MEDEE by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, directed by Marshall Pynkoski, conducted by Hervé Niquet, with Stephanie Novacek, Cyril Auvity, Nathalie Paulin, Alain Coulombe and Olivier Laquerre. Presented by Opera Atelier at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge). November 7 and 9 at 7:30 pm, November 10 at 3 pm. $25-$99, stu/srs rush seats $20. 416-872-5555. Rating: NNN
Don't cross a jealous, vengeful woman whose allies are the powers of hell. That's the lesson Jason learns when he leaves his wife, Medea, in the Greek myth, presented here by baroque specialists Opera Atelier in the sung version by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.The company can't fail with a visually impressive production by costume designer Dora Rust-D'Eye and set designer Gerard Gauci, and with Tafelmusik, under baroque expert Herv Niquet, to give the wonderfully varied score a good reading.
Stephanie Novacek captures Medea's mood swings, from tenderness and love to anger and violence and back again, with Cyril Auvity an attractive but thin-voiced Jason. The best work is by Alain Coulombe as the duplicitous King Creon. He's a real singing actor who uses all the tools at hand to create a memorable character.
Jeannette Zingg's choreography impresses in the first act's battle dance but afterwards is less effective. Too bad Marshall Pynkoski's direction fails to tie the piece together smoothly. He offers a contrast between formal baroque poses for public scenes and looser, more spontaneous movement for private ones, but the emotional centre of the play and its drive toward tragedy need clearer presentation.