reviewed by Paula Citron
Queen of Puddings Music Theatre
Composed by James Rolfe
Libretto by Paul Bentley
Directed by Jennifer Tarver
Music direction by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess
Starring Giles Tomkins, Inês Santos, Shannon Mercer, Elizabeth Turnbull and Thomas Goerz
At the Enwave Theatre
Last week saw the premiere of a new opera by Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, and if the gods are kind, this production should have a shelf life.
Inês, composed by James Rolfe with a libretto by Paul Bentley, is as absorbing as it is accessible. The two transcribed an event from 14th century Portuguese history into 1960s Toronto, and although we knew what had to happen at the end, that fact took nothing away from Jennifer Tarver’s taut direction or the passion of the cast.
The unusual feature about Inês is that it incorporates fado – the mournful national song style of Portugal, and famous fado singer Inês Santos was brought over to play the lead, surrounded by four excellent Canadian opera singers. Music directors Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess should be congratulated for excellent diction throughout.
Rolfe’s music is pleasantly arioso, but his chief claim is writing riveting ensemble numbers. Bentley’s text managed to get around the information mode to some sizzling dialogue.