Richard Margison

in concert with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra

Orpheum Theatre - Sunday May 9th, 1999

by Stefan & Giorgia Moraw

Certainly one of the nicest gifts for Mother's Day would have been to bring her to watch Tenor Richard Margison in concert with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra . Not only did they offer a very pleasant musical diversion, but added some spice to the sometimes stiffened up world of Opera.

Mr. Margison revealed himself to be an internationally acclaimed tenor with a flirtatious sense of humor. During his performance he repeatedly interacted with the audience raising big amounts of laughter and many standing ovations. Shortly after the beginning he ripped off his bow-tie and unbuttoned his shirt setting off the mood for the rest of the night. Not mentioning the pendant earing glittering under the spotlights.

The Orchestra was directed by conductor David Agler who, besides being skilled and original in his choice of the musical pieces, was young and good-looking. He surely was the object of most of the winking and smiling going on from the many women in the ‘sala'.

The program itself was rich and diversified. It started off with French composers Chabrier, Duparc, Massenet, and Saint-Saens. The latter raptured the audience with a work from ‘Samson et Dalila', The ‘Danse Bacchanale', picturing the orgiastic dance of the Philistines in celebrating the defeat of Samson.

It then proceeded with two songs from Richard Strauss both composed before he decided to turn to opera. The second part of the program would have been entirely devoted to Italian Opera if not for the peculiar choice to switch over to contemporary composer John Adams. This foxtrot for Orchestra went drastically against the common assumption that music is a harmony of sounds and rhythm. It created an exciting game of dissonances and made classical instruments play notes never heard in the past.

Afterwards, our senses regained their peace through the masterworks of Puccini's Tosca and Turandot which appeared to be Margison's favorites as well. While he seemed to have satisfied the majority of his somewhat over-generous audience who erupted in overwhelming applause and choirs of ‘Bravo, Bravissimo' he also disappointed many of the punctilious kind. Those who kept their eyes closed expecting to receive from him the vocal might of Pavarotti's ‘Nessum Dorma' in his younger and lighter years were kept waiting for the ending that never came. In the end, Margison generously thanked his public with four encores and an unfortunate repeat of the ‘Nessum Dorma'.

All this being said, Mr. Margison is still definitely a great tenor, well deserved of his in-captivated audience. His style and finesse, although at times unorthodox, brought an interesting and humourous flair to the evening. Suffice it to say, he creates his own style of opera, something to be admired.