Opera Nuova founder Kim Mattice Wanat directed Ariadne, bringing much antic energy and some good physical comedy to the scenes featuring the acting troupe. Both Zerbinettas were excellent in different ways. Frederique Drolet has a vocal warmth that comes through even in the more acrobatic coloratura passages. Anne Marie MacIntosh has the more effervescent coloratura, which allowed her to inject a little more dramatic vivacity into the role. In Alcina, directed by former Edmonton Opera Artistic Director Brian Deedrick, Krysta Mellon's Morgana was both hilarious and musically delightful. Edmonton-native Camille Holland sang the trouser role of Oberto with a pure, unaffected approach and totally convinced as the spirit of innocence. Her "Barbara! Io Ben, Lo So" had all the necessary control of ornamentation, though she might have summoned a little biting contempt for the manipulative Alcina.
Earlier in the festival, I saw Britten's Albert Herring. In the cramped quarters of University of Alberta's Convocation Hall, director Kelly Handerek did marvels to get the flow from scene to scene just right. Among the strongest singers creating convincing characters were Elizabeth Humphries, whose Lady Billows filled the auditorium with imperious self-assurance, and mezzo Lesley Dolman, who did a fine job of making her Florence Pike a very watchable centre of attention in the opening act.
Stage and light designer Nick Blais deserves special congratulations for creating on a modest budget three sets that helped raise the experience of these productions. Mattice Wanat's casting in this year's operas was splendid, and Edmonton opera fans got some excellent opera from her emerging artists.