reviewed by Paula Citron
Canadian Opera Company
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conducted by Gregor Bühl
Directed by Andreas Baesler
Starring Adrianne Pieczonka, Jon Ketilsson, Gidon Saks, Mats Almgren, Virginia Hatfield, Adam Luther and Zdenek Plech
At the Four Seasons Centre until Feb. 24
An inspired vision for staging opera is a great thing. Sometimes, however, a vision can eclipse the emotional centre of the music. The Canadian Opera Company’s new expressionistic production of Beethoven’s Fidelio is well thought out, well sung and well conducted, but misses the tug at the heart strings.
Director Andreas Baesler’s focus is bureaucracy in a 20th century Eastern Bloc state. His set is filled with towering walls of file drawers. An army of clerks come and go in the background. Except for the main characters, everyone is dressed the same. The villain Don Pizarro is over the top. Symbolism is writ large. Baesler’s metaphor is clothes – street clothes flown from on high represent freedom for the prisoners, and clothes represent the earth dug for Florestan’s grave.
When Florestan is saved by the sudden appearance of Don Fernando, someone actually giggled behind me. That is proof of a performance without a soul.
Fidelio continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Feb. 24.