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A New Il trovatore from Opéra de Montréal

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts
01/21/2012 -  & January 24, 26, 28, 2012
Giuseppe Verdi: Il trovatore
Hiromi Omura (Leonora), Dongwon Shin (Manrico), Gregory Dahl (Count di Luna), Laura Brioli (Azucena), Ernesto Morillo (Ferrando), Karine Boucher (Ines), Riccardo Iannello (Ruiz), Jean-Michel Richer (a gypsy), Gaétan Sauvageau (a messenger)
Chœur de l’Opéra de Montréal, Claude Webster (chorus master), Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Francesco Maria Colombo (conductor)
Oriol Tomas (director), Opéra de Montréal [sic] (sets and costumes), Anne-Catherine Simard-Deraspe (lighting), Lucie Vigneault (choreography)

H. Omura & D. Shin (© Yves Renaud)

For the third offering of its 2011-12 season, Opéra de Montréal (OdM) mounted a handsome, new, in-house production of Il trovatore. It featured a strong, international cast with principals from Japan, Korea and Italy as well as Canada. Lyric soprano Hiromi Omura shone as Leonora. Her pure vocal line was capable of subtle sensitivity (notably in the convent scene) and soaring power in the coloratura passages. Tenor Dongwon Shin as Manrico matched her in power but sometimes had difficulty with his lower notes. Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl impressed as Count di Luna. Although no match in power for Omura and Manrico, his voice was warm, sonorous and well focused. Laura Brioli delivered an overwrought Azucena but her heavy vibrato and monotonous delivery were wearying. The bass of Ernesto Morillo as Ferrando was rich, smooth and satisfying. Karine Boucher (Ines), Ricardo Iannello (Ruiz) and Jean-Michel Richer (the gypsy), all members of OdM’s highly successful training school, the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, provided solid counterparts to the principals.

The sparse, traditional sets relied heavily on vertical lines—including tall, thin columns, lattice panels and cypresses, and rich, prominent lighting to convey the oppressive sense of power and gloom that pervaded the production. Particularly impressive were the scenes involving fire and the framing of the nuns’ and soldiers in the convent scene. Props were few but tasteful and elegant. The large, golden, two-headed eagle suspended high from stage left evoked the richness of the Spanish courts. The stylized Christ on the cross suspended from centre stage resembled an emaciated ray fish or one of Jana Sterbak’s raw meat sculptures. The dance scene was energizing and convincing, the fight scenes less so.

The Choeur de l’Opéra de Montréal sang well as a whole, but the women’s chorus was more impressive than the men’s chorus, which was slightly thin in the bass section. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, under the direction of Francesco Maria Colombo, played admirably, but the pacing sometimes lacked momentum.

It is surprising but encouraging to see a new production mounted solely by the OdM during their current fiscal difficulties. For this season the number of productions has been cut to four from five.

Earl Arthur Love



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