The opera audience is weird; at least here in Toronto. While Tristan und Isolde is all but sold out La Clemenza di Tito isn’t doing at all well. The net result is that there are lots of tickets available, discounting has started and all the usual cheap ticket strategies should be in play plus prices have already been cut for the February 11th performance. So for anyone reading who thinks COC is just too expensive here’s your chance to check it out on the cheap.
What do you get for your money? You get one of Mozart’s last operas; a fully mature work which has excited more discussion in the last twelve months in my little corner of the blogosphere than pretty much anything except Don Giovanni and Lohengrin. Why does it do this? Because it combines amazing music with the interpretative depth of a true masterpiece. It is, to quote Peter Sellars, a work “which says more than the authors ever realised”. And in Toronto you can see it in a critically acclaimed production by Christopher Alden.
The cast could hardly be bettered either. The leading exponent of the title role, Michael Schade, heads up a starry cast including powerhouse Keri Alkema as Vitellia and brilliant mezzo Isabel Leonard as Sesto. The cast is rounded out by three exciting young Canadian singers; Wallis Giunta as Annio, Mireille Asselin as Servilia and Robert Gleadow as Publio. Really this is every bit as good, maybe better, than the cast in the MetHD of Clemenza a couple of months ago.
The piece is also being performed by the Ensemble Studio on February 6th. Tickets start at $22 and Rings 4 and 5 are closed. So, $22 gets you a really good seat. This should be really intriguing. It’s a strong cast across the board with the increasingly poised and mature Chris Enns sharing the title role with the less experienced Owen McAusland. Neil Craighead sings Publio, which I think is a great role for one with his excellent diction and dramatic flair. The excellent Rihab Cjhaieb is Sesto and the lovely Claire de Sévigné sings Servilia. Intriguingly diminutive soprano Sasha Djihanian is cast in the role of Annio, usually sung by a mezzo but I can totally see it working given her unusual voice. Most interesting to watch though maybe Ambur Braid’s Vitellia. Ambur is living proff that Youing Artists Programmes don’t just churn out polished but homogenous singers. Her Adele in Fledermaus in the fall wowed audiences with its highly unconventional and highly dramatic portrayal of the part (Lulu meets Johann Strauss!). Expect fireworks here.
So what’s not to like? Nothing! Come and see Clemenza. There are reasons why I shall probably see it three times.