As has become the norm, UoT Opera opened their concert season with a free “preview” of their spring show in the RBA at noon today. It was a series of Mozart scenes which were given semi-staged today but will, in the fullness of time, form a staged and costumed performance. It’s always an interesting event because it’s so early in the academic year. It’s the first chance to try and talent spot and see how things develop over the rest of the cycle. As such, it’s often a bit rough but today really wasn’t. It was a surprisingly high quality across the board effort which augurs well. That said, it was all ensembles and nobody was asked to pull out vocal fireworks so maybe not the sternest test imaginable which makes star picking that bit trickier.
There were a lot of singers on show. Far too many to namecheck all of them. The full program is here. So, what follows is a rather subjective set of impressions. We saw most of the two tenors; Daevyd Pepper and Matthew Dalen. This, of course, because there are many tenor roles and few tenors. Both are very competent and have pleasant voices. We’ll see about “star quality”. The lower men were interesting. There was one genuine bass; Brendan Friesen and a bass-baritone; Andrew Adridge who may be headed that way. He sang some Don Giovanni today but it sounded as though it sat a bit high for him and there’s a gravelly (in a good way) quality to his voice that suggests maybe he could sing lower. He’s a big, athletic looking chap too and if he really has the low notes could be quite exciting. Adam Harris is a much more conventional baritone but sounded pretty good both times we heard him.
It’s not always easy in Mozart to tell who is really a mezzo and who a soprano but the one obvious mezzo who stood out was Camille Rogers. She sang a lovely Ah perdona with Sarah Amelard’s Servilia. The blend of voices was really nice here. I guess Simona Genga is a mezzo too but very much of the second soprano type. She sounded good as Third Lady in the padlock scene and fine as Dorabella. The “send off” trio was very nicely done along with Brittany Cann and Joel Allison. I didn’t really see enough of any of the other ladies to form strong impressions (so many sopranos, so little time) and while it was all really rather good I wasn’t being blown away. It’s going to be interesting to see how things develop though.
Piano duties were shared by Sandra Horst, Susan Black and Perri Lo while Michael Patrick Albano provided linking commentary and anecdotes about Mozart’s skull.
Photocredit: Tanner Davies