Opera Stooges

BLUEBEARD by Jacques Offenbach, English dialogue and direction by Michael Patrick Albano, with Colin Ainsworth, Ariana Chris, Jason Hales, Helene.


BLUEBEARD by Jacques Offenbach, English dialogue and direction by Michael Patrick Albano, with Colin Ainsworth, Ariana Chris, Jason Hales, Helene Couture, Xin Wang, Jason Lamont and Jesse Clark. Presented by the Opera Division, U of T Faculty of Music, at Macmillan Theatre (80 Queen’s Park). March 15 and 16 at 8 pm. $25, stu/srs $15. 416-978-3744. Rating: NN Rating: NN

there’s a world of difference be-tween Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, a frequently revived Canadian Opera production, and Jacques Offenbach’s opera-bouffe Bluebeard, here offered in a double-cast student version by the U of T’s Opera Division. The contrasts are tonal, both in terms of 20th- versus 19th-century music, and in the seriousness of the Bartok versus the comedy of the Offenbach.Offenbach’s piece is rarely heard today, but it’s just as irreverent as his better-known Orpheus In The Underworld. It revolves around Bluebeard’s sixth wife, an outrageous flirt who discovers that his five other wives aren’t dead, but drugged, and rallies them to rebel against the happily philandering widower.

Director Michael Patrick Albano keeps the lyrics in French (with surtitles) and translates the spoken dialogue, using a narrator to move the story along.

But his heavy-handed lines are cumbersome rather than funny, and the humour here has more of the Three Stooges about it than the original’s light satire involving lost children, disguised princes and mock gypsies.

Still, the music has its charms, especially when sung — and acted — by Colin Ainsworth, a fine lyric tenor, in the title role, and Ariana Chris as his steel-willed latest wife. She has a strong vocal top and a delightful sense of comedy. jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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