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Opera atelier.

Having toured its original Le nozze di Figaro more than any other production, Opera Atelier concluded its 24th season at Toronto's Elgin Theatre in April with a handsome new English-language, period-conscious staging of Mozart's comic masterpiece, graced by sets by Gerard Gauci and costumes by one of the doyennes of Canadian design, Martha Mann.

The original production leaned heavily on the techniques of commedia dell' arte, threatening at times to reduce the characters to caricatures. In this revisit, director Marshall Pynkoski has retained the basic stylization but at a subtler level, drawing out more of the humanity of the characters, with choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg introducing dances at every opportunity.

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If Figaro doesn't measure his bed in the traditional manner in the opening scene, it is because the scene, indeed the opera as a whole, has been housed in a unit courtyard set, with elegant backdrops lowered to modify the locales.

Vocally and visually, this was one of the most youthfully engaging casts I've encountered in the opera, compensating in freshness and vitality what it sometimes lacked in depth of characterization and elegance of musical phrasing under the animating guidance of David Fallis's baton. Because of their larger personalities and more sumptuous voices, the debuting Count, Canadian baritone Phillip Addis (a real find), and the lovely Countess, soprano Peggy Kriha Dye, dominated the stage, opposite the charming Susanna of Carla Huhtanen and the rather bland Figaro of Olivier Laquerre.

Among the other members of the Almaviva household, two debutants stood out, the colorfully characterized Antonio of Vasil Garvanliev and, especially, the highly promising Cherubino of Wallis Giunta. Laura Pudwell's Marcellina, Curtis Sulllivan's Dr. Bartolo, Patrick Jang's over-the-top Basilio and Cavell Wood's Barbarina ably rounded out the cast.

--WL
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Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jun 22, 2010
Words:290
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