When ‘Love’ can’t find its balance

“Elixir of Love”
Canberra Opera Workshop.
ANU Arts Centre, season closed.
Reviewed by Ian McLean

THE standard of musical theatre in Canberra is excellent as highlighted by outstanding 2011 productions such as “Avenue Q” and “Blood Brothers”.

Sadly, this initial offering from the Canberra Opera Workshop fell short of those standards.

A wooden chorus, soldiers with an inability to march in step or perform even basic movements in unison, poor balance between singers and orchestra and virtually no understanding of characterisation just doesn’t cut it.

Cate Clelland is talented and experienced, but this production lacked even basic directorial guidance, while many of the cast often seemed to have little notion that they were required to actually act and sing in time with the orchestra.

On the positive side, the orchestra was excellent with fine clarity of sound and style interpretation.

Tenor David Smith as Nemorino shone. He sang with passion, conviction and a genuine understanding of his role. He was ably supported by Christopher McNee, who displayed a deft comedic edge as the quack doctor, Dulcamara.

David Reedy should be admired for his determination to bring locally produced opera to the stage, but it needs to be good. If opera is to succeed, David would be well advised to extend his casting net so he might draw upon and utilise the experienced talent pool which exists within the musical theatre fraternity.

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