Arts at One – Vancouver Opera Young Artists event review
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
Arts at One at Douglas College’s Laura C. Muir Theatre hosted the Vancouver Opera Young Artists on September 19. The performing opera group was composed of Irina Medvedeva, soprano, Gena van Oosten, mezzo-soprano, Daevyd Pepper, tenor, Nicholas Borg, baritone, and Andrea Van Pelt, pianist.
The group walked onto the set, laughing and toasting with wine glasses. It was clear that, although they did not speak to each other in English, they were communicating through the song as though it were their native tongue. Dressed elegantly, they began the night with a group piece, “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” by Giuseppe Verdi. Pelt’s quick hands on the keys beautifully set a professional tone for the performance.
Oosten demonstrated amazing range and vocal ability during “Una voce poco fa,” by Gioachino Rossini. Despite the words being foreign, the story was clear since it was acted out by way of movement, dancing, gestures and facial expressions. The story also turned multiple times. The start was loving and playful; Oosten jumped and twirled around, grinning wildly. Further in the story, she showed anger through totally stiff movements. Her voice changed pitch often—down and up, up and down—all over her range to fulfill the story. Taunting and mischievous emotions are perfectly conveyed through staccato and driven piano, despite seeming like a difficult task. Oosten’s vocal riffs are clean and her vocal control is phenomenal.
Borg later performed, “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre,” by Georges Bizet, otherwise known as the “Toreador Song.” Borg held the audience on a string, with all eyes on him. This piece was far lower in pitch (with Borg being baritone) yet the song was immensely theatrical and just as emotionally fulfilling as any other. Intense at first, the piece progressively got bouncier until it felt like watching a live-action Disney villain song. Borg seemed satisfied after his performance—shooting a cunning smile before stepping off backstage.
The first duet, “Parigi, O Cara,” by Giuseppe Verdi, featured Pepper and Medvedeva. Medvedeva’s voice is angelic with soft transitions, and that paired magnificently with Pepper’s also soothing tenor range. Despite beautifully matching vocals, the choreography made the visual aspect of the performance rather uncomfortable. Pepper was choreographed to hold his lover Medvedeva, though the two were stiff and seemed to avoid eye contact until they neared the end of the song.
The second duet, “Il core vi dono,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featured Oosten and Borg. Oosten’s voice is rather classic and timeless, working wonderfully with the intensity of Borg’s lower register. The duet pairings were a good decision. Although the stiff slow dance and romance pose made a comeback in this duet, Oosten saved the awkward tension by grinning at Borg and actively melting into his touch.
The last few pieces were performed in English, and though it should’ve been nice being able to understand what the story behind each piece was, the mystery and beauty of the classics were favourable. Nonetheless, these five incredibly talented musicians put on a spectacular show and left their audience in awe.