Opéra de Montréal ___________ Benjamin/Crimp: Written on Skin (Jan 25)
Metropolitan Opera Live in HD_ Gershwin: Porgy and Bess (Feb 1)
Opéra McGill ________________ Weill: Street Scene (Feb 2)
Three notable lyric events in Montreal marked the beginning of the year:
Opéra de Montréal presented George Benjamin & Martin Crimp’s contemporary piece Written on Skin (2012) as their third production of the current season. Set in medieval times, it is the story of a woman’s emancipation from a brutal, controlling husband, and her defiant emergence into selfhood. A visually impressive gothic black leather style production, the weaknesses of the libretto and lack of direction and purpose in the musical score make this piece, alas, unmemorable. The soloists and Montreal Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Nicole Paiement were all admirably prepared for the opening night performance.
The Metropolitan Opera’s much touted new production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess came to the Live in HD screens Feb. 1. Eric Owens and Angel Blue headed a stellar cast in a riveting and heartwarming performance of this American masterpiece.
Buck, Marcel, & I were wowed by Opéra McGill’s production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at Monument-National on Feb. 2nd. Weill conceived the piece as a synthesis of European traditional opera and American musical theatre. The score contains jazz and blues elements, references to the styles of Giacomo Puccini and Franz Lehar, and Broadway-style musical numbers. In what was likely one of the company’s biggest and most ambitious projects to date, director Patrick Hansen availed himself of an exceptionally large cast of soloists and symphony orchestra from the McGill Department of Music. An impressive set and notable dance sequences, along with the opera’s many fine arias, duets and ensembles, brought this committed production to life. Of note among the soloists were Jessica Toupin as Rose, Avery Lafrentz as Anna, Léo McKenna as Frank Maurrant, Justin Kautz and Grace Bokenfohr as Dick McGann and Mae Jones.