Genevieve PM Roy
VolponeOpera McGill with the McGill Symphony Orchestra presents: Volpone by John Musto and Mark Campbell (2004).
Opera McGill with the McGill Symphony Orchestra presents: Volpone by John Musto and Mark Campbell (2004).
Last week, I was very happy to be able to attend the Canadian premiere of this hilarious opera, right here in the heart of Montreal.
The opera drew on the style of Commedia dell’ Arte and was based on the play by Ben Jonson (1606). The setting is seventeenth-century Venice and the story takes place over the course of one day.
The play opens at the house of Volpone, a Venetian nobleman. He and his "freeloader / adopted son" Mosca—part slave, part servant, part pawn— gush and swoon over Volpone’s stash of gold. The audience also learns that senior Volpone is a veteran ladies’ man who likes to splurge extravagantly and dreams of escaping with his entire household to Genoa...
Volpone has cumulated a substantial amount of fortune, we learn, through dishonest means: he is an expert con artist who likes to pass as an old man on the brink of death to collect gold tokens of faith from his greedy entourage who aspire to become his heir from his “imminent” passing. The lengths at which his followers will go to become his ONLY heir, (all in the name of greed of course) ensured hilarious moments throughout the performance.
The set, designed by Vincent Lefevre, was functional, but also visually interesting: The actors moved across a rotating, round platform that alternated between Volpone’s bedchamber to a typical Venetian outdoor bridge. Props, such as gold treasures were scarce, but used effectively. The strong point of this production was the amazing stage presence and voices of the entire cast.
The cast of the commedia is traditionally represented by fixed social types or stock characters. McGill’s version of Volpone delivered beautifully, with a range of interesting and eye catching young singers who sung and performed brilliantly on stage and were fully believable in their respective characters; dressed in colorful and imaginative costumes such as the foolish widow who was represented by a raven, a miser judge who was portrayed as a darkly clad vulture and the bevy of feathered judges at the court house whose costumes closely resembled owls. Volpone himself was a fine and cunning looking man with a strong, clear voice, pointy ears and a bushy fox tail.
The opera was performed in English and I am glad to say that the acoustics in Pollack hall was very accommodating to both the singers as well as the McGill Symphony Orchestra. Apart from a few missed endings, both the singers and orchestra complemented each other well and delivered a quality performance. It was also relatively easy to understand the passage of time during the play, as descriptive elements and locations were displayed clearly on the overhead subtitle screen that Opera McGill provided.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Volpone, and I was clearly impressed with the vocal and theatrical prowess of its young and talented cast.
I will be looking forward to future productions of Opera McGill.
“Volpone” music composed by John Musto, libretto composed by Mark Campbell. Patrick Hansen, Director of Opera Studies. Julian Wachner, Conductor.
Performances were held on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1st at 7:30
Also a matinee was held on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2:00 pm
555 Sherbrooke St W
Montreal,QC H3A 1E3
Tickets were :
$30 ($25 for students/seniors)