Vancouver Opera recently ended their run of the third opera in the 2014 -2015 season. Living up to its reputation of being one of Canada’s finest opera companies, its production of Die Fledermaus was absolutely brilliant. It was a night filled with lavish sets and costumes, excellent singing, and clever dialogue that was well-adapted to suit the audience.
Left: Tenor Roger Honeywell (Eisenstein), Right: Soprano Suzanne Rigden (Adele), Photo by Tim Matheson.
The performances of the two leading sopranos, Joyce El-Khoury (Rosalinde) and Suzanne Rigden (Adele) were, in my opinion, the highlights of the opera. Both portrayed their roles exceptionally well, complementing not only their rich and melodic voices, but each other as well.
Left: Soprano Joyce El-Khoury (Rosalinde), Right: Tenor David Pomeroy (Alfred), Photo by Tim Matheson.
Also deserving mention were tenor David Pomeroy (Alfred), baritone Andrew Greenwood (Frank), and Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze (Frosch). Pomeroy encapsulated the essence of a stereotypical Italian tenor with his perfectly accented speaking parts, incredible singing and dramatic acting. Greenwood managed to portray the stern demeanour of a prison warden whilst maintaining the comedic style of the opera. Being an avid fan of traditional Italian opera, I usually find that spoken dialogue is sometimes out of place and interrupts the performance. However, I was pleasantly surprised and captivated by Gaze’s witty humour and impressive command of the stage.
Left to Right: Baritone Andrew Greenwood (Frank), Tenor David Pomeroy (Alfred), Christopher Gaze (Frosch), and Soprano Joyce El-Khoury (Rosalinde), Photo by Tim Matheson.
Leading up to the performance, I was pleased to see that Andrew Greenwood, whom I had seen and sung with in several local productions, would be performing. After the performance, I had the pleasure of getting to know more about his experience in this production and about his performing career:
Now that this production has ended, what would you say you enjoyed most about your role and/or this production of Die Fledermaus? Was this your first time performing in this opera, and if not, how did this compare to your previous experiences?
AG: It was fun and challenging to play a comedic part that focused on more dialogue than singing. My very first full opera performance was in Die Fledermaus as Falke in Dawson Creek. I also sang Act 1 as Eisenstein when I was at the Vancouver Academy of Music.
How does the role of Frank compare to others you have sung professionally?
AG: I usually perform roles that are a bit more dramatic and “meatier” in the singing department.
You probably get this question a lot, but do you find it hard to juggle your day job (as a member of the Vancouver Fire Department) with your rehearsals and out of town performances?
AG: As far as balancing work and performances, I trade shifts with colleagues and schedule holidays around projects.
What do you enjoy most about performing with Vancouver Opera?
AG: Vancouver opera is an incredible company. They work at such an amazingly high level musically and in regards to production values. Everything is taken care of at a high professional level: sets, lighting, costumes, makeup and wigs.
What do you say to people who have never seen an opera to encourage them to give it a try?
AG: As far as those who have not seen an opera, just try it. You may be surprised at the overall visceral effect of hearing this music live; that and the spectacle of live theater with beautiful sets and costumes.
What do you say to budding singers out there about pursuing a career in opera and the arts?
AG: To those pursuing a career in singing I say get into the best schools you can – AVA, Juilliard, and Manhattan School of Music. There are so many singers now and the level is so high that those who make the connections early on that those schools can provide have a distinct advantage. Then get into a good young artist program.
I understand that you have a couple of performances lined up. Could you tell me something about your roles in them?
AG: So coming up I’m singing Don Alfonso in Cosi Fan Tutte and Barnaba in La Gioconda for Calgary Concert Opera, Verdi’s Requiem with tenor Richard Margison for the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, La Traviata highlights for Burnaby Lyric Opera, and an Italian opera concert for City Opera Vancouver.
Thank you Andrew for your time.
For all those interested in watching more of Andrew Greenwood’s performances, be sure to check out these other productions on their respective sites.
Vancouver Opera’s final production of this season will be of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. This is a famous tale of London’s wronged barber, Benjamin Barker, who returns to terrorize his enemies as Sweeney Todd. I expect this production to be quite serious and dramatic, whilst still having moments of dark humour. Considering the fame that this musical has achieved through the 2007 film version, it should be an ideal production for those who would like to experience opera for the first time.
Sweeney Todd will be performed on April 25, 26 and 30, as well as May 1, 2, and 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. For tickets or more information, visit Vancouver Opera’s website: www.vancouveropera.ca or call 604-683-0222.