The Arts

Iphigénie en Tauris

Iphigénie en Tauris featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron
October 5, 2011

Iphigénie en Tauris
Canadian Opera Company
Music by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado
Directed by Robert Carsen
Performed by Susan Graham, Russell Braun, Joseph Kaiser, Mark S. Doss, Robert Pomakov and Lauren Segal
Four Seasons Centre
Sept. 22 to Oct. 15, 2011

Robert Carsen’s marvelous production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice last season demonstrated that the director’s approach to classical Greek mythology is psychological and economical. This year, COC audiences are being treated to Carsen’s staging of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauris, and it’s another stunner.

Iphigénie is a daring production because of the uniformity of colour. The set and costumes are unrelentingly black. Death is a real presence.

What is brilliant is the use of extras – actors and dancers, choreographed by Philippe Giraudeau, who replace the off-stage chorus. With people who can move easily across the stage, Carsen can turn them into living metaphors who accent the action. This opera is almost like a dance drama, and the very abstractness takes us deeper into the music.

Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado gives a muscular reading of the score which takes the opera beyond baroque prettiness. The leading cast members, led by Susan Graham in the title role, are superb.

Iphigénie en Tauris continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Oct. 15.

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