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Oscar Wilde, marriage counsellor?

Catherine Malfitano on Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy


“Sometimes a marriage has to go to extreme places to revive, to bring a renaissance into the marriage. [How these characters] get there is rather strange and shocking… quite typical for Oscar Wilde.”

Soprano turned director Catherine Malfitano directs the Canadian Opera Company’s production of A Florentine Tragedy by Alexander Zemlinsky. Based on an unfinished story by Oscar Wilde, the opera details how a husband reignites the relationship with his wife by killing her lover. Malfitano describes the one-act opera as “a fascinating mix of ideas, very relevant to modern audiences. I think the music is glorious, super-saturated with romanticism and sensuality. The whole piece reeks of a highly erotic sensuality, because it’s also dealing with the whole idea of fidelity versus forbidden love.

“It has a really extremely shocking quality to it, but nothing more so than, say, our Hitchcock thrillers that we love so much.”

Starring Alan Held, Gun-Brit Barkmin and Michael König in their COC debuts, the opera is shown with Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi beginning Thu, Apr 26. coc.ca.