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 March 2010 - Nr. 3
Happy Easter - Frohe Ostern

It is a known fact that Opera York offers young performers a platform to hone their skills with seasoned artists. Each presentation is therefore somewhat of an experiment of the professional sort, which has been much appreciated for over 10 years now. We have seen some incredibly good performances of much loved and popular works as well as some of the more unknown. We have even experienced a modern opera with its North American debut last year, “And the Rat laughed”. We have fallen in love with some performers and almost expect them to be there.

This time there were a lot of new singers, all of very high quality. The voices were really exquisite, but the production did not fall on too much favour by some due to its changed time Michael York as Rigoletto [photo: Greg King Photography]frame. Somehow the moral content and the story line did not translate well into the last century (1958) with normal business attire in a city like New York with its criminal element. The ugly gnome Rigoletto was a bully of a fairly handsome and giant joker, sung by Michael York, a fine baritone with strong acting skills.

Michael York as Rigoletto & Charlotte Corwin as Gilda  [photo: Greg King Photography]Charlotte Cormin as Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda with her lyrical soprano delivered a poignant role that did not need the embellishment of gruesome red blood on the front of her skirt after being raped by the immoral Baron with criminal tendencies. A torn skirt and gestures would have told the story equally well without the brutality for shock value. The audience did not Anna Belikova as Giovanna & Romulo Delgado as Duke of Manchua  [photo: Greg King Photography]need it to understand the story.

The other characters rotated around the already gruesome plot in really good ensemble fashion, evoking the moods of the story that was moved a few hundred years into its future. Dramaturgically it just did not work out too well.

Final scene  [photo: Greg King Photography]Nevertheless, the acoustics of the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and the marvelous voices of the singers let us forget the shortcomings of this production in its industrial setting and modern clothing. If it did not please visually one could always close ones eyes and listen with pleasure to Verdi’s classic sounds by the fabulous orchestra under the baton of Geoffrey Butler.

Final curtain - Applause!

This experiment is not the only one that did not quite work out. The Wiener Staatsoper and the MET also produced a few unfavorable ones. Somehow we walked away thinking that we had seen art for art’s sake, not for pleasing an audience. But at least they had the guts to try.

Next we are looking forward to a gala. What comes after that? We are looking forward to Puccini’s La Boheme and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Consult the website at to stay informed. SFR.

Opera York is a professional opera/operetta company run by volunteers. It goes into the community and brings understanding of opera/operetta into the school system. Gives novices a chance to step onto the stage, has its own choir and orchestra and has become acknowledged and respected in the field and audiences alike.

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