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Dawson Creek.

Braving minus-32C weather in early March, Dawson Creek's music lovers showed their delight in opera in their enthusiastic attendance of Rotraud Lopp's annual celebration of the art. This year, it was a "Gala Night" of opera in concert, a welcome pot-pourri of some of the best-loved selections from the French, Italian and German repertoires. Seven soloists from Edmonton, Fort St John, Vancouver, Abbotsford and Spirit River performed with the Dawson Creek Symphonette and Choir, conducted by Lopp.

The lively opening chorus from Smetana's The Bartered Bride set the pace for an night of brightly sung and sensitively interpreted music. Mallory Smith and Andrew Greenwood blended well-controlled voices in the famous duet "Au fond du temple saint" from Bizet's Les Pecheurs de Perles. Smith brought a sense of boyish charm and passion to his clear tenor voice. Greenwood, fresh from his success as Figaro in Burnaby Lyric Opera's II Barbiere di Siviglia, reprised that role here with the "Largo al factotum." His lyric baritone, with a warm, vibrant sound that can be humorous as well as sensual, is well-suited to the role. His riveting persona and rapport with the audience, showed an enviable ease with the role's acting and the muscial demands. His is a voice ready for even greater challenges.

Jane Perret-Murray, a newcomer to Dawson Creek, won over the audience with her performance of Cio-Cio-San's "Un bel di" from Madama Butterfly. Her voice exhibits careful study and application to a three-octave range that is seamless in execution. She sustains the rich tonal color expected of a mezzo right into her upper register, giving Cio-Cio-San's aria an added poignancy and warmth. She was also a sensual Carmen, singing the "Habanera" with the chorus, and later with Nick Markovich's Escamillo.

The agile lyric soprano of Kelly Crook was displayed to advantage in excerpts from La Traviata and Rigoletto. In both, her voice soared effortlessly above the musical line of the other participants. Local restaurateur Charles Kux-Kardos lightened the "Brindisi" from La Traviata by appearing on stage with a tray of champagne.

The Papageno-Papagena duet from Die Zauberflote, sung by Linda Houle and Joseph Chambrinho, was the unquestionable bit of the evening. Dressed in traditional feathered costumes, the couple delighted the audience not only with their expressive voices but also with their consummate acting. Even the English lyrics, which made the tempo demanded challenging, didn't daunt the soloists, whose every word was heard.

Chorus members, including David Mar, Cliff Erickson, and John Hankewich, also took solo roles in the Bizet and the Verdi selections. The chorus concluded a demanding program by performing "Va pensiero" from Nabucco, accompanied by the 37-piece orchestra of local musicians augmented by others from all over the provinces of B.C. and Alberta.

These opera productions in Dawson Creek are a tribute to the amazing dedication of Rotraud Lopp, whose work was recognized at one of the two performances by the presentation of the Queen's Jubilee Medal by Jay Hill, MP for Prince George/Peace River.
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Title Annotation:Rotraud Lopp's Gala Night of opera
Author:Clark, Hilary
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Concert Review
Date:Sep 22, 2003
Previous Article:Opera calendar: listings of Canadian & international stage performances.
Next Article:L'Enfant des Glaces: Pauline Vaillancourt and Jean Maheux in the Chants Libres production.

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