Young People's Opera Society of BC
The King Who Wouldn't Sing
Dates 4-8 July 2007 Venue Surrey Arts Centre (Mainstage), Surrey,
King Dan Christie Jester Michael Broder Aryanna Katherine Dela Cruz Theodore Frankie Cena Amelia Baillie Vickers Whatif Ed Milaney Yeahbut Patti Palm Mother Adrienne Joiner Mayor Jason Harder Mayor's Wife Juliana Truesdell
Composer, Music Director & Conductor George Austin Artistic Director, Lighting Design & Librettist Patricia Dahlquist Co-Writer & Composer Juliana Truesdell Choreographers Tracy Dekker & Rori Bruschinsky Costume Design Melanie Minty
Reviewer Ed Farolan
This is a world premiere of an original children's opera, something truly unique in British Columbia. This newly founded society has not only done a world premiere of an original work but has created a new genre of opera here in BC: operas for children.
I applaud Artistic Director Patricia Dahlquist for coming up with such an original concept, and I hope that this society will continue on with more original works and performances. In her message, Executive Director Barbara Gould looks forward to a new production, a tour of BC in 2010, and an Opera School in Surrey in 2016. There is so much talent in this group: Librettist Dahlquist who has performed professionally for over 40 years; Composer and Music Director George Austin, founder of the Richond Community Orchestra; Juliana Truesdell, a professional singer now singing with the Uptown Girls Trio; and many up and coming singers from the younger generation--Katherine Dela Cruz, Frankie Cena and Baillie Vickers.
The two and a half hour opera was very entertaining. There was a lot of audience participation, as the actors would, as expected, talk to the children in the audience and make them sing with them. Although not really an opera, more so an operetta, as operas normally have no speaking lines, the company delivered a truly delightful performance.
The songs and dances were well rehearsed, and although I would have wanted the younger singers to project more, they sang beautifully. These days, there is so much new technology such as remote microphones attached to the singers' heads to hear the songs better, and that crossed my mind as I was listening to the words of Dela Cruz, Vickers and Cena who weren't projecting their songs well. Sometimes the orchestra was too loud and it drowned their singing voices. I noticed microphones atop the stage, but they weren't magnifying the sounds enough.
The adult singers projected more and were quite good. Dan Christie has a beautiful tenor voice; so does Michael Broder whose voice is almost Pavarotti-like. Adrienne Joiner has a strong and clear voice as well as Juliana Truesdell's. The female chorus (Julia Fox, Carmen Gaisford, Barbara Jackson, Alicia Kee, Terrelle Klose, Karly Lambert, and Angela Vickers) together with Jason Harder (the Mayor) and the men's chorus (Barrie Mills, Arne Larsen, Luke Branson, Stephen Rusch, Peter Scott and Peter Silnn) were well-prepared and sang energetically. The Youth Chorus (Colleeen Blair, Tristan Zarin, Dodi Barrilec, Jakia Christie, Ashley Deslauriers, Ayla Hunter, Monica Samson, Jenn Slinn, Alexis Vickers) acted quite professionally.
Ed Milaney and Patti Palm provided a lot of fun and slapstick, talking with the younger kids in the audience who were answering back. The costumes and sets giving that fairyland/cartoon effect were very effective, and the timing for blackouts in-between scenes was well executed. The theme of "sing and dance for peace" was quite charming.
I hope the society's plans of bringing this show on tour here in BC be sooner, in fact, until the end of this summer, if possible, as the children are not yet in school, rather than 2010, especially now that the opera is still fresh in their minds, and it should continue performing on weekends while preparing for a new opera.
© 2007 Ed Farolan