Opera York's La Traviata
By Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Any young artistic organisation has to endeavour a widening of venues, and for
Opera York the next logical step was to take concerts from the amiable
dinner theatre situation to a real theatre. This of cause brings with it a
whole new set of challenges, which in this case were met very well.
Director Mark DuBois and his assisting wife Maria have a splendid grasp on
the needs and possibilities of this company and are so very ably supported
by the enthusiastic board of directors and numerous volunteers in presenting
fresh ways to introduce audiences of all ages to the joys of operatic music.
With very few rehearsals a concert version of Verdi’s La
Traviata was presented in the Markham Theatre for the Performing Arts, thus
bringing opera for the first time to Markham.
intimate theatre filled up quite nicely right up to the last second, when
dozens of people still purchased tickets at the door. The classic layout,
including balconies and boxes, afforded everyone top choice seats for
optimum visual and sound pleasure. After Mark DuBois had warmed up the 20
members strong Opera York Orchestra with an overture the tragic story of
Violetta unfolded with Kinga Mitrovska in the lead.
a doubt this role of Violetta is one of the most demanding parts for any
soprano, asking for great strength and pianissimos, incredible heights and
mellow lows, coloratura bravado and tender, wispy tones. A vast gamut of
emotion has to be portrayed and made
believable or the story of Violetta becomes a soap opera. All this and more
was delivered with extraordinary clarity by Ms. Mitrovska, resplendent in
two different gowns, sounding better than ever. She prefers a full
production to a concert version, and honestly so do
we, but this concert brought the history of every day life at the time of Verdi
to life, creating an understanding of loss as was suffered often then. Mark
DuBois pointed this out with well-chosen words between the first and second
act, making the concert again an enjoyable learning experience.
Artistic Director he always looks for ways to educate us further and enhance
the future of musical theatre in Canada, in schools for young students, in
concerts for seniors and the general public. His understanding and
experience of/in this field is amazingly broad; but what is most admirable
about Mr. DuBois is his desire to help other artists to succeed. This was so
very apparent again on the evening of this concert.
DeSotto is the founder of Canada’s famous Quartetto Gelato, but not that
well known for his considerable abilities as a tenor. He learned the part of
Alfredo on the strength that Mark DuBois thought he could do it. And he did,
and very well indeed. His voice is smooth and reaches great heights
effortlessly. He played to his Violetta with meticulous attention and potent
passion. If there was ever any doubt about DeSotto’s voice, let it be known
that he can sing!
Igor Emilianov was admired, as he is everywhere when he
performs, for his warm and expressive baritone. He worked totally without
sheet music, being very familiar with the part of Giorgio. He had sung the
role recently with the New Israel Opera.
The chorus was made up of seven soloists, some of whom are
quite new to their profession and others bring considerable experience to
the stage. Lauren Segal as Flora, Amber Bishop as Annina, Derrick Paul
Miller as Gastone and Guiseppe, Algirdas Kynas as Doctor Grenvil and the
Marquis d’Obigny, Jay Stephenson as Baron Duphol, filled out the musical
storyline as well as singing chorus together with Carole Borsu and Rachel
Snow. There really is nothing quite as rich as a chorus made up of soloists.
to that the desire to succeed of all participants, their verve and
enthusiasm, their love for the craft and Mark DuBois’ supportive conducting
and directing and everyone comes away a winner.
Special mention must be made of the concertmaster Valerie
Sylvester and of the fact that Director and Co-Founder of Opera York, Philip
Trow, was playing the trombone. Together with the rest of the orchestra,
under the baton of Maestro DuBois, they made beautiful music.
We can hardly wait for the next offering. Stay tuned for The
Barber of Seville in February. For more information go to