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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Il Trovatore

Hiromi Omura (photo credit: Yves Renaud)

Bugs clears the aria
The Remount has arrived
By Richard Burnett
Montreal audiences have been clammering for a remount of  Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) since it was last produced by L’Opéra de Montréal way back in 1998. Even amateur opera fans will recognize many of the songs in Giuseppe Verdi’s classic opera which, since its debut in 1853, has been known as the opera with hits. 
Thus the need for Il Trovatore to be sung by an ensemble of four top-notch leads. So L’Opéra de Montréal evidently spent much of their budget hiring four terrific singers: Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl as the Count di Luna, Italian mezzo Laura Brioli as Azucena, Korean tenor Dongwin Shin as Manrico (and his golden voice really warmed up in the second half), and Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura, making her debut in the role of Leonora.
While the music and vocals were top notch, I didn’t care much for the minimalist – even rudimentary– sets...

Omura – after her critically-acclaimed Montreal performances in Madama Butterfly (2008) and Simon Boccanegra (2010) – told The Charlebois Post last week that for many years all the opera world wanted her to sing was Madama Butterfly. “That’s all they asked of me,” Omura said. “But the opera world is changing. Here I am in Montreal playing Leonora in Il Trovatore.”
Her solid performance as Leonora should open more doors for Omura.
As for Italian conductor Francesco Maria Colombo, he led the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal to loud applause while the OdM Chorus sounded really quite good. None of their voices or those of the principal cast were ever drowned out by the orchestra.
While the music and vocals were top notch, I didn’t care much for the minimalist – even rudimentary– sets which were recycled from the 1998 production. There are budgets to respect, I understand, but combined with this production’s pendantic staging and dark lighting, there wasn’t very much to get excited about visually. 
But despite the sets and staging, and the fact there wasn’t one big goosepimple-inducing vocal moment, the audience went home happy. Clearly, when it comes to Verdi’s Il Trovatore, you can’t go wrong if you stick to the script.
L’Opera de Montreal’s production of Guiseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Montreal’s Place des Arts continues on January 26 and 28. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. nightly. Surf to www.operademontreal.com for more info and tickets

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