For the Love of Opera: The Nightingale and other Short Fables

17-18-05-MC-D-0265 – (l-r) Miles Mykkanen as Tenor 1, Owen McCausland as Tenor 2, Conductor Johannes Debus, Bruno Roy as Baritone 1 and  Oleg Tsibulko as Baritone 2 in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, 2018. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Robert Lepage, set designer Carl Fillion, costume designer Mara Gottler and lighting designer Etienne Boucher.  Photo: Michael Cooper

(l-r) Miles Mykkanen as Tenor 1, Owen McCausland as Tenor 2, Conductor Johannes Debus, Bruno Roy as Baritone 1 and Oleg Tsibulko as Baritone 2 in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, 2018.

In the Nightingale, a weary fisherman hears the song of a beautiful nightingale and he immediately forgets his worries. Sitting through this thoroughly enjoyable Canadian Opera Company production is just like that for the audience.

A collage of some of Stravinsky’s pieces, all of which focus on rural life and animals, The Nightingale and other Short Fables is a wonderfully light opera, perfectly suited to first-time operagoers, young people, children and seasoned viewers alike.

It’s a visual treat of a production that incorporates large-scale puppetry, intricate and elaborate shadow play, acrobatics, the entire orchestra on stage and a large pool of water that fills the orchestral pit.

In Robert LePage’s Director’s Note he says (of seeing puppetry used in opera), “puppetry pulled the poetry out of the libretto and the poetic ideas out of the music” and this is exactly what you witness in The Nightingale and Fables.

It’s one to thing to hear an orchestra play, but an entirely different experience in that rare occasion where the audience gets to see the grandeur of the orchestra and conductor on the operatic stage, which is just what takes place here. Johannes Debus has wonderful control of his team and it’s a joy to witness each player in their element.

Jane Archibald as the Nightingale gets to flex her vocal wings and is really maturing as a vocalist performance after performance.

My only complaint, if one can call it that, is that there are so many beautiful things going on on stage that one hardly knows where to look or focus their attention—it’s all just so visually and musically stunning.

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables is on stage now at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts through May 19. 

About The Author

Janelle Watkins
Editorial Director

Janelle Watkins is a citizen of the world who has lived both a charmed and stormy life. She has worked as a personal shopper, journalist, has done extensive work in marketing communications, and public relations. These experiences have seen her working alongside prominent leaders from the fashion, culinary, art and media worlds. This bon vivant would like to add some flair to her readers’ lives and loves to get their feedback. On everyday life she sums up, “Live life in your own style, be true to yourself – be distinct.” Favourite place in Toronto: Strolling around the Yonge/Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant Village neighbourhoods with a David’s Tea and two special little someones.

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