Murder and madness lurk in COC double bill – Toronto Star

Bass John Relyea is a duke with a shadowy history. Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo is a madwoman in an insane asylum.

The native Torontonians will sing the challenging lead roles in Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung, a Canadian Opera Company double bill that brought the company international acclaim when it premiered in 1993.

The artistic vision of director Robert Lepage will be seen for the fourth time by Toronto audiences from May 6 to 23 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

These two 20th-century operas by groundbreaking composers Bela Bartok and Arnold Schoenberg are frequently paired on double bills as they mine common themes of madness, murder, love and the examination of the inner psyche. They also present enormous challenges to the singers who star in them.

The hour-long Bluebeard’s Castle has only two characters, Bluebeard (Relyea) and his new bride Judith, being played by Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova in her premiere with the COC.

Erwartung is only half an hour in length, but The Woman (Szabo) is the only singer.

We compare the two operas.

The singers

Relyea: He now lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two sons but grew up in the Beaches playing guitar in a rock band with a name so embarrassing he doesn’t want it published. He first appeared with the COC in Tales of Hoffman in 2012.

Szabo: She is a graduate of the COC’s Ensemble Studio and has remained in Toronto with her husband and daughter. She has appeared in the 2006 Ring Cycle, 2010’s Idomeneo and 2012’s Love From Afar for the COC.

(Excerpt) Article by: (Toronto Star), Music, Published on Wed May 06 2015

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