Making things a little different while keeping them the same: such is the essence of life, as well as the art of sustaining interest in the annual Opéra de Montréal Gala. The twist on Sunday afternoon in the Maison symphonique was to stress the 20th century.
Sounds bold on the surface, but much of the repertoire was accessible and American. Half of the 22 selections were in English.
Well, this is not the season for grumbling, and there were certainly highlights. Soprano Marie-Ève Munger won the applause-o-meter award with Glitter and Be Gay from Bernstein’s Candide, as brilliantly (and stratospherically) sung as it was crisply acted. Another young standout was baritone Elliot Madore, who managed to enliven items from Doctor Atomic (John Adams) and Die tote Stadt (Korngold) with fine diction and admirable tonal focus.
Arguably the most interesting selection was the Massenet-style aria Bernard Herrmann wrote for Citizen Kane…
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