Printer Friendly

McGill University. (Opera in Review).

Falstaff was a surprising choice for a concert presentation in November by McGill University's orchestra and opera department. How could Verdi's valedictory belly-laugh sustain itself without the full-dress slapstick that the whole world equates with Shakespeare's Sir John? The answer turned out to be splendidly -- perhaps because for once, we were not distracted by physical comedy but encouraged to savor the subtle ironies and brilliant colors of the score.

Some action was realized (by Guillermo Silva-Marin). A raised eyebrow can go a long way under bright lights. Even the climactic dumping of Falstaff in the Thames was managed with panache just in front of the stage apron. Still, the core of the success was musical. The school hired a pro for the title role, Frederick Burchinal, a ringing baritone of strong presence and prismatic color who was never swamped by the orchestra. Dressed (like everyone) in formal attire, he was a relatively classy Falstaff, and clearly an inspiration to the student singers around him. Some of these--notably baritone Jonathan Carle as Ford--sounded ready for prime time.

Another plus was the pure tenor of Dimitri Pittas, our Fenton for the evening. Among the women, mezzo-soprano Genevieve Couillard (Mistress Quickly) and soprano Katerina Papadolias (Alice Ford) were the best of a good lot.

Falstaff is very much a conductor's opera, and Alexis Hauser--an Austrian starting this year as music director of the McGill Symphony Orchestra--demonstrated both a love for and understanding of the score. Detail was never subsumed by the boisterousness of the subject, and softer moments projected the same vital humor at a gentler level. The school will move on to a full staging of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress in the Spring.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Opera Canada Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Falstaff
Author:Kaptainis, Arthur
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Opera Review
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Previous Article:Edmonton Opera. (Opera in Review).
Next Article:Nabucco: Susan Novas (Abigaille) and Gaetan Laperriere in the title role of the Opera do Montreal production. (Montreal).

Related Articles
Ariadne auf Naxos. (Opera in Review).
Die Aegyptische Helena. (Opera in Review).
Opera in Concert. (Opera in Review).
Castor et Pollux. (Opera in Review: Toronto).
Timothy Vernon: as company founder, impresario, educator and mentor, here's a conductor whose home-grown career has made a difference across the...
Jean Stilwell.
Baritone Giles Tomkins is the recipient of Scottish Opera's John Scott Award for Career Development.
New York City Opera's.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters