Above: Warwick Fyfe as Sancho Panza with ensemble members. Featured image: Elena Maximova with cast as Dulcinea (La Belle Dulcinee). Photo credit: Prudence Upton

Massenet’s setting of the Don Quixote tale and legend brings to Sydney a new production for Opera Australia and a unique version of this popular story. Here, themes of the deluded ‘knight’ from La Mancha as an outsider and the fatal pains of love unrequited are brought to the fore in the place of excessive ridicule of the title character. The results are charming, elegant and atmospheric. This opera explores human emotion alongside the comedy. Continue reading DON QUICHOTTE @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Rendezvous at Orlofsky’s: Rockdale Opera in Cabaret

RENDEZVOUS AT ORLOFSKY’S CABARET is a program of well-known arias, songs, ensembles and choruses from opera, operetta and Gilbert and Sullivan presented by the Rockdale Opera Company Ensemble and an extremely talented group of young principals. Continue reading Rendezvous at Orlofsky’s: Rockdale Opera in Cabaret


This image:Ji-Mn Park as Alfredo in Opera Australia’s La Traviata.                                                                Banner Image: Nicole Car as Violetta
Photos: Prudence Upton

Lush ,lavish and opulent this is a superb revival of the glorious 1994 production by Elijah Moshinksy and there was great excitement as it marked Nicole Car’s debut in the role of Violetta.

Shocking and scandalous at the time of its 1853 premiere, the now classic tale of poor Violetta and Alfredo, of Consumption and thwarted true love is based on a Dumas novel. Moshinsky , Yeargan and Hall set it in 1877 – so think bustles rather than crinolines and the start of the ‘Belle Epoque’. Yeargan’s designs are themed around the seasons.  Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA LA TRAVIATA


Calling out to all past and present members of Rockdale Opera Company!  [Facebook] The company is seeking photos and memories of past productions from anyone who has shared time with them over the last 70 years.

The memorabilia drive is towards a 70th Anniversary Book as a record of the company’s history.

Hope Sydney Arts Guide’s search can help too.

Send your photos and written memories via email only to


Production photography by Prudence Upton.

Opera Australia’s sophisticated and yet accessible production of Carmen has something for everyone. Opera aficionados who feel they have seen it all will enjoy and appreciate the insightful and adroit directorship of theatre legend John Bell. Opera novices will be entertained by the near musical theatre level of dancing and acrobatics, as well as chuffed to recognise many of the tunes. Continue reading ‘CARMEN’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


Royal Opera House 2017/18 Live Cinema Season begins in February with RIGOLETTO.

Featuring filmed performances from the world-renowned Royal Opera House in London, the program presents the very best opera and ballet from the iconic venue, captured in jaw-dropping detail for Australian audiences to enjoy as if they were there themselves. Continue reading ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LIVE CINEMA SEASON


The Apollo Opera Collective is an exciting new opera company presenting Baroque works with Australia’s best young voices.

Led by Artistic Director Keiren Brandt Sawdy, Assistant Conductor of Pinchgut Opera and a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s conducting program, AOC aims to provide a much needed platform for talented young artists to develop the expertise to launch their careers. The company is entirely driven by the artists themselves, who work collaboratively on all the different aspects of staging the opera. Continue reading APOLLO OPERA COLLECTIVE: TO PRESENT HANDEL’S ARIODANTE


Above: Alexander Lewis and Danielle de Niese as Danilo Danilovich and Hanna Glavari. Featured image: Danielle de Niese and male ensemble.

It is a challenge to present a modern public with something of a soap-operetta like The Merry Widow. This light work profiles gender, marriage and loyalty to a small state very specifically and in a contrasting way to our contemporary approach.

However, the cast and creatives at Opera Australia, and Lehár’s direct and beautiful score as interpreted with infectious lilt by Vanessa Scammell save the day in this regard. The attractive, engaging production spills over us with sumptuous momentum, visual delights and a dazzling, physicality to the storytelling. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA: THE MERRY WIDOW @ DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE


Sian Pendry is one of the stars of Opera Australia’s annual Mazda Opera in the Domain.

A stellar line up of Australia’s finest opera singers and musical talents will gather under the stars on Saturday 13 January 2018 to perform at Opera Australia’s annual Mazda Opera in the Domain.

Attracting a record crowd of more than 24,000 people earlier this year, Mazda Opera in the Domain is proving to be the ultimate Sydney summer experience. Continue reading BRIGHTEST OPERA STARS UNDER THE STARS


Sian Pendry, Dragana Radakovich and Emma Matthews perform the Opera Gala on New Year’s Eve.
Photo: Ken Leanfore.

Ringside seats to one of the greatest shows on earth are hard to come by but Opera Australia has some of the best in town, when they take over both the Joan Sutherland Theatre and the Concert
Hall in the Sydney Opera House to stage two sensational performances right in the middle of the action. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA’S NYE GLITZ AND GLAMOUR

Royal Secret – 2017 Christmas Opera Show

This 2017 Christmas Opera Show will have something for everyone in your family!

FREE for Kids ages 12 and under!

You are invited to experience:

– Beautiful original Royal Secret story infused with famous and most loved Opera arias
– The stunning voices of Opera Australia, The Voice and Sydney Conservatorium of Music performers
– One of the oldest organs in Sydney in a fascinating acoustic atmosphere
– Elegance and charm of the antique architecture

15:00 pm – doors open
15:30 – 16:00 – guests engagement
16:15 – 17:30 – “Royal Secret” performance
17:30 – 18:00 – meet your artists.

Gennadi Dubinsky
Viktoria Bolonina
Giuseppina Anna Grech
Brendan de la Hay


Book your tickets fast before they all go!

Proudly presented by Viktora.Show

10 December 2017 3pm – 6pm

For more about Royal Secret – 2017 Christmas Opera Show, visit https://www.viktoria.show/events/royal-secret-2017-christmas-opera-show-in-town-hall


Above, left to right: Tristan Entwistle plays Papageno,  Joshua Oxley in the role of Tamino with the Three Ladies Sitong Liu, Viktoria Bolonina and Jia Yao Sun. Featured image: the Three Spirits move  about the Egyptian-themed set. Photo credit – Christopher Hayles 

The latest fully staged production to showcase the talents of opera students at Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a slick revival of THE MAGIC FLUTE, Mozart’s final opera, as once performed and toured by Opera Australia. In an entertaining and colourful depiction of the singspiel’s  varied characters and concerns, the cast energetically recreate Michael Gow’s version, set in a Raiders of the Lost Ark-like Egyptian pyramid or tomb vault labyrinth. Continue reading CON OPERA : THE MAGIC FLUTE @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

When Led Up The Garden Path: Operantics stage Mozart’s’ La Finta Giardiniera’

One of Mozart’s lesser-known operas (written at eighteen!) LA FINTA GIARDINIERA is the story of men who throw a tantrum when women don’t want them.

Before I submit any statement on the performance itself, may I just say that I could empty the Champs Elysées and still not be half as attractive as The Independent Theatre. It is a hall of cream, gold and mahogany swirls, mazes and other such intricate embellishments. Each trimming is beguilingly summoned by another as per the Art Deco style. The high point, pun intended, is the ceiling. I also love the columns framing the stage with those fantastic metallic touches! #venuecrush

Now, back to angry men. Continue reading When Led Up The Garden Path: Operantics stage Mozart’s’ La Finta Giardiniera’


Rockdale Opera Company’s final production for the year is an opera double bill.

Gaetano Donizetti’s IL CAMPANELLO is a comedy about the most interrupted wedding night anyone could imagine, whilst Giacomo Puccini’s SUOR ANGELICA, the tragic tale of a Mother’s love for the baby she was forced to give up, will be sure to tear at your heart strings. Angelica’s famous aria “Senza Mamma” is one of Puccini’s most touching compositions.

November 11, 18 @ 7.30pm 12,19 @ 2.00pm at Rockdale Town Hall.

Musical Director – Steven Stanke
Directors – Joe Restubog (Il Campanello) & Ralph Bott (Suor Angelica).

For more about Double Bill of Comedy & Tragedy: Il Campanello and Suor Angelica, visit http://www.rockdaleopera.com.au/
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Operantics presents ‘La Finta Giardiniera’

Independent young artist opera company, Operantics, presents Mozart’s ‘La Finta Giardiniera’ this October for a limited season at the Independent Theatre.

Sandrina (aka Marchioness Violante Onesti) is La Finta Giardiniera: betrayed and abandoned by her lover, Count Belfiore, and now courted by the local Mayor who believes her to be one of his gardeners. His maid, Serpetta, strings along Sandrina’s manservant, Nardo, while ambitiously pursuing her boss. Meanwhile, the Mayor’s niece, Arminda, has left her suitor, Don Ramiro, and arrives at her uncle’s house to marry none other than Belfiore…

Nothing is as it seems in this opera full of love triangles, disguises, intrigue and emotional upheaval – complemented with beautiful music performed by the next generation of Australia’s operatic artists.

The Independent Theatre
269 Miller St, North Sydney

Performance dates:
Friday, October 6th at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 7th at 7:30pm
Sunday, October 8th at 7:30pm

Children: $15, Students: $25, Concession: $35, Adults: $45


Friday October 6th at 7:30pm, Saturday October 7th at 7:30pm, Sunday October 8th at 4:30pm

For more about Operantics presents ‘La Finta Giardiniera’, visit http://www.operantics.com.au
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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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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


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’


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.


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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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



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.


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


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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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.


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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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.