My festival summer should have ended with the performance of Vivaldi's Griselda in Santa Fe yesterday evening, but luckily David Holloway, the Director of the Apprentice Program, invited me to attend the dress rehearsal of the second program of Apprentice Scenes this morning. With excerpts from Jonathan Dove's The Flight, Béatrice et Bénedict, Manon, Così fan tutte, Sweeney Todd, Capriccio, Eugene Onegin and Rigoletto, the apprentices seemed even more impressive to me then in their first program last Sunday and some of the individual performances were truly outstanding, even at 11:00 a.m.! I'm grateful I could attend.
The performance of Vivaldi's Griselda yesterday evening was a true highlight of my festival summer. It actually was the first Vivaldi opera I've seen on a stage and I'm still astonished how masterfully he characterizes the roles with his music. The story of a queen of humble origins, repudiated and put through a series of trials by her king, just to be reinstated as the queen at the end of the piece is unbelievably moving. The production by director Peter Sellars and Los Angeles-based visual artist Gronk has been controversial with the public and some critics here, but, frankly, I don't quite understand why. Not only does it propose one of the most beautiful and suggestive sets I've seen in a while, it also treats the characters of the piece with so much tenderness and emotional depth that I was spellbound in my seat for the entire duration of the performance. I'm glad our Toronto audience will get to see Peter's work soon. Add to a marvelous production a superlative cast headed by Paul Groves (our Idomeneo in 2010) and Meredith Arwady (Death in our BAM tour of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables in March), Isabel Leonard (coming to the COC soon), Amanda Majeski (not coming yet, but I would love to have her) as well as countertenors David Daniels (also coming soon) and Yuri Minenko. Opera doesn't get much better.
Tomorrow I'll be back in Toronto and on Tuesday we will start rehearsals for our new Rigoletto. The COC's 2011/12 season will start on September 22.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (2) / permalink
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