reviewed by Paula Citron
Diamond Anniversary Concert
Canadian Opera Company
Conducted by Johannes Debus
Starring Ramón Vargas, John Treleaven and Russell Braun
At the Four Seasons Centre
The COC’s 60th anniversary concert featured four stars – three guest singers and the orchestra under music director Johannes Debus.
Debus is a meticulous conductor of the German school, demanding careful modulation, clear articulation, and crisp discipline. Emotions soar as the composers intended, and his relationship to the singer is an expressive symbiosis.
Mexican Ramón Vargas is the leading lyric tenor of today and his limpid, sweet, warm voice and magnificent phrasing proved that in selections from Gounod and Berlioz. Baritone Russell Braun, representing the home team, is a prodigiously talented acting singer with a honey-coated manly sound.
English heldentenor John Treleaven’s voice has a distinctive vibrato. He’s a Wagnerian of the old school, not so much a beauty in sound, as a keen intelligence in interpreting text.
This was not a “Nessun Dorma” gala. The first half French repertoire was as close to bonbons as we were going to get. The Wagner second half was both a serious sing and serious playing.