I had planned on giving Opera Atelier’s production of Lully’s Persée a miss but early reviews were positive and, more importantly for me, suggested there was something new and a bit different about the piece this time around. This production has been around since 2000 and was recorded for DVD four years later so I knew pretty much what to expect and to be honest that’s what we got last night. If there were changes, they were very minor. If anything it’s got even camper and I do wonder whether OA is in danger of becoming a sort of parody of itself. And it’s still three hours of OA doing Lully and if that’s your thing you will not be disappointed. If you are expecting anything else you won’t get it.
So, production aside, how were the performances? There was some very good singing, some of it was very stylish, and some that was serviceable. Mireille Asselin is just about ideal as Andromède. She has a sweet tone and excellent diction and manages to convey emotion even in Lully. Peggy Kriha Dye was equally impressive as her rival Mériope and Carla Huhtanen was a winning Cassiope. The men were a bit more of a mixed bag. Vocally the star was probably Lawrence Williford in the relatively minor role of Mercure, singing with beautiful control of line and phrase. Chris Enns was perfectly OK as the hero himself. He has the vocal chops, looks suitably heroic and, crucially, is probably the only local tenor who looks the part, can sing it and is taller than Mireille. The other men were perfectly serviceable but didn’t really catch my attention amongst the leaping, sword fighting and campy Gorgoning. There was also a guest appearance by the dragon that’s been doing duty in The Magic Flute for 20 years, here moonlighting as the sea monster in Act 4. David Fallis and Tafelmusik were in the pit and were predictably reliable.
Bottom line, if you are a fan of Opera Atelier at their most typical you will love this show. If you aren’t, you won’t. There are two more shows at the Elgin Theatre; Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm.