by Paula Citron
The ambitious Toronto Operetta Theatre has taken on Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and there is both good news and bad news.
Tenor James McLennan in the title role displays a pleasing voice and is definitely someone to keep an eye on as his career develops. Talented soprano Carla Huhtanen as Cunegonde continues to impress with her bright sound and coloratura skills. Old pro mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell makes the Old Woman come alive with gusto. Good performances also come from soprano Anna Bateman as Paquette, baritone Bryan Estabrooks as Maximilian, and baritone Vincent Thomas as Martin. Tenor Gaétan Sauvageau as the Governor et al. is another talent to watch. There is a future big voice there.
As for baritone Ian Funk in the pivotal role of Pangloss et al., he is very weak in sound, pitch and tempi.
Across the board, diction is dismal which mars the sprightly conducting of Julian Wachner. Guillermo Silva-Marin’s minimalist staging and banner-strewn set works very well with Mireille Vachon’s attractive white costumes.
Candide continues at the Jane Mallett Theatre until Sunday.
I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.