In review: TSMF's Night at the Opera Clockwise from top left: Roger Honeywell, Julie Nesrallah, Gary Relyea, and Danika Lorèn.

In review: TSMF's Night at the Opera

Jenna Simeonov

There are certainly the Puritans out there, who prefer their opera delivered in an uncut, strictly contextual manner; but for plenty of us the gala-type concert is a perfect offering of treats. Opera fans who admit to a bit of indecision - and maybe moments of short attention spans - love a night of hit after hit, sung by a small group of singers that get to show off some stylistic variety.

Part of the 2017 Toronto Summer Music Festival line-up, A Night at the Opera lay somewhere between a gowns-and-glamour opera gala and a pops concert. The programme boasted everything from Mozart to Offenbach; the first half was littered with hits (big, fat arias and the quartet from Rigoletto), and the second half was a highlights reel of Bizet’s Carmen. Onstage were soprano Danika Lorèn, tenor Roger Honeywell, bass-baritone Gary Relyea, pianist Robert Kortgaard, violinist Nikki Chooi, and mezzo-soprano and host of the evening, Julie Nesrallah.

There were some serious show-stealers of the evening; Lorèn earned some well-deserved “bravas” after her stunning “Caro nome” from Rigoletto, and Honeywell made an impactful entrance with his first aria, “Ah, la paterna mano” from Verdi’s Macbeth. Relyea made us lean in with his “Il lacerato spirito” (Don Carlo), and Nesrallah broke the ice with her lovely starter, “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” (Samson et Dalila). Plus, honourary singer of the evening Nikki Chooi broke hearts with the “Méditation” from Massenet’s Thaïs.

In her role as host, Nesrallah took a cue of sorts from her work at the CBC as she offered up some backstory and context for the operatic numbers. Though well-written and delivered unpretentiously, the chatter seemed to break up the flow; then again, those might be the whinings of a hardcore opera fan.

TSMF runs through August 5, so check out the full calendar of events to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

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