Opera 5: new faces, new show
Along with their upcoming production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, June 13-17 at Toronto's Factory Theatre, Opera 5 is rolling out the exciting news of their new leadership.
Stage director Jessica Derventzis steps into the role of Artistic Director, an appointment that follows the recent departure of Aria Umezawa. Derventzis has a past with Opera 5, having worked as a volunteer - "controlling fog machines," et cetera - co-directing the companys 2016 production of Die Fledermaus, and directing 2017's Suffragette.
Also celebrating a new role is conductor Evan Mitchell, for whom Il barbiere di Siviglia will mark the conductor's first production as Opera 5's Music Director.
Derventzis, Mitchell, and General Director Rachel Krehm, have worked together closely in past seasons, and their new collaboration as the faces of Opera 5 is the next step for what is "already a really great trio."
Mitchell will conduct a chamber-orchestra-sized Il barbiere di Siviglia, the perfect fit for the intimate Factory Theatre, which allows for mere feet between the audience and the action. "You will be right in on the joke," says Derventzis.
Opera 5's production will also feature guitarist Andy Cloutier playing the recitatives - a rare decision, and a very Spanish one. Cloutier will also make cameos for the onstage guitar music in Rossini's score. "It's something we certainly haven't encountered with The Barber of Seville before," says Mitchell. "I think it'll be really inspirational to the singers."
Barbiere is also a chance to hear some of Canada's hot talent, including mezzo Stephanie Tritchew as Rosina, baritone Johnathon Kirby as Figaro, Kevin Myers as Count Almaviva, and Jeremy Ludwig as Doctor Bartolo.
"We are setting Barber of Seville in the spring of 1914, just before World War I," says Derventzis. It's a setting that thrusts forward elements like soldiers and imminent war, and which is close enough to the Suffragette movement to add urgency to Rosina's entrapment by Dr. Bartolo. Derventzis employs a cage-like design to the set, "to represent Rosina trapped in this beautiful cage, where she sees the outside world perfectly and desires freedom."
Derventzis loves that Beaumarchais' Figaro plays - the 18th century source material of Rossini's Barber - tell stories of rich people being outwitted by society's underdogs: "a woman and a servant."
"Rosina is very intelligent and very wise to her surroundings," Derventzis adds. "The fact that she's able to get out of there on her and create this freedom for herself, says a lot about how wrong men are about women."