Photo: Bruce Zinger/ Peggy Kriha Dye as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo

I may get shot for this, but I'm gonna 'fess up to something: I am probably the only person in Canada who isn't a Measha Brueggergosman fan. OK--I've said it. So while I was looking forward to Opera Atelier's Idomeneo the other night, I wasn't all aflap with Measha Madness myself. I tend to be more interested in (a) mezzo soprani and (b) the less celebrity-status singers. But I had a metanoia of sorts.

First, her hair won me over. Seriously. I like funky and this hair and makeup decision for a Mozart opera was definitely up my alley. I also felt this was a wonderful genre for Ms. B. I hadn't been hooked by her voice before (please: no death threats made up of cut-out little letters!). However, her ardent character still contained the performer and I enjoyed the result. Her vocal style and acting was true to Opera Atelier's texture. So. Measha Madness 30,000,001 : Measha Naysayers 0.

I was excited about seeing Michael Maniaci return to OA. You'd think there'd be a disconnect between a male soprano playing the protagonist lover (Idamante), but his performance was à la OA too (yes, that improper French elision was intentional) and he certainly delivered. As my companion said, 'He's just so operatic looking!'. Not quite sure what that means, but I agree with it.

As usual, this company pulled out all the stops in visuals. Their trompe l'oeil backdrops were stunning, including an incredibly faithfully rendered oculus in the main hall set. I do hope in future we can diverge from the somewhat predictable billowing fabric for waves and go somewhere with their usual inventiveness and daring. There were other production elements that had different seams than usual, but the Talent with the Trident made one overlook these changes! I personally found Kresimir Spicer's Idomeneo not to be sympatico with the company's feel. I felt his personalized acting and non-stylized movements incongruent with the rest of the cast and the production. But that's me just asking for more poison pen letters, I guess....

One final note: why do people deem it acceptable to talk through overtures and beyond??? Does the orchestra not 'count'? If anyone knows where I can find a well-behaved audience, please advise me because Torontonians are extremely rude; I find this at all the arts events I attend. If you do know of a performer-friendly audience, let's transport them over to the Elgin, because Opera Atelier (amongst other artists) deserves respect and the highest regard. Shame on ignorant audiences! They distract the rest of us who are there to take in world-class art.

Kudos to the artists led by artistic directors Marshall Pynkoski and Jeanette Zingg who once again are offering a sumptuous feast for the heart, mind and soul. Idomeneo continues to May 3rd.


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