Review Roundup: Opera Lafayette's LEONORE, OU L'AMOUR CONJUGAL
Opera Lafayette presented LÉONORE, OU L'AMOUR CONJUGAL in NYC at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater on February 23rd.
The Quebecois cast includes debut performances by Mc Laren, Jean-Michel Richer as Florestan, Tomislav Lavoie as Roc, Keven Geddes as Jacquino, and Alexandre Sylvestre as Dom Fernand. Returning artists include as Marceline Pascale Beaudin, who last performed in Opera Lafayette's 2015 production of Grétry's L' Épreuve villageoise, and as Pizare Dominique Côté, who made his company debut last season as Pausanias in Chabrier's Une Éducation Manquée.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, NY Times: Members of the talented Canadian cast were comfortable with the spoken French dialogue and their light, healthy voices made the transitions from talking to singing natural and fluid. Pascale Beaudin brought a powdery-soft soprano to the role of Marceline, the jailer's daughter who pines for the attentions of the apprentice Fidelio - never suspecting that he is a woman. As Fidelio/Léonore, the soprano Kimy McLaren had expressive bite and clarity.
Voce di meche: The strophic music is delightfully tuneful and more than usually memorable. (Small wonder that popular music is written strophically!) Duets were uncommonly beautiful... When the prisoners are released for a few moments of daylight, they sing a stirring chorus, ending Act I on a hopeful note.... Act II begins on a tragic note with the suffering Florestan pouring out his despair. On a personal note, we were quite moved by his aria which the singer delivered with as dark a color as was a propos.... There was not a weak link in the vocalism; all the singers are Canadian and the French was mostly understandable, a good thing because the stage lighting often faded out the surtitles. We could not have asked for a better cast; they delivered dramatically as well as vocally.
Charles T. Downey, Washington Classical Review: Canadian soprano Kimy Mc Laren was less bold in the title role, but dramatically compelling in voice and stage presence. Léonore's entrance aria is also a slow, affecting piece, and Mc Laren's floating sound on the high notes pulled stirred the emotions. Bass Tomislav Lavoie, another Canadian making a strong company debut, displayed a forceful sound as the jailer, Roc, but tended to rush the beat, especially in the prison trio with Léonore and Florestan.
Robert Battey, The Washington Post: Conductor Ryan Brown assembled a strong, consistent cast, anchored by Kimy McLaren in the title role. Her supple soprano projected with more ease than her colleagues' voices, though none were inferior. Alexandre Sylvestre in the smallest role (Don Fernand) left me wanting much more, and Pascale Beaudin (Marceline), Tomislav Lavoie (Roc), Keven Geddes (Jacquino), and Dominique Côté (Pizare) all sported clean, healthy voices.
Chris Williams, MD Theatre Guide: The most inspiring music, perhaps unsurprisingly, is given to the role that the composer himself played in the original production, Florestan. Gaveaux was perhaps better known in his day as a tenor. In Opera Lafayette's production, Jean-Michel Richer balances the fragility of the emaciated prisoner, Florestan, with the richness of an impassioned lover while Kim McLaren's Léonore is assured and nuanced.