Edmea: A psychological slant on a popular work

Wexford Festival Opera: Chorus and orchestra overcome Covid-restricted numbers with gusto

Wexford Festival Opera: Anne Sophie Duprels as Edmea, Ivan Shcherbatykh as the Count of Leitmeritz, and Leon Kim as Ulmo. Photograph: Clive Barda/ArenaPal

Wexford Festival Opera: Anne Sophie Duprels as Edmea, Ivan Shcherbatykh as the Count of Leitmeritz, and Leon Kim as Ulmo. Photograph: Clive Barda/ArenaPal

 

EDMEA

National Opera House, Wexford
★★★☆☆
There are three key men in the life of Edmea, eponymous heroine of Alfredo Catalani’s 1886 opera. Oberto is the man she loves. Ulmo loves her, but his feeling is unrequited. Her overbearing father, the Count of Leitmaritz, forces her to marry Ulmo. After which she throws herself in the Elbe, and the ever-hopeful Ulmo follows her.

They survive, but Edmea loses her mind. Through a series of happenstances, she is reunited with Oberto, who, unfortunately, knows nothing of her marriage. Her father sees the better of his ways and secures an annulment. But not before Ulmo has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Catalani intended Edmea to be a popular work in an intentionally unprogressive musical style, to exploit the critical acclaim his earlier operas had received. The second act, after Edmea and Ulmo survive their watery exposure, includes the distraction of a troupe of jesters and the celebration of the birth of the first child of a Count Waldeck.

Cécile Trémolières’ two-storey set shows the real world on top. It is mirrored below – the furniture now dangling from the ceiling – by the darker world and clamorous voices (the chorus) of Edmea’s subconscious

Director Julia Burbach’s production takes a psychological slant. Cécile Trémolières’ two-storey set shows the real world on top. It is mirrored below – the furniture now dangling from the ceiling – by the darker world and clamorous voices (the chorus) of Edmea’s subconscious.

Wexford’s Edmea, the French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels, is not on the best of form, unless you want to interpret the unevenness in her vocal delivery as reflecting the stress her character endures. She sounds at her best in her upper range and under pressure.

Her two ardent suitors are the ever-heroic Italian tenor Luciano Ganci (Oberto) and the equally imposing but rather more nuanced South Korean baritone Leon Kim (Ulmo). The Irish tenor Conor Prendiville makes an impression as the jester Fritz, both vocally and for his long-legged physicality. The chorus sings with the kind of force intended to make up for paucity in numbers, and the Wexford Festival Orchestra plays Andrea Luca Beraldo’s Covid-driven reduced orchestration with gusto under Francesco Cilluffo.

Edmea continues at the National Opera House on Friday, October 22nd, Thursday, October 28th, and Sunday, October 31st, as part of Wexford Festival Opera

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