xOpera Mariposa
Puccini's Suor Angelica

Dates and Venue 17, 18, 24 & 25 October 2014, 7:30pm | Marpole United Church, 1296 W. 67th Ave, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This is a short opera, around 55 minutes, of Puccini's compelling tale of loss and redemption. Stage director Sergio Augusto Flores sets the opera during World War II and in the programme notes, he states: "The setting highlights the fact that no matter how you try to retreat from the world, chaos and struggle are ever present." Basically, from what he says, any adaptation could be made of this opera even today in the midst of wars, as Flores' point is that this opera is universal and can be set in any war situation.

To fill in a two-hour slot, the first part of the programme featured popular arias from Verdi, Mascagni, Donizetti and Puccini. I liked Thomas Lamont's interpretation of 'Una furtiva lagrima'. I also enjoyed Robin Eder-Warren's 'Quando men vo', but last but not least, the difficult and truly operatic rendition of 'Sempre libera' by Kathryn Nickford.

The second half, the main attraction, featured the strong and powerful voice of contralto Bonnie Dodds (The Princess), and the flawless fluidity in the voice of soprano Jacqueline Ko (Suor Angelica). The other singers (soprano Mega Bryden, soprano Christina Dennehy, soprano Trudy Chalmers, soprano Julia Fox, mezzo-soprano Emily Garrison, baritone Christopher Hall, soprano Emily Houston, soprano Irina Kim, soprano Pamela Morgan, soprano Merryn Myrtle, soprano Camilla Shi, soprano Amy Steggles, soprano Wendy Wade-Maxwell and soprano Jessica Wright) also blended in very well, supporting these two main characters. There were non-singing roles for The General (Daniel Lim), the child (Julian Nobles) and soldier (Vladimir Zaric).

The singers were accompanied by only a piano in the skillful hands of Angus Kellett, and conducted by Music director Campbell McLeod. Opera Mariposa is run by young artists committed to creating a stage for emerging talent. There was a lot of talent from these young singers and I'm sure we'll see them one day singing with professional companies like Vancouver Opera.

© 2014 Ed Farolan