Opera

REFLECTIONS OF OPERA IN CINEMA @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

 

Cabaret

Rockdale Opera Company presents: REFLECTIONS OF OPERA IN CINEMA, A CABARET.  This will be a cabaret celebration of musical highlights of Opera in Cinema Featuring Megan Chalmers, Nik Roglich, Julie Paik and many more, accompanied by the Rockdale Opera Company ensemble.

DATE FOR THE DIARY 
Saturday 13th April 2019 at 2pm and 7.30pm at Rockdale Town HalL, 448 Princess Highway, Rockdale.

For more about Reflections in Opera in Cinema Cabaret, visit http://rockdaleopera.com.au
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PIANO EX MACHINA COMING SOON TO THE CON

 

photo credit Raphael Neal

PIANO EX MACHINA is the latest mind-bending piano and multimedia international tour by award-winning London-based pianist, Zubin Kanga. Kanga returns to Australia this April to perform newly commissioned ground-breaking works exploring video games, internet culture, 80s action cinema, sci-fi, 3D motion sensors, interactive visuals, analogue synths, stop-motion animation and Artificial Intelligence.

Following his acclaimed 2015 DARK TWIN and 2016 CYBORG PIANIST tour, Zubin Kanga returns in a program of ground-breaking works for piano and multimedia by some of the hottest composers from around the world.

DATE FOR THE DIARY
13 April 2019 7.30pm-9.30pm at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

For more about Zubin Kanga’s Australian premiere of Piano Ex Machina, visit https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/piano-ex-machina-sydney-tickets-58007621357
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CHAMBER POT OPERA RETURNS TO SYDNEY

Following seasons in Adelaide, Edinburgh and St Petersburg, Russia, CHAMBER POT OPERA returns to Sydney to play in Australia’s foremost Opera venue, the Sydney Opera House for its final season, commencing 11 April 2019. Tickets went on sale on Friday 22 February.

 CHAMBER POT OPERA tells the story of three women who meet for the first time in a public bathroom. One is in an abusive relationship, another is terrified that she has come on too strong on a date, and the third has been promoted through the glass ceiling to land her dream job. Together they sing of shared histories, traumas and fantasies using a catalogue of popular music from the operas of Puccini, Mozart and Bizet.

The production will be performed  for only 42 audience members at a time in the elegant Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House. The three performers will utilise the entirety of the splendid and intimate space from the bathroom sinks and decorative mirrors to the hand dryers and toilet stalls to weave together a story in a setting where women can safely express themselves.

Originally performed in November 2016, this new season of CHAMBER POT OPERA Is due in no small part to the Sydney Opera House’s commitment to creating new operas for contemporary audiences as well as its commitment to fostering new, young, and exciting artistic talent.

CHAMBER POT OPERA features a talented team of singers and creatives from NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Created by director Clemence Williams (Banging Denmark), musical director Keiren Brandt-Sawdy (Mansfield Park) and dramaturg Thomas De Angelis (Unfinished Works) and with a cast including Sally Alrich-Smythe (The Phantom of the Opera), Britt Lewis (Rent) and Jessica Westcott (La Boheme), this production brings together Australia’s next generation of opera performers and creators.

Director and co-creator Clemence Williams says that this season “is the culmination of three years of touring the world and bringing our message of the timelessness and beauty of opera to the masses, one bathroom at a time!” The idea for the show came from Williams’ own experience being a performer confined to the ‘bitches, witches and breeches’ roles in opera.

http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com.au

OPERA AUSTRALIA : SALOME @ DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Above: Gennadi Dubinsky as First Soldier, Paul O’Neill as Narraboth, Alexander Krasnov as Jokanaan, Lise Windstorm as Salome, Ryan Sharp as Second Solider and Alexander Hargreaves as Cappadocian. Featured image: Lise Lindstrom as Salome. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

A visually stunning and musically riveting version of Richard Strauss’ Salome is now playing at the Sydney Opera House’s Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre. Opera Australia’s revival of this 2012
production is a compelling modern romp. The quality creative team and cast deliver a slick and penetrating performance event to us on a scintillating platter.

Presented without interval, this focussed tranche d’opera is an attractive package for all assembled. Vivid set design from Brian Thomson works very well with John Rayment’s relentlessly excellent lighting so the scandalous, self-centered and seedy world of Herod, Herodias and the manipulative young Salome are appropriately packaged.

