reviewed by Paula Citron
The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
Canadian Opera Company
Composed by Igor Stravinsky
Conducted by Jonathan Darlington
Directed by Robert Lepage
Starring Olga Peretyatko, Lothar Odinius, Ilya Bannik, Robert Pomakov and Maria Radner
At the Four Seasons Centre until Nov. 5
The COC’s stunning world premiere production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables is a triumph of the imagination. The reason? – Robert Lepage. The Quebecois director has culled together six vocal and four instrumental works to make up an evening that is absolutely enchanting.
It is hard to put Lepage’s ideas into words. First of all, the orchestra is on stage throughout. In the first act, there is an overhead scrim which Lepage uses for a series of astonishing images variously employing hand silhouettes, the physical body and masks, the latter like South East Asian puppet plays. These theatricalities capture five short fables including The Fox. In the longer second act, singers and movers, like the silent kuroko from Japanese kabuki, enact The Nightingale using puppets and props in a reflecting pool.
To tell it sounds dry. To see it and hear it is pure magic.