19 May 2013
Panting, I was in my seat in enough time to read the synopsis before the lights went down and the curtain went up. I was still shaken enough, however, that the name of the substitute tenor did not register with me. I’m left wondering how the bed scene with a shirtless des Grieux might have been with Portuguese tenor Bruno Ribeiro (below) who couldn’t make it. As an aside, the substitute, who was apparently filling in on a mere three days’ notice, was excellent. It’s only too bad I can’t seem to find his name on the Opéra de Montréal website!
previous post about using models versus using the actual singers for the promotion. At the top of this post is the actual soprano of this production, Marianne Fiset, and below is the model photo. It seems that the Opéra de Montréal has learned from the controversy and is using the images in parallel, but with somewhat more prominent use of a better thought-out photo of the star. I actually prefer the star’s photo, wearing something other than one of the costumes used, but conveying the feel of the promotional model photo quite well. We will see if next year is parallel imagery or a focus on the stars, but this one was very well done and the Opéra de Montréal deserves kudos for it.
So by the time we get to the end everyone is quite unhappy, except Manon, who is dying in her lover’s arms, so as usual you can’t really be happy and live. But that’s why opera is such a refreshing form of storytelling that compares favourably to our usual Hollywood movie fare.
Barihunks as “opera’s new Golden Boy” and his voice is a joy to listen to.
They seem to paying a good deal of attention to the acting aspects of productions, too, and the comic timing in certain parts of this was most excellent. We had some good laughs and they were intended!
I usually remark, too, how much I want to appropriate the sets of the Opéra de Montréal productions as apartments for myself to live in. This set didn’t so much make me want to live in it, but I started out a little skeptical about the visibly flat trees in many layers that appeared in a number of the acts, but they really grew on me and left me feeling the depth and lushness of the foliage. A lot of the other parts of the sets had a similar “flat, but grew on me” feel, and then the mist at the end was quite good. It must have been a real feat to keep such a good layer of fog around the feet of the singers throughout the last part of Act 5.
Oh, and one other touch that kept amusing me: blowing bubbles in the crowd scene in Act 3. They weren’t intrusive, just little hints of bubbles floating up from various parts of the back of the crowd…and I didn’t see them being blown! It definitely added to ambiance of the chaotic outdoor scene with vendors hawking wares and such. It somehow felt summery.
Now I have to decide if I will renew (probably, and probably soon, so stop calling me!) and if I will expand my little zone by also buying the seat that my friend has decided not to buy for next year. His reason is one that merits some attention, too: there is an inexcusable dearth of women in important positions in these productions. We’re not talking about the performing parts, but roles like Director and Conductor. Far too rarely are these roles filled by women and that ought to be fixed.