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The programme was framed by Hungarian tenor Atilla Kiss, Don Jose in the COC's Carmen, who began with two arias from Puccini's Turandot, 'E lucevan le stelle' to start and 'Nessun Dorma' to conclude with on a thrilling high note. In between came the forthright projection of Brazilian baritone of Paulo Szot, who sang a spirited Don Giovanni aria and whet one's appetite for his Don Escamillo in a suitably swaggering 'Toreador Song' replete with designer ponytail and handsome gait.

Atilla B Kiss with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. Photo © 2005 Laura Elizabeth Stanley
Atilla B Kiss with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. Photo © 2005 Laura Elizabeth Stanley

Especially impressive was the buffo aria 'La calunnia' from Rossini's Barber of Seville, comically characterized with a superbly booming bass register by the Turkish bass Burak Bilgili, fresh from his Metropolitan Opera début and clearly deserving of a career on major opera stages. The audience loved every bit of it. The two sopranos Spanish Ana Ibarra and Hungarian Georgina Lukacs, were both dramatically persuasive with rich if somewhat over vibrant voices. Ana Ibarra brought expressive passion to the 'Song to the Moon' from Dvorák's Rusalka and an aria from Adriana Lecouvreur, while Lukacs gave a formidable rendition of 'Pace, Pace' from Verdi's Forza del destino and a poignant account of 'Suicido' from Ponchielli's La Gioconda.

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Copyright © 11 September 2005 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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