The Canadian Opera Company (COC) opened the Canadian premiere of Gioachino Rossini‘s opera Maometto on Friday night. The opera stars Luca Pisaroni as Maometto, Leah Crocetto as Anna, Bruce Sledge as Erisso, and Elizabeth DeShong as Calbo.
The production is directed by David Alden with sets and costumes by Jon Morell. The performances are conducted by Harry Bicket.
Maometto II centres around the Ottoman Sultan Maometto’s siege on the Venetian city of Negroponte. Maometto, disguised as a nobleman named Uberto, has fallen in love with Anna, the daughter of Erisso who is the leader of the Venetians.
This production uses a set that takes us back in time to the 15th Century and are wonderful – even depicting pieces of walls missing due to the siege. The set, which is conventional, works well as it allows the audience to focus on the singers, and their very moving portrayals.
The trio of Mr. Pisaroni as Maometto, Ms. Crocetto as Anna, and Ms. DeShong as Calbo were exceptional. All three sang their roles with such commitment and emotion that all three received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the night, as well as the audience applauding along the way (which the composer had intended to avoid when composing the opera.) Ms. Crocetto’ voice would simply fill the hall at times, even when singing on her back or stomach – and with what seemed like such ease.
Mr. Pisaroni is Maometto – his voice and acting abilities provided for a performance that was highly moving, and made it hard at times to not want more time for him to perform. This Maometto is clearly in love with Anna, even after she has helped her father to defeat Maometto in battle. He just cannot cause her harm – and it was obvious.
Ms. DeShong was wonderful in the pants role of Calbo. Not only is Calbo a loyal soldier, willing to sacrifice himself for the cause, but he is also in love with Anna, making for a very complicated love triangle. No wonder Erisso wants Anna to marry him. Even when it looks like Anna has betrayed the Venetians, Ms. DeShong’s portrayal of Calbo allows us not to only to see the love Calbo has for Anna, but very convincingly demonstrates how loyal Anna has been to the Venetians.
Maestro Bicket’s conducting is moving and compelling. The COC Orchestra and Chorus were in full form. They are both supportive of the main cast, but at the same time their own elements – providing for a wonderful compliment. The music is rich, and sublime – and extremely moving.
There are six more performances between now and May 14th. Get out to the Four Seasons to see the opera if you can. You will not be disappointed.