The Arts

Canadian Opera Company – Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande

Canadian Opera Company – Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande featured image

by Paula Citron.
Pelléas et Mélisande
Canadian Opera Company
Composed by Claude Debussy
Libretto by the composer based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1892 tragedy
Directed by Nicholas Muni
Starring Russell Braun, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Pavlo Hunka, Barbara Dever, Richard Wiegold, Alain Coulombe and Erin Fisher
At the Four Seasons Centre until May 24

Debussy’s 1902 opera Pelléas et Mélisande is impressionistic and symbolic by turn. The evocative and exquisite score is all important, and conductor Jan Latham-Koenig is masterful. In the gorgeous acoustics of the new opera house, the notes shimmer with beauty.

The COC has brought back its 2000 production where Dany Lyne’s designs evoke an exotic world of a royal court suspended between despair and death, represented by a bridge in the middle of the set. A problem with Nicholas Muni’s direction is that he ignores key words of the text that need visual components.

As the doomed lovers, Russell Braun and Isabel Bayrakdarian are superb – he passionate, she remote. The excellent cast includes Pavlo Hunka as the suspicious Golaud, Richard Wiegold as the king, Barbara Dever as the mother, Erin Fisher as Golaud’s son, and Alain Coulombe as the doctor.

Musically, the production is a triumph.

Pelléas et Mélisande continues at the Four Seasons Centre until May 24.

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