UoT’s show Porgi amor consisted of a series of staged and costumed scenes from Mozart operas with linking commentary, all designed by Michael Patrick Albano. The operas ranged from La finta giardiniera to La clemenza di Tito with all the major bases in between covered off. The emphasis was on ensemble numbers and providing opportunities for as many singers as possible so there was a cast of thousands. It was well structured, quite slick and there was some very decent singing. One expects a reasonably high standard from UoT Opera and we got it. As I usually do with this kind of show I’ll refrain from a play-by-play and just talk about a few highlights and do some “talent spotting”.
I think it’s fair to say right now that there’s more to showcase among the men at UoT than the women. It’s one of those things that goes in cycles. Right now they happen to have some strong male singers. Joel Allison, who has been performing rather a lot recently, was sparingly used but impressed as Don Alfonso in an excerpt from Act 1 of Così fan tutte. This also highlighted baritone Adam Harris who was even better as Almaviva in Crudel! perchè finora from Le nozze di Figaro where he produced stylish singing with fine legato. His Susanna, Caitlin McGaughey was pretty decent here too. There was plenty to like in tenor Daevyd Pepper’s multiple appearances. He stood out in the quartet Non ti fidar, o misera from Don Giovanni as well as in excerpts from Idomeneo and the finale of Die Entführung aus dem Serail. It’s kind of a firm tenor, not perhaps as limpidly beautiful as one might ideally like, but he uses it with a very keen musicality and sense of style.
Among the ladies, Brittany Cann and Leanne Kaufmann were pleasing as the Donnas in the Don Giovanni excerpts and I would have liked to see more of Georgia Burashko who seemed quite promising as Idamante in the Idomeneo scene. The stand out though, for me, was soprano Sarah Amelard who impressed in the scene from Il re pastore but really got going as Servilia in Ah perdona from La clemenza di Tito. She still sounds a wee bit raw or unfinished to me but there’ are colours in the voice that really catch one’s attention, an easy and accurate top end and a certain dramatic flair. One to watch I think.
Piano accompaniment was by Sandra Horst and Perri Lo with narration duties shared by Sandra and Michael Patrick Albano.