Gordon Hawkins, the Renato of this production, is the possessor of one of the best baritone voices that I have heard personally on stage since the time of Leonard Warren, and although he does not sound precisely like Warren, there is a plangent note in his voice that stands him in good stead for all the great baritone roles that Verdi wrote, not to mention works of other composers. It was a real pleasure both to hear him and to watch him.
Starting with Valerian Ruminski as Count Horn and Alexandre Silvestre as Count Ribbing, who were wonderfully effective in act two the balance of the comprimario singers were excellent, as was the chorus. The orchestra under the direction of Gregory Vadja played beautifully, especially in the areas where the orchestration employs solo instruments. A special mention is necessary for the first-chair cellist, who played so beautifully during the introduction to Feubels second-act aria.
All in all, the performance was a great success, and the fine cast was matched -- for the most part -- by a fine set. At the end, the audience stayed to applaud and to rise to their feet during the applause to express their appreciation for an opera well sung.
There are further performances Sept. 26 than 29 and Oct. 1 and 4, all at night. Tickets and information are available at area code 514-985-2258.
I attended an invitational afternoon concert by members of the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble whose intention was to give the audience a preview of some of the highlights of the upcoming season. From the sounds of what I heard, Heidi and says are in for the usual high-standard performances that are one of the hallmarks of this group ... I listened in two parts are two rehearsals with the two new courses recently formed by the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association.