I caught this on the closing weekend, and was quite looking forward to what was described as a “play with opera”. I love merging and blending forms of performance that might not normally mingle.
Director Marjorie Chen helps the cast elicit beautiful performances, both in the singing and acting, however the overall direction felt muddled. The staging, which required often overlapping time periods evocative of Stoppard’s Arcadia, felt clunky, and the set was indecisively between surrealist and naturalist. The costume design, however, was stunning; with such clear costuming, the stage design could have benefitted from a touch of minimalism, I think.
The story Jani Lauzon mines the script from is intriguing, following a young indigenous opera student attending the RCM, and his exploration of a turn-of-the-century opera about an indigenous woman. The play unveiled some of the beautiful tension that occurs when we view historical work with a contemporary lens, offering the historical characters an opportunity to talk a bit about their intentions, helping the contemporary viewpoint come even more clearly into focus. That said, the script unfortunately came across as heavily education-focused; it could have benefitted from some revision to make the message clearer through less exposition.
I think that in its current form it might make a very fascinating TYA script. Which, to clarify, is not necessarily a bad thing…I just did not get the impression that was the intention.