I had a look at Oshawa Opera today and liked what I saw and heard, as did the large and eager audience jammed into Kingsview United Church. The space is an inviting one with a surprisingly good acoustic that surrounds performers on three sides.
Although Bizet’s Carmen has a very dark ending, today I couldn’t help noticing how much of the score feels celebratory. Or at least that’s what music director & pianist Kristine Dandavino seemed to emphasize in this concert performance, making for an uplifting and festive occasion.
Near the beginning we’re charmed by a children’s chorus, on this occasion the Durham Girls’ Choir. Later flautist Joanne Averill-Rocha joined Dadavino for the Entr’acte. Oshawa Chorus helped make the last tragic scene that much more splendid with their boisterous reprise of the Toreador Song.
And the voices were up to the occasion.
Sarah Christina Steinert was a seductive Carmen, suitably attired in red, opposite the big voice of Jason Lamont as Don Jose. Michael Robert-Broder was a suave Escamillo.
Getting opera going in any town – big or small—is a huge endeavour. Dandavino made the usual speech of thank-yous to volunteers and local businesses. I hope the message gets through: that the arts help to build a city and its culture. There was no mistaking the genuine love from the supportive audience.