Sunday, February 13, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito

La Clemeza di Tito, Mozart's Last Opera, was performed superbly last night by the Vancouver Opera. Music Director, Jonathan Darlington described it's theme as power and what we do it.  As such it was a surprisingly timely piece.  Vitellia, played by  soprano, Wendy Nielsen, feeling betrayed, convinces,Sesto, played by Mezzo Soprano Krisztina Szabo to betray his friend, Emperor Tito played by tenor John Tessier.  It's all about love. Scheming Vitellia wants revenge and  throne but Servillio, Sesto's sister, played by soprano Kathleen Brett, forfeits the throne out of love for Annio, played by Mezzo Soprano, Norine Burges.  Publio, played bybass- baritone Thomas Goerz is the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard. The Vancouver Opera chorus, directed by Leslie Dala, play the people of Rome.
In the original performance for the Coronation of Lepold II 1791, conducted by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself,   Sesto was played  by castrato, Domenico Bedini. Our opera opened with the somewhat west coast friendly twist of two women obviously having a domestic quarrel.  Obviously for lack of Castratos, thankfully, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo stepped in.
David Zinn outdid himself with set and costume design blending ancient Rome and 18th century European themes to create a mythical wonder.  The costumes were simply splendid.  The bold singing of the Vancouver Opera Chorus was set off by Zinn's boldly coloured costumes. Director Chas Rader-Sheiber's work was  truly masterful.
It was a delightful opera. Uplifting and refined.  i think only a half dozen people in the audience sought to draw attention to themselves by wearing jeans and acting like refugees. The rest were a sight to behold.  Looking about the audience's expression of form and taste at intermission, I was delighted with rich people watching, with a bit of who's who thrown in.
The curtain fall, the bows, standing applause, more applause, the curtain falling and  then everyone ushered out of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre jabbering to each other and  smiling at the twists and turns the final plot had taken. Voices that seemed perfect in the first act surpassed themselves in the second. How was that possible?
"So whose voice did you like best?" I asked Laura as we walked to our vehicle.
"They were all so good.  I really can't say. I'm sure the audience clapped loudest for Sesto and Servillia but Vitellia was the most poweful. What about you?"
"I loved them all.  Normally there's more of a spread but this opera everyone seemed special.  I did like Tessier's, Tito.  His voice was sweet and he seemed as believable in his representation of magnanimity as the poweful but ultimately humbled Vitellia." I said.
"Darlington is so handsome. I found myself watching him at times." she said.  I noted that I hadn't asked her what she thought of Darlington, though I had to admit I loved his conducting.  The symphony was terrific as it's music weaved through and around the voices."
Another opera.  Dr. Michael Gallagher, the Development Committee Chair 's page in Playboard Magazine celebrated  the community support.  The Leader's Circle at $50,000 plus included Anonymous, Yoshiko Karasawa and Michael Audain, Mike and Kathy Gallager, and Ms. Martha Lou Henley recently appointed to the Order of Canada. The Maestro Circle $20 to 35 thousand, Director's Circle $15 to 20,000, Patrons, $2,500 to $5000 and Benefactor's $1200 to 2500. all contribute immensely to the high standards of the VSO.  This season's sponsor is Goldcorp and the Production sponsor is the Vancouver Operaguild. Thanks to them and those that come out to the performances, Vancouver is blessed with world reknowned opera.
The next is Verdi's, La Traviati in April.

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