There is a captivating rear tapestry with repeated full body x-rays which respond in savage mood-ring-like lighting sequences to reflect the manipulation of the sacrificial beast or prophet and the hysteria levels of other cast members. From a steamily lit cell comes John the Baptist’s voice foretelling the arrival of Jesus Christ to help the Tetrach Herod and other lusty punters repent.

The conflicts of faith, behaviour and persecution or imprisonments various on this layered stage set for this Biblical tale are many. This opera requires a troupe of fine character actors to satisfactorily
depict the predicament of all trapped dramatis personae from Oscar Wilde’s play.

Opera Australia’s version is not wanting in this regard. Even the mute moments of movement and curiosity depicted by the slaves and guards around the cell and Salome are fleeting moments
brimming with expression.

The infamous dance of the seven veils demanded by Herod of his step-daughter Salome is given a modern boost thanks to the innovation of choreographer Kelley Abbey, continued lavish and tongue in cheek costuming from Julie Lynch and a big salute to recent pop culture and fetish icons. The dance styles include pole dancers and acrobatic aerialists thrill. A favourite twentieth century movie star celebrity and special interest sex outfits are also tangled up in the stage drama as  fitting caricatures for Herod’s dwelling.

The successful stage chemistry is gilded not just by suggestive outfits but a realisation of Richard Strauss’ challenging vocal score and pointed German translation of Wilde’s play. Conductor
Johannes Fritzsch leads the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra in a compelling and bold delivery of the musical emotions throughout, from the tiniest motif to broader utterances.

Lise Lindstrom’s command of the stage, the music and facets of her character saw her work as an unfailing triple threat opera superstar. The crowd supplied primal cheers and applause at the conclusion at a fitting level for Salome’s demonstrated bloodlust.

The hero’s applause Lindstrom’s powerfully diverse tone and characterisation received rivalled any Australian sporting hero’s sideline screaming of fans. And rightfully so, as her chillingly athletic performance is not to be missed.

In the role of Herodias Jacqueline Dark’s beautiful timbral depths combine with cheeky and confrontational movement around the set swathed in wonderful colour. Andreas Conrads gives a lively performance as the failed lecherous King Herod in degrees of emotional and physical deshabillé as he struggles with the prophet, his women and his higher compulsive power. All crowned with a somewhat whimsical gold headpiece.

When either de profundis off stage or chained before us, Alexander Krasnov as the prophet Jokanaan’s vocal strength above the rich orchestral layer haunts us. His ensemble interactions are full of otherwordly mysticism and he moves as one whose cause can’t be silenced even if he is decapitated at the angry whim of a teenager imprisoned in a strange adult world.

This is a darkly sensual and exciting piece of theatre from which you just can’t turn away. Its compact length, visual packaging and directness make it a perfect vehicle to celebrate or introduce opera for us in a modern audience as a completely relevant and powerful way to be entertained.

Salome plays at the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until March 26.

OPERA AUSTRALIA : WERTHER @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Above : members of the Opera Australia Children’s Chorus. Featured image : Stacey Alleaume as Sophie and Elena Maximova as Charlotte. Photo credit : Prudence Upton.

Opera Australia impresses with the sparkling sheen it gives to the substantial theatrical package of Jules Massenet’s Werther. From the outset, this is a visually fresh and stunning production with engaged performances which do not disappoint. Its well-paced descent from Werther’s infatuation to tragedy is tightly blocked across the stage.

At all times, the realistic acting with penetrating vocal performances from ensemble and solo cast is ably supported by a vibrant realisation of the continuous intricacies of Massenet’s score.
The source text for this libretto is Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, with its  anguished letters between perhaps a lonely engaged woman Charlotte and Werther.                          Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : WERTHER @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

CHAMBER POT OPERA RETURNS TO SYDNEY AT SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Following seasons in Adelaide, Edinburgh and St Petersburg, Russia, CHAMBER POT OPERA returns to Sydney to play in Australia’s foremost Opera venue, the Sydney Opera House for its final season, commencing 11 April 2019. Tickets go on sale on Friday 22 February.

CHAMBER POT OPERA tells the story of three women who meet for the first time in a public bathroom. One is in an abusive relationship, another is terrified that she has come on too strong on a date, and the third has been promoted through the glass ceiling to land her dream job. Together they sing of shared histories, traumas and fantasies using a catalogue of popular music from the operas of Puccini, Mozart and Bizet.

A uniquely intimate production, CHAMBER POT OPERA will be performed for only 42 audience members at a time in the elegant Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House. The three performers will utilise the entirety of the splendid and intimate space from the bathroom sinks and decorative mirrors to the hand dryers and toilet stalls to weave together a story in a setting where women can safely express themselves.

Originally performed in November 2016, this new season of CHAMBER POT OPERA Is due in no small part to the Sydney Opera House’s commitment to creating new operas for contemporary audiences as well as its commitment to fostering new, young, and exciting artistic talent.

CHAMBER POT OPERA features a talented team of singers and creatives from NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Created by director Clemence Williams (Banging Denmark), musical director Keiren Brandt-Sawdy (Mansfield Park) and dramaturg Thomas De Angelis (Unfinished Works) and with a cast including Sally Alrich-Smythe (The Phantom of the Opera), Britt Lewis (Rent) and Jessica Westcott (La Boheme), this production brings together Australia’s next generation of opera performers and creators.

Director and co-creator Clemence Williams says that this season “is the culmination of three years of touring the world and bringing our message of the timelessness and beauty of opera to the masses, one bathroom at a time!” The idea for the show came from Williams’ own experience being a performer confined to the ‘bitches, witches and breeches’ roles in opera.

Dramaturg and co-creator Thomas De Angelis says, “It seemed like the right time to bring Chamber Pot Opera home, and particularly to stage it in Australia’s most recognisable cultural institution, the Sydney Opera House. We’ve made some changes to the show and added some new material – and crucially, we’ve tried to keep the ticket prices as low as possible to maximise the accessibility of the show.”

CHAMBER POT OPERA is the only opera written and designed specifically for publicly accessible women’s bathrooms. It’s sure to delight opera novices and aficionados alike.

“Chamber Pot Opera makes opera accessible, celebrates the power women can have when they choose to support each other, and forces audiences to rethink their opinions of performance spaces.” – Broadway World

“Don’t be surprised to see these singers on great operatic stages in the future. In the meantime, go along and see this great little show — it’s a gem.” – Adelaide Advertiser

“For those who love Opera you must see this, for those who are novices, you also must see this.” – Stage Whispers

CHAMBER POT OPERA
Presented by Bontom Productions and Sydney Opera House
Created by Keiren Brandt-Sawdy, Thomas De Angelis and Clemence Williams
Directed by Clemence Williams
Musical Direction by Keiren Brandt-Sawdy
Dramaturgy by Thomas De Angelis
With Sally Alrich-Smythe, Britt Lewis and Jessica Westcott

DATES 
11 April – 28 April (7pm and 8:30pm) at the  Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House

For more about Chamber Pot Opera, visit https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/opera/2019/chamber-pot-opera.html
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MARIA BY CALLAS : DESTINED TO BE A DIVA

Was Maria Callas, one of the most famous dramatic coloratura sopranos of all time, a diva both on and off stage? Was she more famous for her voice or for her affair with the mega-rich Aristotle Onassis? Who is better to answer these and related questions than Maria Callas herself.

MARIA B Y CALLAS  is an intimate look at the life of the legendary Greek-American opera singer completely in her own words.

Whilst she died in 1977 aged 53, this documentary film reminds us that her voice was truly remarkable and that the media hounding ensured that the public thought of her as a diva. The documentary is a chronological collection of interviews, performances, home movies, photographs, letters and unpublished memoirs from Callas.

The movie reveals the tussle between Maria, the ‘normal’ female desiring a ‘normal’ family life with children, and ‘Callas’ the international opera star who must please and appease audiences and the press. She collected recipes but never got round to making the dishes. Whilst having been married once and having a long public affair with Aristotle Onassis, she admits that destiny called her to be a diva and therefore motherhood was denied. Continue reading MARIA BY CALLAS : DESTINED TO BE A DIVA

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘WOZZECK’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Samantha Hickey and Andrea Fabi as puppeteers in Opera Australia’s 2019 production of Wozzeck at the Sydney Opera House. 
Production photography by Keith Saunders

William Kentridge’s direction of Alban Berg’s opera WOZZECK which premiered in Salzburg last year was always going to be an anticipated highlight of this year’s Sydney Festival, where it is currently shown as a co-production of a number of opera companies including Opera Australia.

