Second time lucky

A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of Don Quichotte, 2014. Photo: Chris Hutcheson

Presented with more or less identical performances on two different occasions, what is it exactly that can make one so different from the other? Where I whined & complained the first time, I had a wonderful experience seeing the Canadian Opera Company’s Don Quichotte a second time tonight, at the second last show of the run. All things being equal, the difference must be in my head, perhaps something I did wrong the first time. Because of course i would always prefer to have a good time (who wouldn’t?).  I want to have fun, not feel distant & estranged. Did I show up with too many stipulations? Or maybe I felt distant and estranged because I wasn’t sitting very close to the stage the first time. I’ve had this experience before with the COC & the Four Seasons Centre. I recall loving The Nightingale & Other Tales from up close, but having a completely different experience when seeing another performance, this time from afar. Tonight –sitting up close—I was just as thrilled by Ferruccio Furlanetto’s Don. He sounds wonderful, his performance a nuanced interpretation of a figure that can easily descend into mere sentimental cliché or a cartoon.

I wonder, though, if this is the same interpretation of Sancho Panza I’m seeing, or if Quinn Kelsey has grown into the role, found additional depths. He’s now a commanding presence, often more interesting than the Don, and always producing a congenial sound of warmth & full of emotion. While I also enjoyed Anita Rachvelishvili’s Dulcinée more than on opening night I think the problem was me, that I had previously been emotionally unavailable, closed off from what she and the production were doing.  The first time I’d alluded to the article I’d seen in a newspaper, writing up the Massenet opera alongside the Stratford production of the music Man of La Mancha, and how it had led me to compare the performance to a broadway musical: as though there’s something wrong with that.

Sometimes one needs to lighten up, to let go & to simply let yourself enjoy what you’re seeing.

I also should acknowledge something very positive in this production, namely the foregrounded presence of dance.

The Don & Sancho ride forth one last time on May 24th.

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