Story by Kyle Poluyko, Photos by Jessica Graham

Friday evening saw Opera Northwest make a triumphant debut with its premiere concert, A Night At the Opera. Enthusiastic patrons filled St. Paul’s Anglican Church to near capacity as Thunder Bay’s new and only opera company breathed rich, elegant, and sophisticated life into this long overdue endeavour locally in the grand art. Accompanied by Maestro Sean Kim on the piano, scenes from the operas of Mozart, Bizet, and Monteverdi were staged in a light concert format to the delight of a tantalized crowd.

The evening’s programme began with scenes from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, performed by Theresa Thibert, Melanie Dorfman, William Roberts, Kai Leinonen, and John Welyki. Their voices intertwined in euphonious sound. The quintetto “Sento Dio” was an audience favourite. Roberts’ aria from Cosi, “Vorrei dir” added both comedy and drama to the quintetto, and was extremely well sung. Thibert’s aria, “Smanie Imbeccabili” also from from Cosi fan tutte, poured forth a flood of range and emotion, sung with Thibert’s resounding soprano power and precise technique.

Savannah Tonigussi’s sole performance was aria “L’ho perduta” from Le Nozze di Figaro. Tonigussi performed with full and beautiful voice, showcasing the potential Opera Northwest finds abundant in the community. Maria Tassone smartly and confidently sang “Habenera,” the infamous aria from Bizet’s Carmen, receiving a crescendo of well-deserved applause. Tassone later opened the second act with another charming and riveting aria, “Voi che sapete,” from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The “Card Trio,” also from Carmen, offered another splendid trio from Dorfman, Tassone, and Thibert.

Thibert and tenor Kai Leinonen then joined together for “La ci darem la mano,” a duet from Don Giovanni. Leinonen’s resplendent tenor is gentle and graceful yet controlled – stunning and captivating – with a brilliant, rich and warm tone. John Welyki returned to admirably perform “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön,” a German aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, delivered with power, clarity, and honesty.

With brilliance of voice and sumptuous style Thibert returned once more with the aria by Carl Maria von Weber, “Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen,” from Der Freischutz. Thibert’s sonorous vocal quality, stamina and brilliance of voice and performance gave wonderfully, agile, comical, and engaged storytelling.

The evening came to a close with the duet, “Pur ti miro,” from Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea featuring Thibert and Dorfman, once again richly displaying the elegance and substantial vocal technique of the vocalists and, of course, opera’s fine repertoire, and brought the audience to its feet in a rousing standing ovation with thunderous applause.

Proceeds from Friday’s concert go towards Opera Northwest’s planned stage production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro this June. If the attendance, enthusiasm and tremendous ovation at last Friday’s A Night At the Opera is any indication, opera and Opera Northwest is indeed in demand.

Opera Northwest’s gala concert fundraiser was held Friday, January 15 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Visit them on Facebook and @Opera_Northwest on Twitter for upcoming events and the latest updates.