Whilst the work is referred to as an opera, it needs to be approached from a broader perspective, almost a culmination of the Gesamtkunstwerk, in which music forms merely a part of the whole, and not necessarily the most important part.

The atonal thrust of the music, its sound collages, use of Sprechgesang and inclusion of some folk and popular song interludes, even a few flourishes into tonality, function very much like an early version of sampling and soundtrack techniques. This supports the themes of alienation, insanity, and nature’s arbitrariness and inherent violence with Berg himself adapting the libretto from fragments of Buechner’s ‘Woyzeck’, and further inspired by his WW1 experience. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘WOZZECK’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘TURANDOT’ @ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Opera Australia’s ‘Turandot’. Production photography by Keith Sanders

This was a wonderful opening night of Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ performed by Opera Australia at Sydney’s Opera House on Tuesday 15th January 2019. TURANDOT is Puccini’s final opera and one of his most well-known thanks to the unforgettable performance of the aria ‘Nessun Dorma’ by tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Considered by many as Puccini’s most musically adventurous and best known Opera. Sadly Puccini (born 1858) died in 1924 before it was completed. TURANDOT premiered on the 25th April 1926 at La Scala in Milan with the final scenes written by composer Franco Alfano, a successful opera composer in his own right, based the final ending on Puccini’s drafts and sketches.

This year’s revival of Graeme Murphy’s 1990 production leans heavily into the fairy tale and Puccini’s view of early 20th century China which he developed from studying books about old Chinese music and information from his friend who had been the Italian Consul in China at the time. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘TURANDOT’ @ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

DIVAS ON DEMAND : BOHEME A PIACERE @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

 

Divas on Demand presented a most exciting production that reimagined the classic story of La Boheme. Under the deft direction of Nathan Gilkes, the Boheme Musetta and Rodolfo are blended with their future selves remembering the past and celebrating the life changing, at times, devastating power of love.

It becomes an immersive event with the audience is led through various spaces of the Independent Theatre – eg the main lobby , the foyer, outside, the cast using the fire escape staircase etc.

Musical director and arranger Wendy Dixon on electronic keyboard has created an excellent score mostly using the main ‘set pieces’ of the much loved opera as but also incorporating for instance The Andrews Sisters hits and also including guitar (Grant Sambells).Also, in another twist, Marcello here becomes Marcella. Continue reading DIVAS ON DEMAND : BOHEME A PIACERE @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

DON GIOVANNI IN THE AGE OF CELEBRITY @ THE CON

This is a very exciting production, directed by Matthew Barclay, fresh and vibrant, updated to now and musically and vocally fabulous.

Mozart’s opera DON GIOVANNI is one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the world. Here, it is a marvellous showcase for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s terrific vocal and orchestral students . It is slightly abridged to clarify the complicated plot, sung in the original Italian , with surtitles above the stage providing a snappy, witty translation. The pacing of the production was brisk and the narrative clear. Under the direction of maestro Dr Stephen Mould the orchestra was in impressive, glowing form.

This production is transposed to 2018 – the characters here become A list celebrities and there is much use of mobile phones, paparazzi and so on. There are witty visual jokes (for example, the photo shoot at interval, the huge bucket of KFC and the way the Conservatorium is shown in the set designs as Don Giovanni’s castle), and musical ones (the quote from Mozart’s own The Marriage of Figaro in Act 2 for instance).

Costumes by Isabella Andoronos are terrific, with some stunning dresses for Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in particular, while their assistants wear severely cut black and white suits ( and have fun picking out the Batman, Superman and Cleopatra costumes for example in the masked ball in Act 2 ). The staging is set as if it backstage at a film lot or theatre with revolving panels , various clothes racks etc .The statue of the Commendatore is one of several Oscar like statues on plinths.

We follow the last days of the life of a narcissistic, lecherous, hedonistic, filthy rich playboy, convinced he can live beyond the laws of God and man – and in doing so cheat punishment and death. Continue reading DON GIOVANNI IN THE AGE OF CELEBRITY @ THE CON