All posts by Paul Nolan

Paul Nolan was born on the New South Wales North Coast. He has been involved with musical theatre and choral groups on the NSW North Coast and in Sydney. Paul has had poetry published in various periodicals. He is trained in classical piano and has a Bachelor of Music from the UNSW.

OPERA AUSTRALIA : LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Above : Giorgio Carduro as Enrico and John Longmuir as Arturo with the Opera Australia chorus. Photo: Prudence Upton                                                      Featured image : Jessica Pratt as Lucia and Michael Fabiano as Edgardo. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

Opera Australia’s current production of the Italian opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti is a focussed and brooding affair. It is a triumph of the genre’s potential for tension and emotional tortures packaged in a visual, vocal and atmospheric spectacle. This is a co-production with Houston Grand Opera, where it was first performed in 2011, and Teatro La Fenice. The opera is performed in a revival production with hypnotic tableaux and a rich musical interaction between orchestra and powerhouse voices.

It is a dark and dramatically delectable serving up of Donizetti’s streamlined retelling of the grisly tale of feuding Scottish clans and a manipulated female caught in the centre of family machinations. Such ominous themes and tales are taken from Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘The Bride of Lammermoor’ from 1819. Salvatore Cammarano’s opera libretto was first heard in Donizetti’s work in 1835 and are here chillingly realised on our 2018 stage. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

THE MARAIS PROJECT : A BASS AFFAIR @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Above: Soprano Josie Ryan and Tommie Andersson – lutes, baroque guitar and theorbo.                     Featured image : Jennifer Eriksson, viola da gamba and Tim Blomfield, bass violin.

Any concert event from The Marais Project is joyous as well as being a richly educational and diverse entertainment. ‘A Bass Affair’ at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music celebrated this tradition and historically informed performance goals. Gambist Jennifer Eriksson once more assembled early music performers of high calibre and nicely contrasted music from the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries.

The music was presented for us using a wealth of timbres from the combination of guest Tim Blomfield’s bass violin, Jennifer Eriksson’s viola da gamba, Josie Ryan’s soprano voice, and from Tommie Andersson playing no less than two lutes, baroque guitar and theorbo.

An exciting part of this concert was the first time collaboration at a Marais Project concert of Eriksson’s viola da gamba and Blomfield’s bass violin. The two instruments blended keenly and helped highlight the character and communicative strengths of each other’s musical identity so popular in French musical history. Continue reading THE MARAIS PROJECT : A BASS AFFAIR @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : SERENADE @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE, NORTH SYDNEY

Tenor Daniel Belle sang opera and musical theatre hits with TMO strings.

This concert showcased the precision and expressive power of The Metropolitan Orchestra Strings, both on their own and in collaboration with successful tenor Daniel Belle. The flexibility of TMO strings and this singer enabled the programme to shift smoothly from a late nineteenth century work for strings through to popular opera and musical theatre pieces delivered with a comfortable cabaret feel.

TMO strings explored the music of Czech composer Josef Suk in his lush and mostly well-humoured Serenade in E flat major Op 6 (1892).  They opened this concert with a consistently rich and well balanced sound across the ensemble. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : SERENADE @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE, NORTH SYDNEY

THE CREATION : SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS @ SYDNEY TOWN HALL

Above: Conductor of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Brett Weymark. (©Keith-Saunders)            Featured image  by Michael Corridore.

A glorious performance with great storytelling oratorio fare resulted when Sydney Philharmonia Choirs collaborated very successfully for the first time with The Metropolitan Orchestra. They were joined by soloists Taryn Fiebig (soprano), Nicholas Jones (tenor) and Jud Arthur (bass).

The Creation Hob. XXI:2 by Haydn contains the composer’s unique brand of drama and ability to conjure up environments and creatively convey rousing feelings. Conductor Brett Weymark was in expert control of grading these elements. Overplaying or singing too early in the well- paced interpretation was avoided.

In this concert, the progression of this story with its text from sources including the Bible’s Old Testament and Psalms set to music grew from a crisp, clear and subtle beginning to later climaxes with all forces of immense and awesome proportions. These memorable moments resounded through the Town Hall venue, thrilling the audience and punctuating the three sections of this work. Continue reading THE CREATION : SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS @ SYDNEY TOWN HALL

CON OPERA : LES MAMELLES DE TERESIAS @ MUSIC WORKSHOP, SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Above : Esther Song gives a fiery and vocally agile performance as Therese/Teresias. Featured image: ensemble cast in bright costume and set environment. Photo credit : Clare Hawley

Here is a significant event from Con Opera, enabling us to enjoy a rarely heard opera by Poulenc. This colourful romp  celebrates the play by Guillaume Apollinaire and Francis Poulenc’s skill as a composer of vocal music for the stage. The production values are high, resulting in a joyous and visually excellent entertainment.

Les Mamelles de Téresias, set in the fictitious French Riviera location of Zanzibar, was premiered in 1947 with the atrocities of WWII still fresh in the minds of many.

