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.