Kriha Dye is simply astonishing as Armide. Not only does she (once again) display a brilliant voice, bursting with technical ability, she uses her vocal and dramatic skills to develop her character in fascinating ways. At the outset, she’s a fierce warrior-sorceress, motivated only by the compulsion to conquer her nemesis, Renaud. Gradually, she begins to unravel. Love and hate struggle within her, and as she becomes more human, warmth and fragility emerge.
As Renaud, Ainsworth’s character is less complex, for most of the opera. He readily inhabits his role as a bold and confident hero, and his clear and supple tenor voice carries him through the piece in fine style. Yet in the final scene, even he is affected by the powerful emotions unleashed around him, and he leaves the stage a changed man.
Sopranos Carla Hutanen and Meghan Lindsay reprise their multifaceted 2012 performances as Phénice/Lucinde and Sidonie/Nymphe des eaux, respectively, with flair and grace. In the pit, music director David Fallis holds the Tafelmusik Orchestra to a brisk and busy schedule, and his players respond with a spirited performance. Lajeunesse Zingg’s choreography is delightful, and the OA Chorus is yet another musical pleasure.
In short, this Armide is no complacent “re-run” of a previous triumph. This production is every bit as exciting as it was in its 2012 incarnation – and it’s probably because the company is using many of the same singers as it did three years ago.
Before the curtain, Pynkoski stepped forward to proudly announce that OA’s Armide will tour to the Royal Theatre at Versailles in November. For many years, Opera Atelier was like Red Rose Tea: “Only in Canada you say? Pity!” But these days the company is getting around more, with recent appearances at La Scala, the Salzburg Festival and the Glimmerglass Opera at Cooperstown, New York. Congratulations, Opera Atelier: 30 years of hard work have paid off!
© Colin Eatock 2015