Monday, April 25, 2011

Eye Candy at the Opera: Opera Atelier's La Clemenza di Tito

Photo: Bruce Zinger / Artists: Michael Maniaci as Sesto; Curtis Sullivan as Publio; Kresimir Spicer as Emperor Tito; Measha Brueggergosman as Vitellia; Mireille Lebel as Annio and Mireille Asselin as Servillia along with Artists of Atelier Ballet
As a visual artist, I drink with my eyes so to speak. There have been times when I've attended an opera  and had to close my eyes because of the discontinuity between what I see on stage and what I'm listening to. But my eyes were wide open at Friday's opening night performance of Opera Atelier's La Clemenza di Tito and rarely have I enjoyed an opera so completely.

Designer Gerard Gauci created exquisite backdrops that created grand illusions of Imperial Rome in 79 AD as it might have been imagined by artists in Mozart's time. His beautiful costumes also bridged the two periods with a harmonious colour palette and silhouettes evocative of the 18th century. I was especially captivated by Measha Brueggergosman's black gown trimmed with a jaunty striped bow. The gown was lined in red, perhaps referencing her blood-thirsty quest for revenge. She also carried a lace shawl that appeared to be attached to a ring and which magnified every hand gesture. (I think I need one of those!) 

With Opera Atelier's strong cast of talented vocalists, I didn't need to read the subtitles to follow this complicated tale of revenge and redemption. With spectacular voices, each cast member conveyed the emotion of their character with both grace and vigor. But what was a particular treat was to hear the male soprano Michael Maniaci sing the role of Sesto.  I had never heard a man sing in this range and it was a rare gift.

There are four performances left at the Elgin Theatre on April 26, 27 and 30 and May 1, 2011. For more information, visit the Opera Atelier website.

P.S. Although I was invited to attend as media, I bought my own tickets just in case I did not want to write about it. But this production was so extraordinary that I just could not keep it to myself.