Its themes of change, defiance, ambition, gender equality, challenging the status quo, or rebuilding society with real and symbolic babies were poignant for its time. The approach to such material in this production also makes it keenly relevant to assorted  tensions and urgencies of our modern times. Continue reading CON OPERA : LES MAMELLES DE TERESIAS @ MUSIC WORKSHOP, SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY CHOIR : THE SEASONS @ THE CONCOURSE

Above : Musical Director of the Willoughby Symphony Choir, Peter Ellis.                                         Featured image : Willoughby Symphony Choir at The Concourse Chatswood.

Willoughby Symphony Choir, Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and soloists under the vibrant directorship of Peter Ellis delivered a joyous performance of Haydn’s colourful oratorio The Seasons.

The concert hall at The Concourse in Chatswood reverberated with the sheer excitement and power of this choir. Haydn’s characteristic gift for direct, exuberant and evocative musical painting of
scenes or situations was exploited to the utmost in energetic performances from choir, orchestra and three talented storytelling soloists. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY CHOIR : THE SEASONS @ THE CONCOURSE

ACACIA QUARTET : ITALIAN SERENADE @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

Above : Acacia Quartet (l to r) Stefan Duwe,-viola, Lisa Stewart- violin, Anna Martin-Scrase-cello, Myee Clohessy-violin. All photos : Chris Donaldson.

This latest concert by Acacia Quartet  featured dynamic works  from the late nineteenth century and beyond. The selected works showcased the  Acacia Quartet members’ ensemble skills and highly empathetic communication with each other as they performed deeply emotional, descriptive, complex and intricate music.

In this consistently beautiful programme  we were also introduced to some of the few chamber music works written by opera composers Puccini and Verdi. Acacia Quartet showed it had all of the required resources to deliver to us in chamber format the musical scope, drama, delicate turn of phrase and depth of feeling typically found emanating from an opera theatre’s stage. Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET : ITALIAN SERENADE @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : PASSION @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL ABC CENTRE

Above: TMO’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with TMO Principal Trumpet Jenna Smith, who was concerto soloist in this concert.

The four works in The Metropolitan Orchestra’s Met Concert #2 were rich in passion, drama and energy. This came from their musical origins of the opera stage or periods or locations featuring strong nationalism in composition. From opera, music popular from Rossini’s William Tell and Bizet’s Carmen bookended the programme with familiar material.

TMO employed their typically high calibre of concert delivery to recreate classic opera theatre scenes and sounds for us. The centre of the concert introduced us to lesser-known but no less passionate
compositions by Alexander Arutunian and György Ligeti. These works were rich in tension, national flavour and deeply emotional display. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : PASSION @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL ABC CENTRE

OMEGA ENSEMBLE : ETERNAL QUARTETS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Above : Omega Ensemble members play Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps at City Recital Hall. Featured image: string quartet from the concert’s first half- Alexandra Osborne, Airena Nakamura, Neil Thompson and Paul Stender. Photo credit : David Vagg.

The latest Omega Ensemble concert triumphed by presenting three well-known and loved works of the chamber miusic repertoire. All quartets have stood the test of time and are something of landmark compositions in their respective styles.

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings began the event. This interpretation was full of beautifully measured organic growth. The performers resisted any temptation for overplaying in the opening
sections. As with all works throughout the evening, moments of hushed and restrained playing were true highlights of the programme. This exploration of the lower dynamic levels succeeded in the responsive City Recital Hall acoustic. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE : ETERNAL QUARTETS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

MUSICA VIVA PRESENTS AVI AVITAL & GIOCOSO STRING QUARTET @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Above: Giocoso String Quartet. (l to r) : Bas Jongen, cello, Sebastian Casleanu, violin, Martha Windhagauer, viola, Teofil Todica, violin. Featured image: mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital.

International guests Giocoso Quartet and mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital collaborated successfully in this Musica Viva national concert tour. Their unique and rarely heard string ensemble presented contemporary music effectively, and they were much appreciated by this Sydney audience. Separately they also delivered fresh interpretations of concert stage classics.

As a typical Musica Viva event, the concert also included a World Premiere of an Australian work as the result of a commission. The composition for mandolin and string quartet was by none other than popular Sydney-based composer Elena Kats-Chernin. It exploited the tone colours of the assembled string family members, with often prolonged spellbinding results. Continue reading MUSICA VIVA PRESENTS AVI AVITAL & GIOCOSO STRING QUARTET @ CITY RECITAL HALL

WOOLLAHRA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ ST COLUMBA UNITING CHURCH

Above : Conductor Umberto Clerici led the WPO in two concerts. Featured image: Members of the WPO, Umberto Clerici and cello soloist Daniel Pini

This concert, Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra’s first for 2018, was a repeat of the sellout performance from the preceding day. It was a musical event containing a string of satisfying ‘firsts’. Dynamic conductor Umberto Clerici made his public conducing debut with this substantial programme. Cellist Daniel Pini played as concerto soloist for the first time with WPO, and the orchestra gave John Rutter’s work Five Meditations for Orchestra its Australian premiere. Continue reading WOOLLAHRA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ ST COLUMBA UNITING CHURCH