based on an actual 1833 event in Perth County, The Last Duel plays with social mores and private passions, though it only sporadically reaches a high theatrical and emotional pitch. The operatic tale begins as a love triangle involving a schoolteacher who dallies with a romantic military man and provokes the jealousy of a tongue-tied law student. When a friend of the soldier's sends a joking note to the student, the friend receives a duelling challenge from the jealous man.Gary Kulesha's pleasant if unexceptional music is singable and easy on the ear, with some nice contrasts of period melodies and the folk song Barbara Allen with Kulesha's own more astringent writing. The libretto by Michael Patrick Albano moves slowly, though, and, as director, Albano paces the piece in too leisurely a manner. Only in encounters involving the three central figures and in the poignant final scene do all the stage elements come together.
In a double-cast student production where the text is admirably easy to understand, Tina Winter as the teacher seeking happiness, Michael Sproule as the dry, stiff student and Colin Ainsworth as the passionate soldier create strong, dramatic characters.JKTHE LAST DUEL by Gary Kulesha and Michael Patrick Albano, with Michael Sproule, Colin Ainsworth and Tina Winter. Presented by the U of T Opera Division at the MacMillan Theatre. November 2-5. $15-$25.