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Liveblogging Devereux

Also published in The Rover.

My continued hassling of the Montreal opera establishment has lead to bizarre countermeasures: I have been invited into the belly of the beast, its tenderest backstage bits where motors and maidens meet, and where I am liveblogging a performance of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux.

19:40 I have made it inside. It is dark and well-organized. The orchestra is warming up and sound pipes in from all directions but you can see nothing, like being in the eye of storm.

19:53 Pierre Massoud, Production Coordinator for the OdM, takes us up to the fifth floor and shows us the giant motors that control the set. It appears that everything is to descend from an ornate ceiling.

20:07 Overture finishes, perhaps a little hurried.

20:14 Sarah (mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Batton) has finished praying. I don’t think I’m going to be able to comment on the singing much, I’m hearing everything perpendicular. Is that why they put me back here?

20:18 Watching the ceiling is like watching a hunting spider—when will it move and with what deadly potency?

20:21 Elizabeth I (soprano Dimitra Theodossiou) is enchanting, honeyed, but catches some ragged notes at maximum volume.

20:58 We are taken around the other side to stage left, close enough to gather spittle and watch Roberto and Sara being unconvincing on the bed, though Dolgov’s voice has something, a spice to it. The dozen amazing motors raise and lower wallpapers from Urban Outfitters.

21:00 First intermission. The massages begin.

21:16 Second act from a loge inside the hall. So, no internet access but perhaps the sets will make more sense.

21:59 Back to the room where men wander in tights singing to themselves. The second act ended very well, a tight and frightening condemnation of Roberto’s treason. Theodossiou menacing, the first syllable of “Va; la morte sul capo ti pende” cuts like a knife. Nottingham (baritone James Westman) sings well enough but seems to think he’s in a comedy.

22:04 Third act begins. A man saunters offstage, does a dance, and grabs a handful of candy. We seem to be in a “safe space.”

22:25 A disconcerting couple of minutes as the chorus mills backstage twirling its long skirts, some members posing from The Matrix while condemned Roberto cries from the tower of London behind them.

22:32 Resounding applause for Theodossiou.

22:45 Resounding applause for Theodossiou.

22:49 The opera critics slip into the night like rats.