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December, 2004 - Nr. 12


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KW and Beyond

  by Irena Syrokomla

Irena SyrokomlaOpera Ontario – Don Pasquale by Donizetti

The 10th anniversary season for the Opera Ontario opened with an innovative and surprisingly modernized production of Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti. It is a great example of comic opera buffa written in 1842 and belonging to the bel canto era. It is charming, it is entertaining, however; it does not really have any memorable arias that one would hum while leaving the performance. It does not have great moments of the top soprano or baritone dying on stage or being eaten alive by wild animals. It is difficult to imagine how it could be transformed into a winning production attracting North American audiences. - but David Gately accomplished just that!

Scene from Don Pasguale - Kitchener-Waterloo Opera October 2004

In his version, mid 19th century Italian opera has been transported into a late 19th century Wild West setting complete with cowboys, saloons and mariachi band. The saloon owner, old bachelor Don Pasquale does not approve of his nephew’s choice of love interest and decides that he himself will marry. The selected lady procured by a matchmaker is incidentally no one else but the gutsy Norina, his nephew Ernesto’s beloved. This is a hilarious comedy with a great setting, great costumes and an exceptional cast: baritone Gregory Atkinson in the role of Don Pasquale, Ernesto sung by Stuart Howe, and Dr.Malatesta – an absolutely winning character - is performed by Gregory Dahland, with Laura Whalen as Norina. It is obvious that the entire cast enjoys themselves tremendously and the western elements inserted in this classic Italian piece work exceedingly well. There are partially clothed ladies of the night assisting a cowboy into a bathtub full of whipped-up foam, cactuses growing in the background, Mexican style band playing mandolins (or tambourines – not sure) and very attractive females shooting pistols on stage. Don Pasquale in some instances is addressed as "Mister Pasquale" to the joy of the entire public. It is real fun!

Scene from Don Pasguale - Kitchener-Waterloo Opera October 2004

This western style production has been presented in Arizona, California, Calgary and Edmonton with great success. What a great idea: to bring a classic Italian masterpiece into an environment to which the North American public can relate.

The opera Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart is scheduled for February. It will be sung in German with English sur-titles. In April, Carmen will be on stage in The Centre in the Square, and it may be one of those rare occasions to see it without extensive travel to big cities.

Christmas Season is upon us
in The Centre in the Square.

Handel’s Messiah will be performed by the Menno Singers in The Centre in the Square December 3rd and 4th at 7:30. It is the second of four concerts by this choir under the direction of Peter Nikiforuk. Peter is highly accomplished and well known in the community as an organist, publisher, teacher and choir director. The Menno Singers choir are celebrating their 50th anniversary and have blossomed under his tutelage, - for this occasion they are joined by Mennonite Mass Choir, the KW Symphony and soloists. This is a traditional Christmas season concert and not to be missed -considering the quality of the choir and the surroundings.

Christmas with Brian – that is Brian Jackson, the conductor of KW Pop Series concert, on December 10th and 11th at 8pm and is another event not to be missed. Brian Jackson is exceptionally personable: conducting, playing piano and sharing his memories with the audience. The program is light classic, Tchaikovsky’s music from Sleeping Beauty, Berlin’s White Christmas, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Night Suite and many others. And along with the best loved carols I am sure Brian will surprise the audience with some unexpected impromptu pieces and an encore.

The KW Pops Series has had great success in bringing well-known and much-loved classical pieces to their audiences, and the audience is so appreciative. Scheduled for January is a program called Hot Pops on a Cold Night including Rave, Bizet and some more popular current composers. And the program for concerts continues, too numerous to mention in detail until in April Peter Appleyard will play on his vibraphone. Certainly here is something to which we can look forward.

For the tickets for the opera or either of the concerts call 519-578-1570.
Or visit www.operaontario.com or


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