LEAD VOICES THE DRAW FOR CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY’S 2012/2013 SEASON PREMIERE
Story by Erin Lucuik
Photos by Michael Cooper
Like every popular soap opera, Verdi’s opera, Il Trovatore, lures in viewers with a tale full of love, hate and, of course, revenge. The plot may sound predictable, but thanks to the outstanding voices of the four leads it is safe to say that you’ll be engaged throughout the entire production.
Set against the backdrop of the civil war, the opera is centered on the gypsy Azucena, played flawlessly by Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina. As the plot unfolds, we learn of the rivalry between troubadour Manrico, who happens to be the adopted son of Azucena, and the Conte di Luna. Their mutual love for Leonora, the lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon, eventually ends in a rousing duel that results in the imprisonment of Manrico. With Manrico in jail, Leonora is determined to save his life, and goes to extreme measures to do so. Throughout the opera, the audience is taken on a journey that culminates with Azucena revealing a shocking secret.
While all of the leads give strong performances in the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) production of Il Trovatore, standouts include South-African soprano Elza van den Heever as Leonora, whose delivery runs the gamut of emotions with great success. Canadian baritone Russell Braun commands the stage as the Conte di Luna with great vocal control and strength. And lest not forget world-renowned, award-winning tenor Ramón Vargas who joins the cast for certain performances as Manrico.
Although following several different plot lines can get complicated at times, Conductor Marco Guidarini does a wonderful job of directing the orchestra to lead the audience through the bevy of twists and turns. Likewise, the set was useful in following the storyline, and was both impressive in scale and with its simple, elegant style. The lighting however was lack luster. Had it focused on the leads at any point in the production the audience might have had a chance to appreciate the costumes
Like any COC production, Il Trovatore comes highly recommended. This production in particular is an ideal opportunity to see opera singing at its best.
Canadian Opera Company presents Il Trovatore
Four Season Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West, Toronto)
Runs until October 31, 2012