Paper or plastic? Shaken or stirred?
How about Verdi or Wagner? That was one big question tonight. While some people chose to attend the opening of the COC’s Il trovatore, I opted for Wagner, namely Die Walküre. Oh dear, …I’m better with the food questions….
The concert performance in the intimate confines of College St United Church was an opportunity for some wonderful singing.
There was Michael Robert-Broder singing a very different sort of Hunding. In my experience the part is usually a brute, loud and scary. How atypical then to have a Hunding who was capable of being loud but also soft, precisely in tune, and full of subtlety. And since when does Sieglinde have an attractive husband? This was a fascinating & unexpected transgression.
Hunding was busy trying to scare his unexpected guest, namely the Siegmund of Lenard Whiting. In the concert this was a tuxedoed Siegmund, sung with wonderfully clear diction and remarkable accuracy. While Whiting might be a little light to sing Siegmund in a big venue with orchestra, he was just fine on this occasion, showing excellent stamina.
Wotan was the truly godlike presence of Andrew Tees, not only bringing power to the angry parts, gentle and musical pianissimos to the introspective parts in the second act, but also unexpected resourcefulness when confronted with a pianist re-writing chunks of Wagner. Wotans are not usually expected to improvise their role, but my hat’s off to Tees, who sang with bold conviction.
One of the most exciting moments of the night came during the Ride of the Valkyries, when Margo Levae, Naomi Eberhard, Christine Turingia, Karen Bojti, Erin Armstrong, Dolores Tjart, Monica Zerbe and Olga Tylman provided, first the happy diversion that opens the act, followed by their rescue of Sieglinde and the powerful confrontation with Wotan that follows.
Alla Ossipova as Fricka was progressively more powerful with every line sung, a goddess to match Tees’ god.
Acts Two and Three were sung without intermission, which must have been taxing for all of the performers. I was impressed that they were able to carry on so ably.
I suppose my biggest question was how to reconcile my Pollyanna principles (that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all), with the desire to honour so many people who worked hard and did great work. This bizarre review is one solution to that question.
I hope that if this offends anyone, they’ll not be harsh in their criticism.