La Clemenza de Tito

LA CLEMENZA DI TITO by Mozart (Opera Atelier). At the Elgin (189 Yonge). To May 1. $33-$166. 416-872-5555. See.

LA CLEMENZA DI TITO by Mozart (Opera Atelier). At the Elgin (189 Yonge). To May 1. $33-$166. 416-872-5555. See listing Rating: NNNN

How appropriate, in the midst of a federal election, to watch a centuries-old opera about a put-upon politician. In Mozart’s La Clemenza Di Tito, Roman Emperor Tito deals with corruption, assassination attempts and sexual shenanigans in an open and sympathetic manner. The closed-off Harper could learn a thing or two.

Opera Atelier’s gorgeous new production adds comic flourishes to this rarely performed opera, which can often be earnest and anticlimactic. (Clemency, let’s face it, doesn’t have the most dramatic potential.)

Director Marshall Pynkoski recognizes some of the work’s outrageous elements, staging it with clarity and encouraging his singing actors to bring out the subtext in Caterino Mazzola’s libretto.

As the spurned Vitellia, Measha Brueggergosman is especially skilled at imbuing her singing with honeyed seduction or acid sarcasm. Male soprano Michael Maniaci is less nuanced as Sesto, Vitellia’s lover (alas, no chemistry there) and avenger, but he’s vocally secure. Best of all is Kresimir Spicer, who bounds across the stage as Tito, delivering his notes in a ringing, heroic tenor and making his conflict believable.

Gerard Gauci’s sumptuous costumes and sets add lots of ambience – especially in the sparkling final act – while David Fallis and the superb Tafelmusik Orchestra shape phrases with care and spontaneity, resulting in a near-Titanic Tito.

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