Hamilton.Opera Ontario brought its season to a close with an elegant, clever staging of La traviata La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It takes as its basis the novel La dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, published in 1848. that projected a nice sense of time and place through the clever manipulation of Peter Dean Beck's single set (from Edmonton Opera) and the varied palette of Stephen Ross's lighting design. The shift from the colorful salons of Parisian high society to the country to the desolate setting of the final act was achieved with little more than five flats representing large windows, some curtaining to frame the stage and some columns. It's a pity the costumes, off the rack from Malabar and obviously just out of the cleaners, tended to undermine this otherwise effective theatrical sleight of hand sleight of hand
n. pl. sleights of hand
1. A trick or set of tricks performed by a juggler or magician so quickly and deftly that the manner of execution cannot be observed; legerdemain.
Director Rob Herriott took a traditional approach to the production, with some nice blocking for the crowd scenes and a largely successful attempt to project the principal characters as living and dealing with the keen and conflicting emotions that make this piece so affecting. Herriott's attention to stage business and detail intruded in·trude
v. in·trud·ed, in·trud·ing, in·trudes
1. To put or force in inappropriately, especially without invitation, fitness, or permission: from time to time. On Alfredo's entrance in Act II, for instance, he takes off his coat, rolls up his shirt sleeves, takes off his cravat cravat /cra·vat/ (krah-vat´) a triangular bandage. , washes his hands and settles down with his newspaper (all the while singing the lovely "De' miei bollenti spiriti"). Just a few minutes later, after deciding to go to Paris, he dresses just as carefully in reverse, all the while singing of his remorse. It was all a bit too fussily fuss·y
adj. fuss·i·er, fuss·i·est
1. Easily upset; given to bouts of ill temper: a fussy baby.
2. contrived in the cause of realism.
But the opening night performance (April 29) was always engaging and often compelling. Conductor Daniel Lipton kept everything moving forward; his approach to Verdi was brisk, though not hurried, and he never lost touch with the melodic line. The Hamilton Philharmonic wasn't in its tightest form, but nor did it detract too much from the vocal achievements on the stage.
Opera Ontario scored well with its principals, with American soprano Jeanine Thames (Violetta), Montreal tenor Marc Hervieux (Alfredo) and Barrie, Ont.-born baritone baritone or barytone (both: băr`ĭtōn), male voice, in a lighter and higher range than a bass but lower than a tenor. John Fanning (Giorgio Germont). Thames has all the flexibility and money notes for this bel canto bel can·to
A style of operatic singing characterized by full, even tones and a brilliant display of vocal technique.
[Italian : bel, bello, beautiful + canto, singing. role. The sound is richer in the lower and middle registers, but nicely articulated throughout, and she proved a strong actress. She also looked good with Hervieux, whose Italianate, open sound and forthright delivery are starting to get him through the doors of such houses as La Scala La Scala
Opera house in Milan, Italy. Built in 1776 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (which country then ruled Milan), it replaced an earlier theatre that had burned. and the Met. He's got the money notes, too, as the end of the Act I Brindisi thrillingly proved (he did, however, duck the high ending of the Act II "Oh mio rimorso"). Fanning was in strong voice, singing with great conviction to realize his character's transformation from haughty haugh·ty
adj. haugh·ti·er, haugh·ti·est
Scornfully and condescendingly proud. See Synonyms at proud.
[From Middle English haut, from Old French haut, halt disdain for Violetta to compassion.
La traviata usually comes across as a three-character opera, though there are six comprimario roles and a chorus in the mix. Pretty well everyone is in it together in the conclusion to the second scene of Act II, which, in this performance, happily proved a musical and dramatic highlight, to everybody's credit.