interprets him, the jester is very fidgety, his routines a compulsive series of tics that he feels compelled to practice even when nobody else is around, very much the modern laborer trapped in his work.
The amount of emotion and energy she put into her character's maniacal laughter, fear, abusive pummellings and Jekyll-and Hyde remonstrations of poor pitiful Toby were awful to observe – and I mean that as a compliment.
Aviva Fortunata as Giorgetta is a standout in Tabarro, with a warm full soprano, and barely-contained frustration and anger at being made to stay on the boat. Her desperation when she tries to leave her estranged husband is palpable as she nearly betrays her plan to escape.
Written by Guys and Dolls' Frank Loesser, I expected it to be simple and toe-tapping (don't get me wrong - I love Guys and Dolls!). The two grand pianos that served as Skylark's fearless orchestra, music direction by Carson Schneider, provided a sound not of the fun loving Runyon musical, but a mixture of Rodgers and Hammerstein with a dash of Leoncavello.
This production is feast for the eyes and ears. So much to see and listen to, full of emotional highs and lows, and a stage full of amazing talent.
With Rigoletto, Edmonton Opera connects with a wide spectrum of themes that most people will identify: the danger of power that goes unchecked, the fear when those closest to you are threatened, and the purity of love and being loved. If you've never seen an opera before, this is a production that will definitely get you hooked.