Opera

YOUNG OPERA SINGERS COMPETE FOR TOP PRIZE

Calling all Opera lovers, here an opportunity to experience some of our brightest young opera singers.

Established to further encourage the highest standards in the performance of Opera, the Opera & Arts Support Group Scholarship Final is a showcase of Australia’s emerging classical singers aged 30 years and under.

The final will take place on Friday 21 July at 730pm at the St Columba Uniting Church Woollahra. Tickets are $45 plus booking fee.

For more about Opera & Arts Support Group Vocal Scholarship Final, visit https://sydneyeisteddfod.com.au/opera-and-arts-support-group-vocal-scholarship-30-and-under/#tickets
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YOUNG OPERA SINGERS STRIVE FOR THE PERFECT NOTE IN FINALS CONTEST @ THE CONCOURSE

Eight of the most promising young singers from Australia and New Zealand will perform accompanied by the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Steven Hillinger, in the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship Final.

One of the most coveted awards for young classical singers, it has launched the careers of countless Australian opera singers since it began in 1933. This event launched the career of Dame Joan Sutherland in 1949, and 84 years on, its winners and finalists continue to enrich world opera. Continue reading YOUNG OPERA SINGERS STRIVE FOR THE PERFECT NOTE IN FINALS CONTEST @ THE CONCOURSE

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS GILBERT AND SULLIVAN’S ‘THE GONDOLIERS’

For a lighthearted night at the theatre Rockdale Opera Company’s THE GONDOLIERS is just the thing. It is one of the most popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas with the witty words and twisting plot of Gilbert combined with the cheerful and lyrical music of Sullivan.

A strong cast of principles, under the direction of Ralph Bott, have a great rapport bringing the tale to life. Spencer Darby as Marco Palmieri, Michael Kallidis as Giuseppe Palmieri, together with Amy Balales as Gianetta and Charlotte Campbell as Tessa form the central four lovers whose fate is suddenly upturned with some new arrivals from Spain.

The Duke of Plaza-Toro, played in a highly comic style by Gordon Costello and his majestic wife the Duchess, Megan Chalmers, along with their dutiful daughter Casilda, Jessica Harper and attendant come secret lover Luiz played by Daine Ellicott arrive. Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS GILBERT AND SULLIVAN’S ‘THE GONDOLIERS’

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ‘THE GONDOLIERS’ @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

THE GONDOLIERS is  one of the most popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas. And no wonder, with Gilbert’s witty lyrics, Sullivan’s joyous music including the energetic Cachuca, a large cast of extremely talented principals supported by a host of gallant Gondolieri and colourful Contadine and last but certainly not least, some very interesting characters from the Sunny Spanish Shore.

Special group prices available.

Rockdale Town Hall is within easy walking distance of Rockdale Station on the Illawarra Line.

Ample parking is available in council car parks and nearby streets. There is easy access to both foyer and auditorium for disabled or frail patrons.

Coffee, tea, snacks, sandwiches and alcoholic drinks are available at the convenient Bar and refreshment area either pre or post show.

DATES FOR THE DIARY – 

June 24th at 7.30 pm, June 25th at 2 pm, July 1st at  7.30 pm, July 2nd at 2 pm.

For more about The Gondoliers, visit http://www.rockdaleopera.com.au
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OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

This joyous, frothy operetta is a sheer delight. Robert Andrew Greene’s TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE is adapted from Charles Lecocq’s 1874 classic operetta Girofle-Girofla. Musically it blends some of the most famous and beautiful songs of the operetta repertoire (Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman, Lecocq, Stolz ) yet at times it sounds like Mozart, Verdi or even Gilbert and Sullivan.

There is a lush Oriental minimal set design by Owen Phillips – looking as if it could be for The Abduction From The Seraglio or some such – and stunning costumes by Tim Chappel. Andrew Hallsworth’s choreography is inventive and the small cast of five perform with great comic timing.

Polished musical accompaniment was provided by pianist Robert Andrew Green and violinist Yuhki Mayne. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

OPERANTICS PRESENT STRAUSS’ ‘DIE FLEDERMAUS’ @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

 

Johann Strauss delicious operetta with its catchy tunes premiered on 5 April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna and has been part of the regular repertoire ever since. Opera Australia often perform it on New Year’s Eve as a special gala and/or include it as part of their regular season.

The plot hinges on a glittering masked ball, given by a Russian prince, that brings together all the main characters in various disguises. The three-act journey that leads from boudoir to ballroom to jail provides ample opportunities for farce and humour, but also provides for genuine human emotion and what can be a surprisingly realistic view of urban life. There are lovers in disguise, unfaithful wives and husbands and would be stage struck maids…

Operantics have transposed and updated it to Manhattan New York City in 1929 with a witty, scintillating new translation of the libretto that audiences love.

The plot is basically as follows : Gabriel von Eisenstein is evading prison to attend Prince Orlofsky’s ball, with the help of his friend Dr Falke who secretly bears him a grudge over a misjudged practical joke from years before –   hence the title of the show.

Meanwhile his wife Rosalinde has to reluctantly fend off the advances of a persistent suitor, dashing singing teacher Alfred, and she follows Gabriel to the ball in disguise, planning to catch him out flirting. Adele their maid is scheming too, attending the ball also in disguise in the hopes of impressing a Broadway producer…..

The show was presented as it it was a late 1920’s movie. There was a deft use of projections ( on the back panel) to further enhance the art–deco like set.

The dialogue (recitative) was spoken in English.  The arias /ensemble pieces were sung in the original German with translations as surtitles on the screen –this took a little bit of getting used to but worked ok.

Eliza Grundy’s choreography for the cramped small stage was most effective.

The show was without a live orchestra however the score was presented in a piano version , magnificently played by Nathaniel Kong and precisely, delightfully conducted by elegant, energetic Keiren Brandt-Sawdy.

Vocally the opera was splendid with some magnificent performances, especially from the four leads. The chorus had a great time and were impressive too.

As wealthy man-about-town Gabriel von Eisenstein, Michael Handy was a caddish, rather sleazy man who dithers at various points. He was in splendid voice giving a very polished performance. His duets with Rosalinde at the ball and she was masked in disguise were glorious.

His unhappy wife Rosalinde was terrifically sung by Jessica Harper who was in thrilling voice. She has great fun teasing Alfred and Gabriel. She suffered from self-deceiving hauteur and could be bitchy in her interactions with Adele yet positively charming to everyone else. Was she really in love with Alfred ? Or Gabriel ? Her show stopping aria in disguise, as a countess at the ball, when she sings the “Czardas”, her set piece in the second act , (“Klänge der Heimat”/”Songs of My Homeland”) had the audience at her feet in raptures and brought the house down .

As Adele, Amy Balales is superb. In her black short sexy chichi French maid outfit in the first half she is stunning – and such glorious long legs. And then she is in a long green gown for when she is in disguise at the ball. Her ‘laughing song’ (“Mein Herr Marquis”/”My lord marquis) at the ball was a showstopper and she absolutely wowed us and Frank with “Spiel’ ich die Unschuld vom Lande”/”If I play the innocent country girl “ displaying her ravishing thespian talents.

Dashing tall , dark and handsome yet rather louche Alfred is gloriously sung by Spencer Darby.

Tristan Entwhistle as Dr Falke has the vocal presence ensuring all eyes and ears are drawn to him as he masterminds his revenge.

Prince Orlofsky (should that be Princess?!)- was played with charisma by cross dressing Laura Griffin as a White Russian plutocrat who suffers from ennui. The Prince  presides over a sort of multi-sexual post-Mardi Gras  party, rendered furtive by everyone’s adoption of assumed identities.

Matthew Avery delightfully sang the part of Frank.

Even though there is an exuberant full cast champagne chorus finale  we do get the feeling that the Eisenstein’s rocky marriage will more than likely disintegrate, and that  Adele will follow her dream and become a stage star…

This Operantics production was a lot of fun and featured some great music.  DIE FLEDERMAUS played the Independent Theatre  between the 20th and 23rd April.

 

L’enfant prodigue by Claude Debussy @ Backyard Opera

Debussy’s L’enfant Prodigue is a staged cantata by Claude Debussy with text by Édouard Guinand that runs approximately 45 minutes.

This classic parable still resonates with us today. In an increasingly isolating and individualistic society, we are confronted by our own passive vilification of people who have fallen through the cracks. The drive to succeed and express our identity comes at a cost. Humanisation and community are the remedy,

The cantata is to be directed by Lucy Scott and conducted by Luke Spicer. The work will be played by a chamber orchestra accompanied by soprano Ayşe Göknur Shanal, tenor  Joel Scott and baritone Andrew Williams. The piece runs for forty five minutes.

SEASON

May 5th: 7:30PM
May 6th: 5:30 + 7:30PM
May 7th: 5:30 + 7:30PM

VENUE

Backyard Opera –  a new  multi-use arts space a five minute walk from Tempe Station : http://www.backyardopera.com/contact

For more about L’enfant prodigue by Claude Debussy, visit https://www.trybooking.com/PTCM

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ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY’S GALA FUNDRAISING CONCERT

Featured image – Emma Matthews. Pic by Brendan Reid.

Rockdale Opera Company is presenting a Gala Concert, for one night only, featuring international stars and Opera Australia favourites, baritone José Carbó and soprano Emma Matthews.

They will be joined by four young, emerging operatic artists and the Rockdale Opera Company Ensemble in a program of popular arias, duets and choruses from opera, operetta and Gilbert and Sullivan.

Rockdale Opera is proud to be able to bring such a special night of beautiful music to suburban audiences in the newly refurbished Rockdale Town Hall.

DETAILS 

Rockdale Opera Company’s Gala Fundraising Concert will take place on Saturday April 8 at 7.30 pm at Rockdale Town Hall . The  ticket price of $60 includes a complimentary drink on arrival and a souvenir program.

Bookings can be made through http://www.rockdaleopera.com.au./

For more about Rockdale Opera Company Gala Fundraising Concert, visit http://www.rockdaleopera.com.au
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OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS THE AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF ‘KING ROGER’

The Sydney Festival  has introduced audiences to new, unique and unconventional theatrical experiences. In this spirit Opera Australia has staged a ‘new’ and never before performed in Australia opera, KING ROGER by Karol Szymanowski. When I say new Krol Roger ,as it is known in Polish, was first performed in Warsaw in 1926. The composer himself died in 1937.

Before I deal with the opera itself I feel that I should introduce the composer. Szymanowski was the son of a wealthy landowner in Poland which was then part of the Russian empire. His privileged status allowed him to travel widely from the United States to Vienna but his spiritual home was pre World War 1 Sicily. There was a large gay scene in Sicily at that time where Szymanowski was able to mix with such gay luminaries as Oscar Wilde.

It was also in Sicily that he discovered King Roger 11, a Norman King who ruled Sicily in the 12th Century. Being at the crossroads between Byzantine Christianity in the West and Greek hedonism and Paganism in the East, he imagined the conflicts the conflicts the King had to endure. This gave him the material to compose King Roger which Szymanowski called a Sicilian drama or Misterium, meaning spectacle. This may have hampered its popularity as an opera. However when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 he was rediscovered by the West.

The version which we see in Sydney and eventually Melbourne is a co-production with the Royal and Dallas Opera Companies and directed by Kasper Holten. In one of the most striking sets that I have ever seen, the first two Acts are dominated by a gigantic head. We are left in no doubt that this will be a psychodrama.

What I find especially compelling about this opera is that it can be interpreted on so many levels, especially due to the confluence of influences that Szymanowski was exposed to. One can see Sigmund Freud’s conflict between the ego and the id, the struggles Byzantine christianity had with works such as Euripides, The Bacchae, the inner conflict he, like many artists, endured, between his homosexuality and concealing it in less tolerant societies so as to remain acceptable. And of-course there is the direct experience he endured when, at first, seeing the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through ideologically romantic eyes to the scales falling from them when his family’s estate was seized and his treasured grand piano thrown into the lake by the Bolshevik in the early 1920s. Over the six years Szymanowski laboured on this opera, the latter experiences forced him to revise the final Act.

Act 1 starts spectacularly with the giant head with moving projections on its  surface to reflect King Roger’s public face. The Australian opera chorus perform from windows of a Colosseum arcing behind a giant bust. Gennadi Dubinsky and Dominica Matthews as the Archbishop and Deaconess whose lower registers bring a grim authority to their roles as prosecutors who have found a shepherd preaching hedonism. Both the religious leaders and the Chorus demand the death penalty for the shepherd with  melodies infused with Byzantine Christian choruses with Arabic refrains. James Egglestone as the King’s trusted advisor Edrisi is the voice of moderation counselling with the support of Rogerś wife Roxana to bring the shepherd before the people to plead his case. The Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu, whose thrilling tenor not only seduces the masses but also his new Sydney audience.

Act 2 sees the giant head revolved to symbolise the inner workings of Roger’s multi-storied mind. Sinewy, muscular dances, choreographed strikingly by Cathy Marston, ride below waiting to ensnare Roger to follow the shepherd. Roxana, Roger’s wife, played by Lorina Gore, whose burnished soprano pleads with Roger, played by Michael Honeyman, to follow her and join the Shepherd. The wraiths then descend to Roger and try and ensnare him and throw his books to the ground but Roger resists.

Act 3 sess Roger on trial after he ventures out and the book throwing becomes book burning as the chorus has now turned to the Shepherd/Prophet who has wrought nothing but destruction Roger is attacked by the crowd but Roxana yields to his pleas and comforts him. As the dawn breaks Roger feels the future is hopeful as he has rejected the Shepherd totally who now regards himself as a God.

In the original Act 3 Roger follows the Shepherd but with the events in europe and in particular Russia, provoke a different ending.

Michael Honeyman as Roger has a glorious baritone which ranges seemingly effortlessly from authority, inner conflict, to yearning and finally resignation.

Egglestone’s warm tenor perfectly complements Michael Honeyman’s baritone.

The score is a combination of seemingly incongruous melodies from Gregorian like chants, Eastern melodies, and dare I say it modern movie theme music. These are all beautifully harnessed by conductor Andrea Molino who does so without a musical score.

Director Kasper Holten has achieved the seemingly impossible by making opera lovers totally engrossed in the inner workings of a mind rather than the usual infidelity/betrayal and death motifs.

To add to the vividness of this spectacle, credit must also go to the lighting designer Jon Clark and the dazzling set  by Steffen Aarfing enhanced by the magnificent sound that it the Australian Opera chorus.

The efforts of the director and his team, the designers, and the soloists, have magnificently  rescued this operatic jewel and raised it to an operatic triumph. It should not have taken 90 years for Australian audiences to encounter Karol Szymanowski and his Roger. I have no doubt that this majestic production will be heard again in the future with greater frequency. This brave and potentially risky staging has become a masterstroke for Opera Australia. King Roger rules again.

The opera is sung in Polish with English surtitles. Running time 2 hours with one interval.

The remaining performances of KING ROGER are  on Wednesday 8th and 15th February at 7.30 pm and Saturday 11th February at 1 pm.

 

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci @ the JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA was the winner in an opera competition for its composer Pietro Mascagni and premiered in Rome in 1890. Its first American performance was held in New York in 1891 directed by Oscar Hammerstein, the grandfather of the great American lyricist. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci premiered in Milan in 1892. The two operas were performed together as early as 1893.

Opera lovers are a hungry lot & one short opera of say 1.5 hours is not long enough to satiate an operaphile’s  appetite. Due to their common themes of infidelity and revenge ‘Cav & Pag’, as they are affectionately known, have been performed regularly since the late 19th century.

Director Damiano Michieletto has brought his highly original Royal Opera production here from the UK. He sets both operas in the same village in around the 1950s and, unusually, the three male leads are played by the same singers – Diego Torre, Jose Carbo and Samuel Dundas. However the two female leads are different  – in Cavalleria Rusticana it’s Dragana Radakovic – in Pagliacci it’s Anna Princeva.

Diego Torre also makes this production especially distinctive as he is one of the very few tenors to sing the lead in both operas. He joins a unique club which includes Benjamino Gigli, Placido Domingo & Jonas Kaufmann,

Both productions have cross plots and with a triangulated set of scenes on a revolving stage doing away with the necessity of curtain raising and dropping means there is no loss of tension as both tragedies build to their inevitable crescendos.

With glorious arias, the wonderful voices of the Australian Opera Chorus and Children’s Choir, passionate & committed performances by the leads and with the Opera’s orchestra at full throttle under the musical direction of Andrea Licati. This production has had excellent word of mouth. A sellout season seems assured,

This Opera Australia production is playing the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until the 4th February.

 

 

Images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).

SYDNEY CHAMBER OPERA PRESENTS ‘BIOGRAPHICA’ @ BAY 20 CARRIAGEWORKS

Production photography by Prudence Upton.

This was  an excellent Sydney Festival event featuring the high quality Sydney Chamber Opera, accompanied by the Ensemble Offspring (Orchestra), presenting this new work by Mary Finsterer  with libretto by Tom Wright, formerly the long time Associate Director at the Sydney Theatre Company, directed by Janice Muller, and featuring a stellar cast including guest artist  Mitchell Butel, outstanding in the lead role, well supported by Jane Sheldon, Jessica O’Donoghue, Anna Fraser, Andrea Goodwin and Simon Lobelson. 

What made this concert particularly exciting for audiences was that such a high calibre team was presenting, a  multi-layered portrait of a  fascinating, eccentric historical figure, Garolamo Cardano (1501-1576), who few of  us knew about.

An Italian polymath, Cardano was one of the world’s great thinkers. He was not only the inventor of algebra, he was also a surgeon, gambler, philosopher, astrologer and heretic.

The work is presented in twelve intriguing scenes, each providing us with a different perspective on this brilliant, bizarre man.

Highly recommended, BIOGRAPHICA is playing Bay 20 at Carriageworks nightly at 7.30 pm until 13th January.

http://www.sydneyfeatival.org.au

 

 

PINCHGUT OPERA EXCELS AGAIN WITH HANDEL’S THEODORA @ RECITAL HALL

Those who are privileged to see Pinchgut opera’s current production of Handel’s Theodora are in for a treat. It is, I believe faultless in every aspect.

This opera, dated 1749, Handel considered his masterpiece even though it was a commercial failure.With a libretto by Thomas Morell, it concerns the suffering of Christian martyr, Theodora, at the hands of idol worshipping Roman president Valens in 4th century Antioch and is full of beautiful chorus work and some sublime arias.

Theodora, sung by Valda Wilson, Irene, sung by Caitlin Hulcup and Didymus sung by American counter tenor Christopher Lowrey,  all did full justice to this magnificent work, with convincing, passionate performances and superb vocal work. I thought Valda Wilson’s performance was perfect, being both a joy to listen to as well as being gorgeous to watch. ‘O thou bright sun’, her aria of despair as she faces rape and prostitution, was very moving and her final duet with Christopher Lowrey sung as their characters ascended to heaven, took the audience to heavenly spaces with them!

Caitlin Hulcup’s warm velvety mezzo soprano voice was also one of the highlights of the evening. There was a deep humanity to all the principals’ performances that moved me deeply. Continue reading PINCHGUT OPERA EXCELS AGAIN WITH HANDEL’S THEODORA @ RECITAL HALL

A NIGHT OF CZECH OPERA @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

Featured image – Frances Carlile and Kate Wilmot.

Rockdale Opera Company’s production of THE BARTERED BRIDE, a comic Czech opera, is a fine night’s entertainment.

The original version of the opera by Bedrich Smetana premiered in Prague in 1886 with the first English version at Sadlers Wells in 1935.

Director Luise Napier has very successfully updated the words to suit the present day and apart from some judicious cuts musical director Julia de Plater has maintained the music as originally composed.

The road sign for kangaroos, koalas in the tree and a dunny ensure there can be no mistaking the setting has been changed from the original Bohemian country village to a rural town in Australia. This shift works very well as it is a small Czech community celebrating May Day.  Much of the original culture is preserved such as a czech folk dance around a may pole, yet comic highlights are added with touches such as the dancing koala and the occasional use of a broad Australian accent.

The story involves the secret love between Mařenka and Jenik but as the villagers gather to celebrate the festivities of the day these two do not join in as Mařenka’s parents are arranging her marriage to Vasek, wealthy grazier Micha’s son. Continue reading A NIGHT OF CZECH OPERA @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY’S NEXT OPERA : THE BARTERED BRIDE

Rockdale Opera Company is to present four performances of Bedrich Smetana’s THE BARTERED BRIDE at Rockdale Town Hall in November.

Performances will take place on Saturdays 12th and 19th November at 7.30 pm and Sundays the 13th and 20th November at 2pm.

The opera is sung in English and has been given a fresh twist by setting it within a Czech community in rural Australia rather than in the composer’s native homeland. The production features colourful costumes, a maypole dance, talented young singers and beautiful music. It sounds like a perfect pre-Christmas treat!

Tickets are available – http://www.tickets4me.com.au
or by phone (02) 4730 6932. Door sales are also available, ample parking and good disabled access.

 

OPERANTICS PRESENTS LA SONNAMBULA BY BELLINI @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

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This was another extremely impressive production by Operantics, dazzlingly sung.

LA SONNAMBULA started began life in Paris in 1827 as a ballet, at the height of a craze for stage works featuring somnambulism. Bellini’s opera was first performed in 1831. Various stars who have performed in the demanding roles include Pasta, Malibran, Callas, Pavarotti and Sutherland. More recently there was the controversial production in 2009 at the Met in New York with French soprano Natalie Dessay. Opera Australia’s most recent production was in 2010 with Emma Matthews.

LA SONNAMBULA is one of the bel canto operas, those early nineteenth-century Romantic works by Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti and their counterparts that emphasise virtuoso and exquisite vocalism as distinct from concentrating on symphonic musical development or ‘’ naturalistic “ drama. Continue reading OPERANTICS PRESENTS LA SONNAMBULA BY BELLINI @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA SYDNEY PRESENTS PATIENCE @ SHORE SCHOOL NORTH SYDNEY

Dean Sinclair as Bunthorne Mitch Bryson as Grosvenor

Production Images by Ray Wing Lan.

An outstanding relatively ‘traditional ‘ version of this much loved Gilbert and Sullivan favourite is currently showing at Shore school North Sydney.

The operetta is named after a naive village milkmaid named Patience. With its counterfeit pop idols, lovesick ladies and macho military men it is still very contemporary. The play is a witty satire on the Aesthetic movement of the 1870s and ’80s in England and, more broadly, on superficiality, pretentiousness, fads, vanity and hypocrisy; it also satirises pastoral simplicity, romantic love and military bluster. Continue reading GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA SYDNEY PRESENTS PATIENCE @ SHORE SCHOOL NORTH SYDNEY

BARE BONES OPERA’S INAUGURAL CONCERT @ AUSTRALIAN PERFORMING ARTS GRAMMAR SCHOOL GLEBE

Bare Bones Opera said that “Opera has become bloated by big houses and even bigger budgets. It is our mission to explore the theatrical roots of opera as an art form, and to produce, perform, and facilitate, small scale opera that creates a big impact.”

Bare Bones Opera exceeded my expectations and provided two hours of must-see opera in Italian, German and Russian. They have the advantage of using an Intimate performance space. All the voices were bright and magnificent, and performances also benefited from the excellent acoustics of the auditorium.  The Sydney debut of  “Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia” was an audience pleaser, and exactly as intended, was played on the harpsichord.

Triple-bill including Rimsky-Korsakov’s almost verbatim operatic adaptation of Pushkin’s tale, alongside two of Mozart and Salieri’s own farcical works;  Der Schauspieldirektor   (Mozart   – 7 February 1786, KV 486)  and  Prima la Musica, Poi le Parole (Salieri  – 7 February 1786). These two  pieces were interestingly composed for the same competition, and debuted at the same time, in the same room.                  

Continue reading BARE BONES OPERA’S INAUGURAL CONCERT @ AUSTRALIAN PERFORMING ARTS GRAMMAR SCHOOL GLEBE

MOZART AND SALIERI – A TRIPLE BILL @ APGS GLEBE

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You know the story of the infamous (albeit highly fictionalised) rivalry between Mozart and Salieri. No doubt you have seen the late Peter Shaffer’s film adaptation of his own play, “Amadeus”, greatly inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s “little tragedy”, the dramatic poem “Mozart and Salieri”.

Let us take you a little closer to the source material.

We are excited to present a triple-bill including Rimsky-Korsakov’s almost verbatim operatic adaptation of Pushkin’s tale, alongside two of Mozart and Salieri’s own farcical works; Der Schauspieldirektor (Mozart) and Prima la Musica, Poi le Parole (Salieri). These pieces were interestingly composed for the same competition and debuted at the same time, in the same room!

As a special treat, it is also our utmost privilege to present, likely for the first time EVER here in Sydney, “Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia”; a piece of music composed by Mozart AND Salieri, with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte of Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan Tutte fame (to name just a few). Discovered only this year in the depths of the Czech National Museum, this piece was thought to be lost to the ages. We are delighted to be able to give it’s modern-day, Sydney debut.

Thursday, 4 August 2016 (PIANO PREVIEW) – 7:00PM
Tickets $20

ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCES:
Saturday, 6 August 2016 – 3:00PM
Sunday, 7 August 2016 – 3:00PM
Tickets $35 – includes complimentary afternoon tea

@ Australian Performing Arts Grammar School (APGS)- 255 Broadway, Glebe.

Event Organisers

Christopher Curcuruto – Bass-Baritone (PRODUCER), Laura King Soprano (PRODUCTION MANAGER) + Photo Credit

MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Jonathan Wilson

DIRECTORS:
Henry Shaw
Alex Robson
Rebecca Anne Coe

CAST:
Eugene Raggio
Joshua Oxley
Laura King
Zoe Drummond- Soprano
Imogen Faith Malfitano
Elizabeth Smalley
Jared David Lillehagen
Josh Rogers

ORCHESTRA:
Geist String Quartet
Sonia Wilson – Violin
Meg Cohen – Violin
Hayasa Tanaka – Viola
James Larsen – Vello
Jonathan Wilson – Piano and Spinet

This event is presented as a profit-share joint venture; by artists, for artists.

SYDNEY ARTS GUIDE HAS 5 DOUBLE PASSES TO GIVE AWAY TO THE PERFORMANCE THIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT 3 pm. TO ENTER THE COMPETITION EMAIL THE EDITOR ON editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com .

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ‘ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD’

Rockdale Opera Company (2) (1)

Rockdale Opera Society’s production of ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD won’t disappoint in any respect. It is filled with love, hatred, betrayal, murder and scandal. With a story like this, set to Offenbach’s divine score, sung by a highly talented cast supported by a polished orchestra, this is a highly entertaining and dramatic night at the theatre.

ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD by Jacques Offenbach, originally premiered in Paris in 1858 in two Acts as an ‘opera bouffon’ to a libretto by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. The work was later revised as an ‘opéra-féerie’ in four Acts in 1874 and it’s this version that the Rockdale Opera Society presents. The new English translation is by Greg Condon, Christopher Hamilton, James McCarthy and Simone Young with some revisions by Ralph Bott adding to the comedy and orchestrated by Jon Smith. Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ‘ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD’

MOZART AND SALIERI – A TRIPLE BILL @ AUSTRALIAN PERFORMING ARTS GRAMMAR SCHOOL GLEBE

Mozart and Saleri (1)

THREE PERFORMANCES ONLY
You know the story of the infamous (albeit highly fictionalised) rivalry between Mozart and Salieri. No doubt you have seen the late Peter Shaffer’s film adaptation of his own play, “Amadeus”, greatly inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s “little tragedy”, the dramatic poem “Mozart and Salieri”.

Let us take you a little closer to the source material.

We are excited to present a triple-bill including Rimsky-Korsakov’s almost verbatim operatic adaptation of Pushkin’s tale, alongside two of Mozart and Salieri’s own farcical works; Der Schauspieldirektor (Mozart) and Prima la Musica, Poi le Parole (Salieri). These pieces were interestingly composed for the same competition and debuted at the same time, in the same room!

As a special treat, it is also our utmost privilege to present, likely for the first time EVER here in Sydney, “Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia”; a piece of music composed by Mozart AND Salieri, with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte of Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan Tutte fame (to name just a few). Discovered only this year in the depths of the Czech National Museum, this piece was thought to be lost to the ages. We are delighted to be able to give it’s modern-day, Sydney debut.

Thursday, 4 August 2016 (PIANO PREVIEW) – 7:00PM
Tickets $20

ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCES:
Saturday, 6 August 2016 – 3:00PM
Sunday, 7 August 2016 – 3:00PM
Tickets $35 – includes complimentary afternoon tea

EVENT ORGANISERS:
Christopher Curcuruto – Bass-Baritone (PRODUCER)
Laura King Soprano (PRODUCTION MANAGER) + Photo Credit

MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Jonathan Wilson

DIRECTORS:
Henry Shaw
Alex Robson
Rebecca Anne Coe

CAST:
Eugene Raggio
Joshua Oxley
Laura King
Zoe Drummond- Soprano
Imogen Faith Malfitano
Elizabeth Smalley
Jared David Lillehagen
Josh Rogers

ORCHESTRA:
Geist String Quartet
Sonia Wilson – Violin
Meg Cohen – Violin
Hayasa Tanaka – Viola
James Larsen – Vello
Jonathan Wilson – Piano and Spinet

This event is presented as a profit-share joint venture; by artists, for artists.

Special thanks to the Academy of Music and Performing Arts – AMPA and Felt Tip Theatre Company for their support.

DATES
4 August 2016 at 7:00PM, 6 and 7 August 2016 at 3:00pm

For more about Mozart and Salieri – a triple bill, visit
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OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS PROKOFIEV’S FOR LOVE OF ORANGES @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

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BenLens11All images by Ben Apfelbaum.

Sergei Prokofiev was undertaking a successful tour in the US when he was asked by the Chicago Symphony to compose an opera. In 1921 it was performed in the States and in 1926 in Russia. Because it had an unappealing script for the time, it was the antithesis of Puccini’s realism and contained no arias, and it was poorly received. However, this opera reflected the art movement of the time absorbing the fragmentation of Picasso and the surrealism of Dali.

Thank goodness it was revived in 1949 in the States by which time public taste had caught up with its avant garde satire and since then the opera has been regularly performed by a opera companies around the world.

The plot defies a short synopsis but in the Opera Australia production suffice it to say, it is a combination of nineteen twenties movie star allusions, the commedia dell’arte and Alice In Wonderland.

There is a cranky witch Fata Morgana played by Antoinette Halloran who looks like Gloria Swanson, and  a clown Truffaldino played by Kanen Breen, whose warm bass added extra comedy to his zany character. There are characters dressed as cards and harlequins like those encountered by Alice, a  princess with a rats head, and dancing cacti.

The multi hued set design by George Tsypin combined with the crisp direction of Francesca Zambello facilitates the speed and ever nonsensical absurdist passage of the piece to its happy ever after conclusion.

Zambello’s set and the costumes by Tanya Noginova are a riot of colour and the singers sometimes perform from impossibly awkward positions without any diminution of volume and quality.

The farce is overseen by a Lord Of The  Rings type eye or perhaps it is a reference to the eye in Luis Bunuel’s and Salvador Dali’s UN CHIEN ANDALOU.

Rosario La Spina as the hypochondriacal and obsessive Prince is unexpectedly  comedic (due to his casting in more solemn operas) and brings a warmth to his character with his lovely tenor voice.

Julie Lea Goodwin’s sweet soprano complements her character beautifully as the heroine Princess Ninetta.

I mentioned Kanen Breen’s extraordinary clown performance,  but really all the Company must be congratulated on the excellence of their acting abilities which ranged from an S and M dominatrix through to a humongous fat cook.

Like last years’ A Turk In Italy and this years’ Barber of Saville, both by Rossini, this superb production  is a comic triumph.

Running time is 2 hours 15 minutes including one twenty minute interval.

Prokofiev’s FOR LOVE OF ORANGE is playing the Joan Sutherland theatre, Sydney Opera House until July 9.

https://opera.org.au/whatson/events/the-love-for-three-oranges

 

 

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD

Rockdale Opera Company presents 4 performances of Jacques Offenbach’s satirical operetta ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD at Rockdale Town Hall, corner Bryant Street and Princess Street, on 30 and 31 July and 6 and 7 August. The Saturday night performances begin at 7.30pm and the Sunday matinees at 2pm.

Enjoy a delightful and irreverent romp through Greek mythology as Offenbach turns the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice on its head! From Thebes to Mt Olympus and down into Hades, Offenbach takes the audience on a sublime musical journey, including the origins of the Can-Can!

Tickets are available at the door and through Tickets4me-  02 4730 6932.

DATES
30 July @ 7.30pm, 31 July @ 2pm, 6 August @ 7.30pm, 7 August @ 2pm.

For more about Orpheus in the Underworld, visit http://www.rockdalopera.com.au
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FREDDIE HILL’S NEW OPERA ‘THE WATER BABIES’ @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

WaterBabies

This was presented in a very impressive semi staged ‘’ workshop “ version of the amazing new opera composed by Freddie Hill based on the classic children’s book by Charles Kingsley.  The cast sat in rows of chairs onstage when not performing.

THE WATER BABIES tells the story of Tom, a persecuted chimney sweep who slips under the water.  The story comments on the harshness of Victorian society, child labour and the ethics of the time.

Musically it is contemporary is style and multifaceted. It includes elements of jazz, Victorian music hall, Sondheim, perhaps Sullivan and the atonality of Schoenberg. Some of it ripples and bubbles, other parts include lyrical ballads and exciting ensemble work. Hill’s wonderful score was energetically conducted by Rowen Fox, who also also had a minor acting role as Ellie’s tutor, and finely played by an excellent small orchestra gathered on the stage. Continue reading FREDDIE HILL’S NEW OPERA ‘THE WATER BABIES’ @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

CON OPERA : THE FAIRY QUEEN @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Night

Above: Jessie Wilson in the role of Night. Featured Image: The Cast of Con Opera’s The Fairy Queen. Photos by Prudence Upton

The keen delivery of dramatic and musical elements in Con Opera’s current production of THE FAIRY QUEEN by Henry Purcell elegantly enlivens this work for us. It is a fine showcase for the current students of opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The seventeenth-century masques which originally entertained royalty by elaborating aspects of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream here maintain effective individual and collective character. There is a re-ordering of the material which works well as we are caught up in a satisfying swoop towards the final happiness of Purcell’s semi-opera.

This production is a visual treat with memorable tableaux and colourful, well-crafted action sequences. Within the three walls of an evocative composite set alluding to natural and indoor objects, stylish simplicity meets lush detail. The supernatural identities amongst the cast are suitably swathed in glittering gowns and innovatively patterned suits.

These successful costume designs by Isabella Andronos complement her set design which blends the enchanted wood with a salon turned upside down as supernatural beings get close to the mortals. Headpieces, costume fabrics and props successfully magnify the essence of each being onstage, whether they are fairies or gods.

Director Elsie Edgerton-Till ensures we are exposed to pleasing, self-contained characterisations and some spellbinding scenes. Vibrant exchanges and impressive entrances are features of each themed masque. Group scenes are fluid and never crowded in their blocking.

The orchestra is in the experienced hands of Associate Professor Neal Peres da Costa, chair of Sydney Conservatorium’s Historical Performance Unit. Purcell’s varied score is brought entertainingly to life.

The composer’s use of fanfare-like chorus declamations both before us and offstage are well realised. They successfully punctuate the opera with clarity and a joyous tone. Music for choreographer Daniella Lacob’s revival of period dance and other stage frivolities is effectively paced to assist the movement.

The shifts to moments of measured, intimate music are nicely executed. Relatively hushed but solid accompaniments such as the music beneath Titiana’s O Let Me Weep and Night’s See,See Even Night Herself Is Here create a rich tapestry over which the soprano voices can further weave expressive magic.

The sixteen characters presented in Purcell’s semi-opera are portrayed with continued individuality, colour, focus and energy. The students exhibit significant stage presence and calibre of acting as the masques unfold with agreeable momentum and interactions.

Chris Bryg’s Oberon is an excellent example of such  exuberance. He makes full use of the stage and dramatic opportunities. Decked out in a shiny gold suit, he communicates always with a penetrating voice. Thomas Marshall’s Phoebus also exhibits impressive pomp as he moves with resolve around many parts of the set. He sings with poise and with a promising tenor tone.

True operatic highlights come from sopranos Imogen Malfitano (as Titiana) and Jessie Wilson (as Night). Their gentle moments of controlled vocal line and mood are exquisitely executed. Malfitano’s vocal control and dramatic sensibilities make the expression of Oh Let Me Weep following her character’s loss of mortal affection a memorable part of this production.

Jessie Wilson delivers a commanding and confident performance as Night, especially when singing See, See Even Night Herself is Here, which follows an eye-catching entrance in night-themed gown and spectacular headpiece. She is arguably one of the most polished and watchable rising opera stars in this production.

The combined efforts of enthusiastic cast and insightful creatives enable audiences to sample one of Purcell’s popular entertainments in fresh style. With clever, quality production values it spoils the senses.

THE FAIRY QUEEN plays at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on May 17 and May 19 at 6:30pm. Its run concludes with a 2pm matinee on May 21.

 

OPERANTICS PRESENTS MANSFIELD PARK @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

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Production photography by John Kilkeary

It was with much interest that I went to see the Australian premiere  production of MANSFIELD PARK, a chamber opera adaptation of Jane Austen’s timeless novel. I am happy to report that it was wonderful! A really fun night!

The adaptation by Jonathon Dove with libretto by Alasdair Middleton sticks closely to the original story by Jane Austen, but suppresses some side plots with Tom the older brother etc. The only issue I had with the selected parts was that one of the love interests (Mr Yates) is mentioned but never seen, even though he plays a key part at the end. However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the performance. Continue reading OPERANTICS PRESENTS MANSFIELD PARK @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY