2/03/2008

The Burdens Of Being Upright

After a lovely meal at Babur on Friday, Deborah and I sloshed our way to the opera house ready to settle in our seats, all layers and hope. The snow didn't seem to much affect the other two thirds of the audience who chose to brave the elements either. Who knew we were such a hearty crowd?

Seeing Puccini's Tosca would have been an enjoyable enough affair for the music alone although it was less unified and symphonic than I expected. Reflecting on the darkness and urgency of the story, the score did befit the jealousy, violence, and tragedy to come. The story was filled with all those tasty opera staples like torture, murder and suicide and as with any Canadian Opera Company production, the orchestra and chorus were masterful and excellent, a joy to hear.

Tenor Mikhail Agafonov as Cavaradossi elevated the production with his perfect vocal purity and power and a commanding presence. Having seen him in a number of great performances, I remain impressed.

The rest of the cast had strong enough voices but when the music softened enough to really hear baritone Alan Opie as Baron Scarpia at the beginning of Act Two, the effect was entrancing. He managed to make his character though largely unappealing and conniving, somehow appealing and easy to watch.

While in powerful and dramatic voice but lacking a certain warmth, soprano Eszter Sumegi in the title role made the unfortunate choice of exaggerated expressions and overly grand movements. This threatened to trip her up nearly as much as her unwieldy costumes.

Two of the gowns she wore, while lovely to look at, had trains so long they required her to heft them at every turn to avoid prematurely meeting her fate by tripping. I was left distracted by her performance and driven to the odd titter. I'm convinced the cries of Brava! at night's end may have been more for her success at having remained on her feet than her execution of the role.


Next up is From The House Of The Dead, where I would have ended up blogging from had I been forced to do an in person critique of this show to Ms. Sumegi.

17 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

There's nothing quite like being distracted from the actual performance by threats of wardrobe malfunctions. Good for you though for remembering your roots and braving the snow.

Also bonus points for multi-tasking the word "titters".

Suze said...

Brava! Brava! Excellent review. Does Mrs. Bagel Lady know about Deborah? I believe tortue, murder and suicide just might be in your future if she finds out.

X. Dell said...

(1) I see. It's more like the House of the Living Dead.

(2) I have an idea for a new reality tv show: When Costumers Go Bad.

(3) You guys are a hearty crowd. There aren't that many people who would show up at a football game in bad weather. Of course, football games are held outside. Maybe, if you put down some turf in the opera house, we'll see who's actually heartier.

Jake's Mom said...

"Raw, and at times even violent, emotion..."
I would say that about covers your evening, but what about Tosca? ;}

Franki said...

I dunno nuffin about opera but that picture is hilarious.

FranIAm said...

I do know about opera and the picture is still hilarious!!

And really- titters!

Flannery Alden said...

A perfect evening with Dale: a trip to Ikea and a viewing of a scoff-worthy production of anything. Hopefully followed by bagels.

Dale said...

I'm distracted by so many things Barbara, it's not even funny. Trekking through the snow wasn't so bad, we made angels with titters!

They don't know each other Suze so please don't blow my cover.

Haha, yes it was a little like that X. Dell. As for the costumer, wouldn't they be able to tell rather quickly that it's a cumbersome thing? Yes, we Canadians may grouse but we weather the weather fairly well. Turf is a good idea, it'll pack them in.

I always forget to review what I'm seeing because I'm too focused on the little things or the big things or just things Jake's Mom.

It's a keeper isn't it Franki?

I couldn't help myself Fran, the photo and the titters just had to be seen, so to speak.

We could try and build something in Ikea to start Flannery and that might be scoffworthy in itself. Let's do it. Maybe we'll build a table and have our bagels on it? If you come to Toronto, we'll have to go out in search of the cultshur.

Coaster Punchman said...

Don't tempt us with Indian food before noon! Now I'm starved.

Your opera house sounds like a real riot, Alice.

Also, do you realize just how much a Joyce DeWittt reference ages you? ;)

Dale said...

Once the carbon dating results are in Coaster Punchman, we'll find that I predate Jesus which is why I'm so cranky all the time.

Evil Evil Genius said...

While I am sure the C.O.C. is a very respectable troupe, the idea of the "Canadian Opera Company" has my mind creating its own a zany Kids in the Hall version of what that may be.

pistols at dawn said...

The only good kind of opera is a hip-hopera. And that's not actually good, just fun to say.

Dale said...

It was a little Kids in the Hall-ian the other night EEGenius with the wardrobe issues and flouncing around the stage.

I've never managed to say hip hopera out loud but at least now I've typed it Pistols. You're so giving.

genn6 said...

I just saw Tosca in Cleveland a couple months ago; though everyone was good, no one was a standout, except for the scene of the attack on Tosca by Scarpia, the female lead did a phenomenal job conveying the absolute fear through her voice. But that was it.

We'll all have to pack up and go to Paris and see it.

Dale said...

Let me know when you'll be sending my ticket and we'll head for Paris Genn6, that'd be great. The scene you mentioned in the production I saw played more like something from Three's Company.

genn6 said...

OMG! haha, I just replayed what that scene looked like in my head and this was definitely no Chrissy or Janet! I'm sorry to hear that, Dale, that was one of the finer moments of performance I'd ever seen.

When I win the lottery, we're in Paris.

Dale said...

Keep buying the tickets okay? I will too. Yesterday I watched La Traviata, a dvd gift from my sister with Renee Fleming, pretty good stuff.