I do realize that none of us really know whats become of Lillian Alling, but I’m being dead serious (for once, I know). You see it’s the final night of Lillian Alling at the Vancouver Opera and as was pointed out to me during the intermission on Thursday night, it is a very rare treat indeed to be able to enjoy a Canadian Opera and right now you have one more chance to enjoy this one, tonight, at the Vancouver Opera.
Now I am decidedly not going to divulge much of what to expect from the story of Lillian Alling, as that is certainly some of the beauty of this Opera. Just be told that this is a story of Canadian beginnings and one that rings true to so many of our ancestors that came to this new land looking for a fresh start. It was actually this at first that I wasn’t quite so sure of. I am so used to being whipped away at the Opera to foreign lands and adventures and with this set I saw the familiar. Whilst initially not quite sure about this, this grew on me, especially as I was taken from Coast to Coast and throughout history. I liked the sense of familiarity and knowledge that I belonged to this story. It also occurred to me that Lillian Alling beautifully depicts Canada and our history for the World Stage.
The sense of familiarity is what makes this an excellent Opera for an Opera Virgin, which my date for the evening was. It allowed him his first taste of the Opera in an environment that he could relate to and where every experience was not completely alien to him. It also meant the majority of the Opera was in a language he could understand – English – which certainly reduces the anxiety of someone new to this form of Art. So guys – a really good one to take your gals to and impress them on how culturally adventuresome you are. I know my date did just that by being such an eager participant in the experience (he even wore a tux).
So the highlights for me? Well as far as the story is concerned, the true tear jerking beauty that is the story that many a Canadian can relate to (not giving away any spoilers here) comes in Act II. And wow, what a rich Act it is. Act I establishes the scene, but as is often done in Canadian literature, when it comes to trekking across this great country of ours, they do seem to let the journey lag a little. Yes, we get it, it is a big country and a tremendously long journey. That said, I do see how that is important to the story and illustrating Lillian Alling’s determination.
Story aside, two real stars shone out for me in this Opera – the beautifully haunting music and Judith Forst (as Irene). Wow! To still be singing in the Opera in her 70s and to have a voice far superior to her younger counterpart in the role of Lillian on the stage. Must say it really was a gift to see the beauty of experience over that of youth (which is so often valued on the stage). An absolutely outstanding performance Judith, thank you for that. And having learnt that the music of Irene was specifically created for Judith Forst, I must say, I am very intrigued to see who is cast in this role in the future and how they carry the role.
Finally I would be remiss in not mentioning a few of the male performances that I very much enjoyed. Specifically that of Aaron St. Clair Nicholson as Scotty McDonald, and Thomas Goerz, who made a most believable Jozef. Brilliant casting here.
So it’s not too late. Show starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are half price at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre box office between 12 pm – 4 pm today.