31 March 2008

Atelier Lyrique

Yesterday afternoon was instalment number four of my season at the opera. This time, it was the 'Atelier Lyrique,' wherein, as I understand it, up-and-coming Montréal opera performers take their turn with the OdM (Opéra de Montréal) public. There were two one-act presentations, l'Heure espagnole from Maurice Ravel and Le Secret de Suzanne from Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.

I attended with my friend and former office mate at a previous job and we had a delightful time.

L'Heure espagnole (The Spanish Hour) begins with the clockmaker Torquemada (Yikes! Wasn't that the name of the chief torturer of the Spanish Inquisition?!) in his shop, preparing for his weekly task of resetting all of the town's clocks. His wife, it seems, had something to do with his landing that job, and uses the weekly appointment as a time to meet her lover! Just to spoil things, a muleteer arrives, hoping to have his watch fixed, and agrees to wait until the clock maker returns.

Wait?! But what will the wife do with her lover in the presence of the muleteer? Well the muleteer comes in handy as a means to carry clock (and concealed lovers) up and down the stairs, and then finally as the better alternative between a poet who is too enamoured of his own words to move to the action craved by the clockmaker's wife and the banker who is, after all, unable to emerge from the clock in which he is hidden to get to any action of his own. And the clockmaker even manages to sell the two clocks in question to their unfortunate concealed would-be lovers! Everyone is happy, especially the wife and the muleteer, and the clockmaker is none the wiser.

Le Secret de Suzanne (Suzanne's Secret) is all about a new wife with an unfortunate habit. While her husband suspects that she is having an affair — and with a smoker, no less — it turns out that she is secretly smoking. When the secret comes out, the solution is like a dream from a tobacco company's boardroom: she doesn't need to quit, as they can smoke together!

This second one was the more enjoyable, if only for the rather lighter and livelier music and the fabulous comic acting of the guy playing the couple's maid, Santa. We killed ourselves laughing all the way through.

And my last opera of the season, Madame Butterfly, is coming up in June.

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