L'Opera de Montreal

For its second production of the 2008-2009 season, L'OdeM has mounted a production of Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers," the actual physical production coming from San Diego Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.

Sets and costumes were designed by Zandra Rhodes, and took their inspiration from the arts of India both in shape and color. Sometimes this resulted in the human beings in this fairytale being totally engulfed by the sets and the costumes.

It is truly unfortunate that Bizet died so young. He had grown as a musician during that time between "Pearl..." and "Carmen." Take one aspect of his writing, choral music, and in "Pearl fishers" the choral writing looks back to Gounod, especially the "Romeo and Juliet'"score. There are touches of Saint-Sa ns too ("Samson and Delilah"), but when Bizet wrote "Carmen", he wrote exquisite music for the chorus, starting from the first notes of the opera to the cigarette chorus, and he wrote ensemble music that represents total genius.

The singer's in the performance that I saw Nov. 5 was satisfactory, totally so, but it seldom rose above the pedestrian. One of the exceptions was the Zurga of baritone Phillip Addis sang beautifully and acted well. Karina Chauvin, soprano, sang the part of Le la. She knows the role well enough that she could extemporize and shade her part freely. Hers was an exemplary performance. Tenor Antonio Figueroa is quite lightweight as tenors go, but he uses his voice admirably well.

Fr d ric Chaslin conducted a reasonably tight reading of the score, and as mentioned before, as stage sets sometimes helped but sometimes hindered the reading of the heavily-edited. score. There is a final performance on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. at Place des Arts.

UVM's Royall Tyler Theatre

Under the direction of Gregory Ramos and music direction of Tom Cleary, the Department of Theatre at UVM presented their second of three plays, Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret", which in turn was based on a play which in turn was base Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Diaries

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