Observers of the Toronto opera scene will have noted the creeping influence of facial hair in the industry locally. Perhaps it didn’t start with COC General Director Alexander Neef’s intellectually Germanic goatee but who could deny that it had a profound impact. Earlier this week the four tenors of the Ensemble Studio appeared together sporting face rugs in varying stages of development and the scene is replete with other notable beardies. Geoff Sirett, Robert Gleadow, Greg Finney and Alexander Dobson come to mind. It’s almost compulsory, it seems, for baritones. Continue reading
Mozart’s La finta giardiniera is pretty thin stuff. The libretto is dreadful. The fits of madness start before the opera gets going when Count Belfiore tries to murder his fiancée Marchioness Violante. She runs off and becomes a gardener aided by her man-servant Roberto. There’s another gardener, Sarpetta, who is being wooed by Roberto (alias Nardo) and Violante’s (now Sandrina) boss the mayor has a niece, Arminda, who now plans to marry Belfiore to the dismay of her former lover Ramiro. And along the way the mayor, Don Anchise, gets the hots for Sandrina. Throw in a whole lot of confusion about Sandrina/Violante’s identity (because she keeps claiming that she’s not Violante or is just pretending to be Violante depending who she is talking to) and it’s no wonder that everyone goes mad at least once. Frankly the audience has every right to as well. And there’s three hours of this. The music is OK. It’s Mozart at 18 and he’s writing to a formula most of the time. So we get workmanlike but predictable arias and ensembles that only occasionally hint at what is to come in the later operas.