Connected to the sea

- June 13, 2008 Idomeneo, set in ancient Crete." />

Dal theatre professor David Overton with Jennifer Farrell, Erin Crooks and Olga Tylman. (Nick Pearce Photo)

When it comes to drama, the ancient Greeks set the stage. From star-crossed love to bloody murder, jealous spouses to jealous gods, no stone is left unturned when it comes to tragic situations and lusty relations. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Idomeneo, set in ancient Crete, doesn’t disappoint.

The audience is transported to Crete just after the Trojan War, where Cretans and the defeated Trojans are working together towards a peaceful co-existence. In fact, Prince Idamante, son of Cretan King Idomeneo (Jason Davis), and Ilia (Jennifer Farrell), would-be princess of Troy, are falling in love. However, the course of true love never does run true—especially when the ancient Greeks get involved! Furious deities and an angry soprano (which, as any opera lover knows, is equally dangerous) get in their way.

If you go

Tickets for Opera Nova Scotia’s production of Idomeneo, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, can be purchased at the Dalhousie Arts Centre Box Office for $20 general admission or $15 for senior citizens and students. Performances are Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 15 at 2 p.m. The show runs a little over two hours with a brief intermission.

Most of the trouble in Idomeneo is triggered by a fateful trip to sea. It is therefore surprising that this opera has never before been staged in Atlantic Canada. However, Opera Nova Scotia is finally bringing this colorful and dramatic Mozart piece to the Dalhousie Arts Centre’s Sir James Dunn Theatre on June 13, 14, and 15.

“A lot of the images we’re using in the show are about the connection to the sea,” says director David Overton, citing set designs and, of course, the presence of a sea monster in the opera. Overton, who has been a professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Theatre for almost 40 years, retires at the end of the month, so this will be his last project as a member of the Dal faculty. However, he insists this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. “They’ve got me booked for 2010,” he jokes.

Artistic Director of Opera Nova Scotia and retired Dalhousie music professor Walter Kemp is enthusiastic about the upcoming performances, which he feels are a must-see for all fans of Mozart or opera. “This is Mozart’s first real masterpiece,” he notes; Idomeneo was written when the composer was only 24.

Dr. Kemp, who taught music at Dalhousie for almost 20 years, retired at the end of the 2003-2004 school year. He became the artistic director of ONS almost as soon as he became available. As well as functioning as artistic director, his choir—the Walter Kemp singers—provides the operatic chorus. He puts emphasis on the fact that this is a “semi-professional” program, in that it upholds professional standards, but aims to give opportunities to younger performers just finishing their graduate degrees and in need of stage experience.

Opera Nova Scotia, brought into being in 2000 by co-founders Jason Parkhill and John Rapson, aims to help Maritimers gain more exposure to opera, as well as to foster young Nova Scotian musical and theatrical talent. They do their best to make opera for Nova Scotians by Nova Scotians. Idomeneo boasts a full orchestra largely populated by members of Symphony Nova Scotia; stars Jason Davis and Erin Crooks, graduates of the Dalhousie’s voice program, and Olga Tylman, who attended the Dal Summer Opera Workshop; was produced by Dal alumnus Zachary Moull, and features the work of recent Dal grads Kathryn Jenkins, scenery and lighting designer, and Jennifer Coe, costumer designer.

In 2004, ONS launched the first fully staged opera to be produced in Halifax in 30 years. Since then, their seasons have progressively grown, boasting 11 different projects this past year, concluding with Idomeneo.


All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus