The Epistle of Q — Chapter Seventy-Four

What music has been in the air this weekend?
Where to begin…well let’s start with today and then I’ll talk about last night.
Today it was Live From the Met and the production of Luisa Miller. As you know even though I’ve become quite a fan of opera in recent years, I’m in the same state as my good friend Sandy who said today: “they talk about the differences between Pucini and Verde and Mozart but I stop at just enjoying the performance”. That’s certainly true about today’s presentation. I had never heard of Luisa Miller but I know Placido Domingo and I love his voice. So when I heard this was an opera that he was singing in, I made sure I got a ticket.

This is a long opera (almost four hours) but unlike Aida which plods along like a caravan crossing the Sahara, Luisa Miller is one action scene after another. And the music is incredible. I’m not going to bore you with the story, which is operatic in scope and texture and tenseness!! Let me just say that the singing was overwhelming at times. The singers all were amazing, and the end almost came too soon. In fact, at lunch afterwards Sandy and I worked on some alternate endings; but, let me leave that for another day. There was not a bad voice in the entire presentation but three were so amazing. Obviously, even though I could be accused of bias, but Placido (now 77) played the father of Luisa with incredible power, passion and operative timing. He loves his craft, and it shows. His voice is still strong and hits all the notes; his body on stage moves as it needs to. The only concession to his age comes during the multiple curtain calls — he no longer bows. But who cares — by that time we all were enthralled with his performance (and the interview with him during intermission was so energetic, so thoughtful and it was so evident that he will be doing something with music until he crossed the Jordan and then he will create new choirs and operas in heaven!!).

His daughter Luisa was played by a woman who so reminds me of a young budding opera singer in the Maritimes (Hannah R). Sonya Yoncheva has quickly become a real star in my opera world. She has expression, she has a voice, and she is great at the intermission interviews. And, she always says hello to her family, friends and fans in Bulgaria. She never seems full of herself, but just wants to share the music, share the drama. Today was another delightful performance and even though she died in the final scene, I was happy that they brought her back to life in time for the curtain call — which went on for ever, and deservedly so.

Her star-crossed love, Rodolfo, is another great young voice on the operatic circuit. Piotr Beczala is from Poland (and he too always says hi to Poland at the intermission interviews). He was amazing again today with his depth of interpretation of the character — he was able to shift moods and attitudes seamlessly and use his incredible range to emphasize key moments in stunning impacts. As Placido, in his younger days, had played this same role, Piotr talked about their collaborative conversations during rehearsal. It was evident that Piotr is not afraid to learn from the masters of his trade and perhaps that is why his star is rising so quickly. Gives us all a reminder — if there is someone nearby who might have something useful to share, don’t be afraid to ask — and then listen.

Needless to say I was exceedingly glad to have gone to the local theatre at 9:30 a.m. today. My brain and my well-being is the much better for it…

Last night was also a musical evening, arranged through the Rotary-Sunrise group (so I had an excellent seat), at the Dream Cafe. The talent, entitled Madison Violet, was very good. There were only two people — two young women — although they played a variety of stringed instruments. Voices were always in sync and blended well in tonality. The genre was kind of folk — but 21st Century in flavour with a hint of blues and even country, with most of it written by the pair themselves. Their energy and their humour kept us very attentive all evening. And the fiddle playing of the one was exceptional — and then we realized why: she’s Ashley MacIssac’s sister… Good old Cape Breton talent… The other young lady grew up in Kincardine and went to the same high school that my Dad attended early in his high school days. The circles in my life just keep popping up. Anyway, this too was an evening for the brain and one’s mental wellness — so, if Madison Violet come by, make sure you take in the show.

And that’s about it for musically inspired enhancement of my life for today!!