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Measha Brüggergosman to appear in final concert of symphony season

by Annette Campbell

A wise person once told me that opera is nothing more than gratuitous sex and violence. You may or may not agree, but you have to admit, there is definitely something about opera that keeps audiences coming back for more. It should come as no surprise then, that the PEISO is ending its season on April 1 with "No Foolin'!" a well-rounded sampler of some of opera's greatest hits, with special guest star, soprano Measha Brüggergosman.

Ms. Brüggergosman is a young woman on the move. You may remember her from her guest appearance on the Jive Kings' latest CD, The Jive Kings with Measha Brüggergosman, but she is also a rising star in the classical music world. A native of Fredericton, N.B., Brüggergosman graduated from the University of Toronto in 1999. Currently she is working on a Masters degree in Dusseldorf, Germany with Edith Weiss.

I spoke with conductor James Mark about the upcoming concert and Brüggergosman's appearance. "It's very exciting to have her performing with us," says Mark, "her career is really taking off and we booked her just in time. She's really in demand now, especially since her unforgettable New Year's Eve performance at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto." Having heard her myself, performing the lead role in the new Canadian opera, Beatrice Chancy, I can certainly understand Mark's enthusiasm. Her voice is at once powerful and subtle, with a wide-range that captures the heart and spirit of the role she is performing.

Brüggergosman will present several works on this April 1st concert. The audience will get a taste of both old-world and new-world opera, with the aria "Mes voiles seules" from Bizet's Pearl Fishers, and "My Man's Gone Now" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The only non-operatic work will be a selection from André Previn's song cycle Honey and Rue, a work made popular by well-known diva Kathleen Battle. Ms. Brüggergosman will round out her half of the program with "La Wally" from Catalani's Diva, always a crowd favourite.

The orchestra will keep up the operatic vein of the concert, performing instrumental works from three different operas. Rossini's Semiramide was the last opera he wrote in Italy and its overture is one of his finest. Uncharacteristically for Rossini, the work includes thematic material that recurs in the opera itself, but the composer's unmistakable melodic flow is still present. Saint-Saëns's "Bacchanale" from Samson et Dalila is not an overture; in fact it occurs in Act III, Scene ii, as the Philistines prepare for Samson's sacrifice. In typical French opera style, this music is actually a ballet sequence, but Saint-Saëns includes augmented 2nds to give the work a Near-East feel, and lots of percussion to evoke the barbarism of the sacrificial act. Finally, the orchestra will perform Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger, one of my all-time favourites. Listen for the fantastically heroic brass at the end of the work; you'll never forget the tune.

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