VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presented Mozart’s early opera Lucio Silla yesterday at the St. Lawrence Centre. Inevitably it was in a much reduced version (the original is insanely long) coming in at around two hours and organised into two acts. Tis left the principals with maybe three arias each plus a few ensemble numbers. It was presented off book but with a very minimalist production; piano at the centre of an otherwise empty stage, some atmospheric projections, basic blocking and some sort of hybrid of costume and concert wear. It actually worked rather well. This is very much a “tell” rather than “show” opera and fancy scenic effects weren’t really required.
What stood out was the singing of the principals. Ir was uniformly excellent (and uniformity isn’t always OIC’s strong point). Recitatives were clear and well articulated and each of the five principal soloists presented a stylistically appropriate vocal and physical persona from the powerful, almost stentorian, Silla of Owen McCausland to the birdlike coloratura of the ever reliable Vania Chan as his sister Celia. Holly Chaplin as the exiled Cecilio and Julia MacVicar as his friend Cinna were both accomplished in the works two trouser roles and sang a particularly fine duet together. Amy Moodie, as Giunia, the woman competed for by both Cecilio and Silla, sang with considerable beauty of tone and quite a bit of power. Steven Wang was perfectly adequate in the rather thankless role of Aufidio. “indefatigable” seems like the mot juste for Suzy Smith at the piano. There are a lot of notes to play and she did, really rather beautifully. The two choral numbers were managed nicely too.
It’s an odd opera in some ways. It’s quite a formulaic plot with a contrived ending, though true enough in spirit to the world of the Senatus Populusque Romanus. Guillermo Silva-Marin’s simply presented and much shortened version allowed the audience to experience this little known work of the sixteen year old Mozart in a digestible way. Backed up by first class music making it made for a satisfying afternoon.
No production photography for this one so just a curtain call phot from my phone.