You know you’re an opera fan when___ . There are lots of ways to complete the sentence, but how about this one(….?): you know you’re an opera fan when you come out of the Lion King, humming Ariadne auf Naxos. True I saw Lion King Tuesday night. I saw Ariadne April 30th . Richard Strauss stayed with me better than Elton John.
Of course I was also buzzing because I knew I’d be seeing it again: tonight in fact. The cast was slightly different, as I got a look at Adrianne Pieczonka as Ariadne.
I have to wonder. Has she been resting? Or on a different regimen? Not only did I find that her face looks a bit different, but she sounds different. I’ve never seen an Ariadne smile so much; the first half of the role especially, often gets a gloomy interpretation, but not Pieczonka.
I last saw her as Leonora in Fidelio back in 2009, opposite Richard Margison, with whom she again takes the stage. The voice sounds stronger and more self-assured. Granted, Ariadne is not a long role, but even so, I was amazed at how easy the whole thing seemed. At times she seemed to be holding back, with lots of voice in reserve. I wonder whether she’s now ready to undertake more demanding roles? The Siegfried Brünnhilde for example (the smallest of the three Brünnhildes) seems easily within her reach. The voice had a kind of pop to it that I haven’t heard before.
Deeper into the run, Neil Armfield’s production ran better than it had on opening night, starting with Pieczonka, who managed a couple of comic moments with the commedia folk upstaging her, yet brought a noble stance to her Ariadne. Her smile–which i mentioned– really added a dimension, so that even in the passages where she wasn’t singing, she was always interesting to watch.
The commedia figures(John Easterlin, Peter Barrett, Michael Uloth and Christopher Enns) didn’t try quite so hard this time, which made them funnier. When there was a lazzo, we got lotso silliness, but I felt there was less of the scrambly energy that I saw on the opening night when I felt they inadvertently upstaged one another. While they’re all better, Barrett in particular has improved as Arlecchino, simply by relaxing.
The commedia quartet are a great backdrop for Jane Archibald’s Zerbinetta, owning the stage whenever she wanted it.
The trio of nymphs (Simone Osborne, Lauren Segal and Teiya Kasahara) sounded more musical, absolutely perfect in their pitch tonight, and blending wonderfully with one another. I am a complete sucker for Echo’s lines. Echo repeats what others have said as if she were a little bit demented: because she IS Echo. Kasahara brought a touching naivete to her delivery, adding a wonderful pathos throughout.
And it was a special pleasure to once again watch and hear Andrew Davis lead the orchestra. His pacing is brave to say the least, with a breath-taking tempo in the nymphs’ set-piece introducing Bacchus, and always brisk & energetic.
It’s a bit shocking to look at the calendar, and recognize that May isn’t half over yet. The COC still have until May 29th:
- Four Cinderellas (May 13, 19, 22 & 25)
- Six Orfeos (May 14, 17, 20, 24, 26, 28)
- Five Ariadnes (May 15, 18, 21, 27 & 29)
I am seeing Orfeo again. I wonder if I can resist the other two operas.