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REVIEW: Night at the Opera 'a night to remember'

For the first time since COVID wreaked havoc on live music, the Barrie Concert Association hosted performances Saturday night
Conductor Marcus Willem Scholtes.

Editor's note: The following review was submitted by musician and music teacher Sandra Ruttan.

They’re back! On Saturday night, people streamed into Hiway Pentecostal Church to take in Barrie Concert Association’s first concert since COVID wreaked havoc with live music.

Originally planned to take place in March 2020, ticket-holders for the March 18 show were pleased to finally have their Night at the Opera, featuring the Toronto Concert Orchestra (TCO) with soprano Sara Papini and tenor Romula Delgado.

The opening of the concert was bitter-sweet, as BCA board member Daryl Yaeger acknowledged the absence of Bruce Owen, who passed away just over a year ago and whose leadership, passion for music and presence at every concert will be missed.

But the moment was taken, before the performance started, to recognize young musicians in our community who have recently won prestigious awards with the Royal Conservatory of Music. This seemed to be just the thing he would have liked to see ... and the fact that the Barrie and Georgian Concert Series are back.

A Night at the Opera began with the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, the bustling energy of the piece reflecting the excited anticipation of the audience.

Conductor Marcus Scholtes reflected briefly on how good it was to be back performing live, although the TCO has also suffered the loss of their founder and previous conductor Kerry Stratton, who was well known and well loved. However, his legacy lives on in skilled and evocative music-that TCO continues to make.

The program continued with Papini and Delgado, both internationally recognized artists, singing arias and duets from well-known operas, interspersed with short orchestral works featuring the orchestra alone.

Highlights of the concert include Caro Nome from Verdi’s Rigoletto, in which Papini captivated the audience with her seemingly effortless enactment of this challenging coloratura aria, sung with stunning agility and accuracy. The Italian in Algiers Overture by Rossini, with its kaleidoscope of textures, colours and dynamics was met with audible gasps of delight, so interesting were its many details, so skilfully played.

Delgado’s fluid, expansive rendition of the sweeping Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Puccini lifted the audience to their feet. The evening ended with the waltz-like duet, Libiano from La Traviata by Verdi, a finale that most certainly sent the audience home with hearts and spirits dancing.

A Night at the Opera was a night to remember, reminisce and roll out a new concert season.