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A glittering rarity

Alice Busch Theater
07/21/2012 -  & July 29*, 31, August 5, 10, 13, 18, 23, 2012
Jean-Baptiste Lully: Armide
Peggy Kriha Dye (Armide), Colin Ainsworth (Renaud), João Fernandes (Hidraot), Olivier Laquerre (Artémidore/Ubalde), Thomas Cannon (Aronte), Mireille Asselin (Phénice/Lucinde), Megham Lindsay (Sidonie/Water Nymph), Curtis Sullivan (Hatred), Aaron Ferguson (Chevalier), Members of Atelier Ballet
The Glimmerglass Festival Chorus, David Moody (Chorus Master), The Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra, David Fallis (Conductor)
Marshall Pynkoski (Director), Gerard Gauci (Set Designer), Dors Rust D'Eye (Costume Designer), Bonnie Beecher (Lighting), Jeannette Lajeunesse-Zingg (Choreographer), Jennifer Parr (Fight Director)

P. Kriha Dye, C. Ainsworth (© Karli Cadel)

Glimmerglass has an impressive history of presenting 18th century operas, notably those of Handel. This year they have reached back into the 17th century for Jean-Baptiste Lully’s career-crowning work, Armide.

The production was first seen in Opera Atelier’s home base Toronto last April and was reviewed on this website. The cast is identical with the exception of Young Artist Thomas Cannon, who makes the most of the brief but dramatic role of Aronte.

(For details on the production and its performers, please see the earlier review.)

It comes as no surprise that the dazzling production works just fine transferred to the larger stage and clearer acoustic of the Alice Busch Theater. The orchestra and chorus are not the period ensembles employed in Toronto, but under David Fallis they turn out to be more than acceptable. The Glimmerglass Orchestra has a history of accomplished adaptability (a six-member continuo includes pairs of harpsichords and theorbos). The chorus, fresh from its work in Aida, has a grainier tone than the chorus used in Toronto - this is no great flaw.

According to the www.operabase.com this is the only professional production of the work extant. It has already travelled to Versailles; Glimmerglass General Director Francesca Zambello has been astute in securing such a rarity for her festival.

Michael Johnson



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