Opera for Everyone with Quintessence in Penticton

Columnist Roswitha Masson reviews Quintessence vocal ensemble's visit to Penticton

Columnist Roswitha Masson reviews Quintessence vocal ensemble’s visit to Penticton

Last Wednesday’s Community Concert was so captivating that I almost forgot to take notes. With a lively introduction from the piano, the singers of the Quintessence vocal ensemble danced onto the stage, wineglasses in hand. Opera for Everyone was designed like a menu with musical items offered as drinks, appetizers, mains and desserts à la carte.

Four cubes on the stage doubled as seats and bar furniture as the jolly partiers performed three drinking songs by Verdi, Offenbach and Dargomizhky. Especially funny was the rendition of a tipsy diner by mezzo soprano Barb Towell in Offenbach`s Ah! quel dîner! A screen at the side of the stage showed the English translations of the lyrics.

Soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen amazed with passionate coloraturas in Gounod`s Je veux vivre from Romeo and Juliet. The women’s voices blended beautifully in Offenbach`s Belle Nuit.

Tenor Frederic Robert expressed profound feelings with sweetness and intimacy in La fleur que tu m’a jetee from  Bizet`s Carmen. Baritone Peter Alexander convincingly impersonated a boisterous Toreador from the same Opera.

Then the singers got into a fight about who would get to show off  next. The men won and performed Au fond du temple saint by Bizet. In Quartet from Rigoletto the women tricked the men into doing all the housework.

In the desserts à la carte section the audience choose their favourite selections by applause. It was clear that Pentictonites like music from our continent from composers like Loesser, Floyd and Bernstein. The group’s accomplished pianist, Tina Chang, got a chance to play some of her own arrangements.

The audience got to sing along in the Canadian folk song Log Driver’s Waltz. The evening finished with the endearing song Somewhere from Westside Story by Bernstein. It was a great ending for a most enjoyable evening.