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Opera Ontario.

Opera Ontario opted for the conventional pretty realism of an Opera de Montreal production for its season-opening presentation of Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. It all looked well enough, except perhaps for the colonnaded vastness of Frere Laurent's "cell," and provided a colorful setting for some excellent singing and playing. Although it contains lovely music. Gounod's opera isn't exactly a repertoire staple, so this was a welcome opportunity to see the work live onstage, with the additional fillip of hearing Juliette's aria, "Amour, ranime mon courage," which was cut at the opera's premiere, restored to its position just before she takes the poison. With its driving rhythms, the piece proved a good showcase (as did the familiar "Je veux vivre") for the agile coloratura and forceful, firm-toned singing of soprano Laura Whalen in the title role.

American tenor Bruce Bellemer sounded right as Romeo, with just a few problems of intonation at the top of his voice, but generally heroically open-throated and with a nice feel for dynamics. Otherwise, the cast included a number of accomplished Canadian performers in good form, including the richly sonorous bass-baritone Thomas Goerz doing double duty as Le Duc DeVeronne and Frere Laurent (the scale of the voice was such that the latter sounded more like Verdi's Grand Inquisitor), baritone Bruce Kelly as Le Comte Capulet, mezzo Lynnc McMurtry as the Nurse, baritone Alexander Dobson as Mercutio and mezzo Norine Burgess as Stephano. Rounding out the cast were Eric Shaw (Tybalt), Nelson Sierra (Le Compte Paris), Doug MacNaughton (Gregorio) and Brian Gow (Benvolio). Although the opera is punctuated with a number of showpieces, it also depends on tight ensemble work from its relatively large cast of named characters and grand-opera scale chorus. The strong ensemble certainly paid off for this production. Director Kelly Robinson masterminded a dynamic staging that played out to the fluid conducting of OO's recently appointed General Director, David Speers.
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Title Annotation:HAMILTON
Author:Gooding, Wayne
Publication:Opera Canada
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Putting Mozart in his place: Iain Scott argues for his supremacy in opera.
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