Double-bill of Comic Operas

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The faculty of music brought music fans a “delightful double-bill” of Canadian comic operas this past weekend. Audiences were treated to three showings on Friday and Saturday evenings with a Sunday matinee.

The double-bill was a meticulously polished performance that highlighted the talent of students involved. Leslie De’Ath, musical director for the performances, touched upon the preparation and final product of the shows, saying, “They had enough rehearsal time because they were shorter shows, it was only an hour and a quarter long. The kids knew it really well, it held together very nicely.”

The first performance, Gisela in her Bathtub, was a short opera about a young lady reading a ninth century Viking novel. Most of the comedy surfaced from the clever interactions between modern-day Gisela and the Vikings, who acted out and sung what she was reading.

This performance was simple in plot and setting, but difficult in vocals. The female lead Helga, played by Karina Bray for the Sunday show, was challenged with a tough vocal score but delivered a flawless performance. Giancarlo Lisi, playing Olaf as the male lead, was overshadowed vocally by Bray, but compensated with excellent acting and expression.

Gisela in her Bathtub proved to be a simple but clever performance that balanced out its stale background plot by effectively using contemporary comedy and a dynamic musical score.

The second show, City Workers in Love, stole the double-bill and emerged as a multi-leveled story with well-written humour and a complex musical score. What started as a seemingly foolish tale of incompetent workers eventually turned into a comedic love story punctuated brilliantly by its colourful cast.

De’Ath spoke about how complex a performance City Workers in Love turned out to be, saying, “[City Workers in Love] was longer, but it was also much more difficult musically with a lot of ensemble singing, which takes much longer to rehearse.” The cast came together very well to create this complex piece that typically had 10-15 people on the stage at a time.

Romeo, played by Adam Dyjach, excelled at both singing and acting and made for a strong lead character. Dyjach managed to encapsulate the tale of the underdog love story meanwhile mastering comedic timing and consistently hitting difficult notes. Such notes, explained De’Ath, “Compare with demands of traditional opera.”

Dyjach, surrounded by an animated ensemble cast perfectly capable of hitting each note, finally showcased the performance they had spent so much time perfecting. “Basically the whole winter term we spend rehearsing and blocking,” Dyjach explained. “Reading week we spend here – we don’t go home for holidays.”

Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of WLU appeared for a well-executed singing and acting cameo in City Workers of Love’s Sunday showing, displaying his lesser-known talents.

When asked about his singing Blouw responded bashfully, “I enjoy singing in the bathtub.” The music faculty must know something the majority of students do not, as it was their doing that had him take part. “I was invited to participate and I said sure,” said Laurier’s president.

Previous shows during the weekend featured cameos by Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran and Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr.

In sum, the faculty of music put on a performance worthy of a much greater charge than the free entrance for WLU students. The double-bill showcased the talent and hard-work of many students and professors in the faculty. Cleverly written, brilliantly sung, filled with elements of traditional comedy and opera topped off with a local twist, the performance put on by WLU’s vocal students was extremely impressive.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publication date.

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