Just as surely a sign of autumn as is the incipient red and gold of the leaves in our forests that are already in view along I-89 when one heads toward the border, is the opening of the 2007-2008 LOp鲡 de Montr顬's season at Place des Arts. I turned my car Montr顬-ward this last weekend to attend the opening production of Giuseppe Verdi's A Masked Ball on Saturday evening, Sept. 20. It was a brilliant beginning with which to launch their new season.
Just moments before the curtain rose on the first act, an announcement was made to the effect that tenor Richard Margison, the Swedish king, Gustavus III, was indisposed but that he would sing anyway.
Indeed, as the evening unfolded it was amply evident that he did not have the usual resilience and fluidity in his voice. In addition, he also marked lines here and there (marking refers to the rehearsal habit of singing parts of the high tessitura in arias a single octave down), but only once lost control for a split second of his voice. Otherwise it was a well-rounded performance, including the acting.
As his wife, Manon Feubel produced tones that were both beautiful and that carried over the orchestra. Only in her first aria was there a stretch of about twenty measures or so were her voice sounded a bit uneven, but that was the only instance in the whole opera where any technical problems were in evidence. It was a splendid performance and well acted. Oscar the page, a pants role for coloratura soprano, was delightfully sung by Pascale Beaudin. She also stressed the comedy of the part. The Ulrica of Marianne Cornetti was a bit of a character, just as it was supposed to be. She has a rich voice with a good low range that she used to good effect.