The Impresario


Music by W.A. Mozart

Libretto adapted by Sonja Gustafson



Mr. Scruples - Ian Robertson

Mr. Bluff - Paul Grambo

Mr. Angel - Morgan Jones

Madame Goldentrill - Taylor Robertson

Miss Silverpeal - Sonja Gustafson

with Ian Robertson, piano


The glamorous world of opera: where egos are abundant and profits are plunging – what is an opera Impresario to do? Retire far away from the lights of the stage, if he has any sense! But not if an ambitious assistant, his wealthy patron and two duelling divas have any say!




Production Photos



Photos courtesy of Joseph Samuels, poster by LooGraphics



Production Sponsor

Friends from First St. Andrew's United Senior Choir



Reviews & Articles

From Beat Magazine, September 18, 2010

I missed The Impresario at the Fringe Festival, so I was glad to catch it last Friday at UWO. But I'm sorry I have seen this production only once, because one or two repeats would not only have given extra pleasure, but would have revealed a little more about the attention to detail that helped make it so entertaining. .

For people who don't take opera too seriously, there are lots of laughs to be had from sending it up: the Marx Brothers were not the first, nor Mary Lou Fallis the last, to exploit this secret. And for those who do take opera very seriously indeed, then a very serious opera about opera can be just the thing. But the Impresario is an opera that not only laughs at opera but takes it seriously too. To bring it off requires a very nice balance indeed, and this was surely a lot harder to do than Sonja Gustafson and her Diva Lounge company made it seem.

The plot is simple, and in these hard times for the arts, much to the point as well. Mr Scruples, the Impresario of the title – Ian Robertson, who doubled as pianist – caught between his devotion to artistic standards and a budget that needs balancing, is about to take up farming. But his less fastidious assistant, Mr. Bluff, Paul Grambo, knows how the company might be saved. Go for sensation, use modern dress (no costuming costs), and above all employ an over-the-hill star who is too vain to retire – she'll be ready to work cheaply for want of an alternative engagement, and find an ambitious beginner who will also work cheaply for the sake of the exposure. Enter Mr. Angel, Morgan Jones, brandishing a cheque-book and accompanied by one of each: Madame Goldentrill played by Taylor Robertson and Miss Siverpeal, Sonja Gustafson herself, still feigning pregnancy for the sake of the production. All that remains to be settled is which of the ladies is to be the company's prima-donna, and off we go.

The impresario's dilemma and the sopranos' rivalry were both there in 1786, but just about everything else in this production has been freely updated, and how easy it would have been to take the whole thing over the top. But if this little work is not quite Figaro' Wedding, it is still Mozart at the height of his powers, and its two contrasting arias, duet (shades of Susanna and Marcellina nevertheless), trio and final quartet require that humour be founded on a modicum of respect. And it was. The occasional exaggerated gesture, well placed squawk, and ill-placed intake of breath, kept the audience laughing just loudly enough as the action, and the music, moved towards Mr, Scruples final rescue from his agricultural fate, for the meanwhile, at least.

Friday provided me with another first – a visit to a new theatre. Having endured the old one for more than thirty years, I was as delighted with the venue as I was with the opera. UWO's faculty of music finally seems to have a space worthy of its performers.

-David Laidler used to teach economics at UWO, but what he really likes is going to the opera.

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