Critics are complaining that Canada’s biggest opera premiere in years has fallen way short of the hype.
Joseph So, in Ludwig Van Toronto, would have liked more sex:
Given its gay theme, the COC printed dire warnings in its pre-show publicity material about “…nudity and sexual content…recommended for 18 or over.” Well, they needn’t have worried. There was no frontal nudity, and the sex scenes were tame. As tenor Isaiah Bell said when I interviewed him: “Nothing feels gratuitous…Any content that’s in there, it’s there to tell a story.” That said, I did notice a few more empty seats after intermission, perhaps indicative of a certain discomfort given the gay theme?
Wainwright being a dyed-in-the-wool melodist, the score of Hadrian isn’t “new music” at all. There are dissonances, but over all it’s tonal, lyrical, and above all accessible. Structurally grounded in traditional opera, one hears arias, duets, even a trio, with moments of melodic inspiration. Naysayers would call his music derivative, but it’s suitably evocative. At one point I heard the opening notes of “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen from Rückert-Lieder. Another place reminded me of “Abschied” from Das Lied von der Erde — perhaps Wainwright is a Mahler fan? …
Read on here.
Yes, that’s Thomas Hampson.