KW & Beyond
by Irena Syrokomla
La Traviataas presented by Opera Ontario, Hamilton and Kitchener.
It was a full house for the last performance of opera at The Centre In The Square. La Traviata by Verdi is one of the most famous operas, fast paced, precise and dramatic, with memorable melodies. It is based on La Dame aux Camilias (Lady with Camellias) by Alexandre Dumas and preserved forever in film history by Greta Garbo.
There are no fillers, no delays, everything happens quickly and in front of the audience. At the same time it is subtle, demanding and requiring special voices. And Opera Ontario delivered.
The part of Violetta was sung by Jeanine Thames, who said in an interview with KW Opera, that time and maturity is needed to finally arrive at such a role. Her debut in La Traviata goes back to 2002 in Arizona Opera, and by 2006 her voice had matured for this demanding part: as she states herself the part of Violetta requires singing in 3 different sopranos, the first act is decorative coloratura, the second act a lyric soprano, the third and fourth acts are mostly dramatic. In this particular performance the evolution of character and voice was clearly visible. The audience followed the story and the final moments brought tears to their eyes.
Tenor Marc Hervieux sang the part of Alfredo, and baritone John Fanning played his father, George Germont. The voices were spectacular, the acting magnificent. Another part worth mentioning was an alto, Margaret Bardos in the role of Flora, Violetta’s friend.
Daniel Lipton, familiar and comfortable in our surroundings, conducted the orchestra. The set design was a credit to Peter Dean Beck: a sequence of windows changing the angles to reflect – or not reflect – the stage action. So simple and so powerful. The costumes were supplied by Malabar Ltd, as it would not be possible to have them made especially for four performances.
Altogether, what a memorable experience! Thank you, Opera Ontario, Mr. Lipton and the whole cast. Thank you.
The programs for the next season list Mozart’s Don Giovanni in
October, Samson et Dalila in January and Puccini’s Tosca in
May next year. There will also be a recital of great arias with Measha
Bruggergosman (what a feast, what a voice!) in Kitchener in November and
with Michael Schade in Hamilton in April. The programs are available at
Centre In The Square or consult website www.kw-opera.com, or call
1-800-265-8977. This is a program to look forward to – getting better every
Marion Bridgeat Theatre and Company, downtown Kitchener.
As I commented to Mr. Stuart Scadron-Wattles, it is difficult to believe this play was written by Daniel MacIvor, a man. He must have had a lot of assistance from some women to get it so right and so profound.
Marion Bridge it is a play about three sisters getting together somewhere on Cape Breton Island in the last days of their dying mother. Mother’s presence is hovering above them, but she never appears in front of us. The daughters, adults in their 30’s, bring their memories, their disappointments, pain and their hopes to these last days and ponder over the past, each one of them remembering it differently. The play is all woven memories, past regrets, old pain, and shadows of sadness. It is a very introspective women’s story. As I said, it is hard to believe a man wrote it.
Three actresses, Sara Gichrist, Genevieve Steele and Alyson Scadron Branner wanted to act together in this play and their cohesiveness is almost palpable. Different, but sisters anyway, they protect and support each other in their individual solitudes.
The play is not easy but very much worth seeing. It runs till June 11 at Theatre & Company, box office 519-571-0928.
Presently Theatre & Company is announcing plans for the next season: two series of plays, one called "Imagination Series" is oriented toward families and appropriate for children to make it a family experience, the second one "Experience Series" is directed to a sophisticated mature audience.
The Imagination Series is offering The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook Part II: The Girls Strike Back from July 13 till August 6, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge by Mark Brown a Christmas season play, and Rough House in February, created and performed by Andy Massingham.
The Experience Series consists of four plays, two of them by Neil Simon, Barefoot in the Park and Mourning Dove, two one-act plays on marriage by Harold Pinter and Intimate Exchanges by Alan Ayckbourn. I am looking forward to Pinter and Neil Simon on stage here!
For the coming season the management decided to lower prices for subscriptions to make it more affordable – for students or seniors – as well as for some performances block of seats will be offered for a flat fee of $10. There are also attractive packages intended for families and some other interesting ideas to make theatre going more appealing. New programs can be picked up downtown at your convenience. See you there!
The Heiressat Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Cherry trees are blooming, tulips and daffodils abound for the 2006 theatre season which opened at Niagara-on-the-Lake several weeks ago. The gardens in this beautiful town are spectacular, lovingly tended by residents and admired by visitors. The main street may be less busy than in the peak months, but the restaurants and ice cream parlors are full. It is spring in Ontario wine region.
The Heiress is an 1947 adaptation of Henry James’ novella Washington Square by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. It is classic Henry James, - mid 19th century in upper–class New York household of affluent Dr. Sloper (Michael Ball). His daughter, Catherine (Tara Rosling) is a naïve and shy young woman, not very capable of recognizing the realities of life. As the only daughter of Dr. Sloper she is expected to inherit a substantial property and income. A young man, Morris Townsend (Mike Shara), comes for a visit and recognizing an opportunity for a very comfortable life begins courting Catherine. The young lady has led a sheltered life and, being her naïvete, believes this is true love of a sincere man for her alone. She is ready to sacrifice everything for him and elope in spite of her father’s disapproval. Morris, realizing that she is to lose the inheritance in the event of elopement, does not show up for the clandestine meeting. Catherine is devastated. In the next act, a couple of years later, we see a different Catherine. She is hardened and more decisive. The father has passed away and she is the heiress. Suddenly Morris comes back and proclaims his unaltered affection. Let me leave you in suspense about the finale of the play!
Royal George Theatre is the right setting for the play. The stage design by Christina Poddubiuk reflects a very classic period of the affluent American in the 1850’s, with the acting and mannerisms of the period as special feature of the performance. Tara Rosling as Catherine is a bit stilted in the first act, perhaps overdoing the naivety of the part. Michael Ball as Dr. Sloper is excellent, as are other supporting actors. The play is directed by Joseph Ziegler, a man of broad experience and a long list of achievements.
The Heiress is enjoying excellent reviews in national newspapers and is running till October 7.
The Festival box office is 1-800-511-7429, web-side www.shawfest.com. Give them a call and have a great summer!
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