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Opera York.

Opera York's presentation of Lucia di Lammermoor featured a felicitous mix of fresh young voices at the beginning of their careers and experienced singers in full maturity and beyond. Seen on opening night (Nov. 6) at the acoustically friendly Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, there was much to enjoy, although being a weeknight, there were far too many empty seats for comfort. A performance of the Donizetti warhorse stands or falls with the heroine, and OY was fortunate to have in soprano Allison Arends a vocally fresh and engaging Lucia, offering lovely tone and good coloratura. If Paul Williamson's Manrico last season was rather overparted, his lyric tenor was up to the task here as Edgardo, a few fleeting moments of strain notwithstanding. However, one could have wanted a bit more chemistry between the two lovers. At 72, when most singers are long retired, bass-baritone Gary Relyea proved once again he's a true evergreen, sounding decades younger with firm tone and acting with authority. Another veteran, UK-based Canadian baritone Jeffrey Carl was Enrico. There was some dryness to his tone, but his top register remained impressive and he made a fine villain. Given the budgetary limitations of OY, Frank Pasian worked wonders with a simple yet pleasing set that was functional and served the music. Coming out of retirement for this assignment, stage director Giuseppe Macina's approach was suitably traditional, but even he couldn't do much with the chorus, a continuing weak point at OY. Conductor Sabatino Vacca generally had the orchestra under control, but his tempi were sometimes erratic. The projected surtitles were too dim and the font too small to be read comfortably. Despite glitches, overall this Lucia was a success.--Joseph So

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Author:So, Joseph
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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