Double deaderil tabarro by Giacomo Puccini and cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. See listings, this page, for details. Rating: NNN
murder. deception. vengeance. They're in the headlines, yes, but they're also in the Canadian Opera Company season opener, a dramatic double bill by two of verismo's most reliable composers.Puccini's Il Tabarro, part of his trilogy of one-acts, emerges as the stronger -- if less flashy -- piece on the bill, richly scored and drenched in moody foreboding in Tom Diamond's production.
Even without hummable arias, the piece is pure music theatre, its love-triangle characters developed gradually, subtly, through textured harmonies and the wonderful play of Kevin Lamotte's light and shadow in Teresa Przybylski's haunting set.
Soprano Eszter Sümegi presents a believable portrait of a city-loving woman trapped in a dead-end existence. Her husband (terrific baritone discovery Yuri Nechaev) is simultaneously sympathetic and menacing.
The "other man" in the scenario is played by tenor Vadim Zaplechny, who's got more to sink his teeth into in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, where he plays a similar role.
Cav is so well constructed and filled with such catchy music -- its famous Intermezzo was even played, bizarrely, during the memorial service for the September 11 victims -- it's impossible to botch.
But here, Przybylski's set confuses, resembling either strawberry icing or the planet Mars, and conductor Richard Bradshaw directs the score with such lethargic reverence that unique mezzo Alina Gurina is left gesticulating too much in the central role.