Not only does the fall bring TIFF, cooler weather, and reading under a cozy throw, but our opera and orchestra subscriptions begin. Although I’d been to the Peter Grimes rehearsal a week ago, last evening was the first of our opera series with the opening of Puccini’s La Boheme.
It was a new production by director John Caird and was a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. As he writes in his notes, not all that much happens in the opera, but the juxtaposition of some bald humour and intense sorrow was intoxicating.
There are two casts for this opera, and we heard Italian soprano Grazia Doronzio as Mimi and Canadian Joyce El-Khoury as Musetta, both making their COC debuts. Both captured the essence of their characters, Mimi suffering and stumbling, Musetta flirting and vivacious.
The music is familiar and, apart from some issues with sound balance between the orchestra and the voices and (possibly) a couple of late entries, luscious.
We’ll also be at the opening of Peter Grimes on Saturday which promises to be quite different: music by Britten, a tragic story with little respite, and a more avant-garde design. It was a scheduling fluke that ended us up attending two opening nights, and you don’t always get the best performances, but it’s also nice to see it all come together but still be (a little) on the edge of your seat, knowing that the singers and musicians have been working towards just this moment.
On a side note, it was a crazy day yesterday in terms of logistics of getting to dinner to meet my date and then to the Four Seasons Centre. It required me to change my clothes away from home and I didn’t make the best choice of footwear. I stumbled on the steps down to the subway, shocking some poor 14-year-old boy who put out his hands to help me. Luckily, by some stroke of genius, I had thrown a pair of emergency flats into my bag: you know those little shoes you can buy at the drugstore to get you home from an event when your feet hurt from your high-heeled shoes and (maybe) you’ve had too much to drink. I took off my too-lose wedge sandals and switched into those babies in the subway station and I was good to go! Popped the sandals back on when I got to the opera, and then back in to flats to head home. The sandals are going into my giveaway bag as they now have negative energy and I will be too nervous to wear them ever again. The flats will find a permanent place in my bag.
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