Masks to Try On

Masks to Try On

Jenna Simeonov

I’m getting myself in the mood for the COC’s fast-approaching production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. So I’m Masked-Ball-hopping, watching about three different versions at once at the moment. In the foreground is the classic Moshinsky production from the Met in 1980, with Pavarotti, Ricciarelli, Berini, and Canada’s beloved Louis Quilico as Renato. Here he is being a Verdi baritone:

And to keep things fresh, I’m watching with rapt curiosity the Met’s recent broadcast of _Ballo. _It’s from December 2012, and the cast is pretty stellar: Sondra Radvanovsky, Marcelo Álvarez, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Stephanie Blythe, and a goateed Kathleen Kim. The production is David Alden’s; I’m always curious to see work by both David and Christopher Alden, since they always seem to wear their hearts on their sleeves as they communicate with their audience. Some of the singing doesn’t do it for me (Stephanie Blythe’s chest-voice/head-voice cutoff point stresses me out), and some of the direction looks a bit hokey (it’s a problem when you film something meant to be seen from afar). But it’s eye-candy for opera-lovers, and if you’re in the industry, you can be kept busy catching a glimpse of your opera friend So-And-So in the chorus or singing small roles. Hi, Keith Miller! It’s worth another look at that Met Opera on Demand free trial I’ve been nagging about.

The production coming to the Canadian Opera Company looks exciting in both musical and artistic terms. I always love seeing Adrianne Pieczonka onstage, and I’m curious to have another listen to both tenor Dmitri Pittas and mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina. I remember Elena being a no-holds-barred Azucena in the COC’s Il trovatore in 2012, and Pittas was impressive as the Duke in Rigoletto in 2011. It could be a loud night.

Canadian soprano Simone Osborne will sing the role of Oscar, and it’s something I’m looking forward to seeing. Simone has sung her fair share of feminine roles on the COC stage (Gilda, Pamina, Lauretta, Musetta), and I feel like she also has a secret knack for playing a guy. Here she is with fellow Canadian singer Adrianne Pieczonka as they anticipate the production’s opening:

The production is by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, and it’s already impressed audiences at the Berliner Staatsoper. At the podium will be maestro Stephen Lord, who will no doubt bring the music and libretto together to create the most organic kind of drama. Here, he talks with us about conducting singers and working in a theatrical genre of music.

The COC’s Un ballo in maschera opens February 2nd at 2pm at the Four Seasons Centre. For more info or to buy tickets, click here.

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