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→
THE TURK IN ITALY is not one of Rossini’s best known or best received operas, but this risqué OA production is sure to entertain most. (Just don’t take your kids or your prudish mother-in-law.)
Director Simon Philips premiered this playful retro adaptation in 2014 and returns this year with the same cartoonish set design and candied costumes, as well as much of the original cast.
The plot is by no means serious drama and does not stand up to critical examination. But it is laugh-out-loud funny. This is opera buffa, after all. It is meant to be ridiculous, and is by its’ very nature full of gender and race stereotypes, with not one fully formed, complex character. Continue reading THE TURK IN ITALY – MODERN AUSSIE OPERA→
Opera Australia’s current new production of Verdi’s Aida delivers a satisfying amount of traditional drama and tension we hope for in Verdi’s structure and score. The arresting design in this production makes use of a refreshingly new visual element for the opera stage. A more traditional set design is replaced with projection technology onto moveable vertical panels to create and decorate all required scenes.
Musically, Verdi’s score is preserved with immense energy and beautifullyvaried nuance by conductor Andrea Battistoni. In front of the vibrant animation of the video backdrop, arias such as ‘Celeste Aida’ from Riccardo Massi as Radamès indicate early that the calibreof operatic storytelling will be high and as vivid as the set projections from video designer D-Wok in Giò Forma’s fluid set design.
Dramatic focus and stirring atmospheres are constantly supplied from principals and chorus. They deliver intense exchanges in scenes dealing with crises of the heart, countries at war, jealous lovers or jubilant victory. Some very full stage moments are augmented further by extra animated screen figures behind and at the side borders of tableaux. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : AIDA @ DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE→
From the opening dramatic chords we know we are in for an emotional roller-coaster ride in this gripping revival of the Elijah Moshinksy production of RIGOLETTO for Opera Australia , first seen in 1991 .
Updated a bit, it is set in Italy in the 1950’s or thereabouts so think Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ … the land of omerta, hidden secrets, revenge, curses, disguised identities and powerful ( if very restricting ) familial love.
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→
Grammy-award winning coloratura soprano Sumi Jo is returning to Australia for a series of performances across the country, including a recital at Sydney’s City Recital Hall on July 19.
Sumi Jo is amongst the highest-selling classical artists in the world, with over 50 recordings to date and recent performances for the Pope and at the Winter and Summer Olympics.
Opera lovers will be in for a treat with the concert set to feature an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary pieces, tango and a hauntingly beautiful folk song from Sumi’s Korean heritage. Sumi will be joined on stage by Argentine-born baritone José Carbó (Opera Australia), and will be accompanied by popular pianist and conductor Guy Noble.
I had a chance to ask Sumi a few questions before she embarks on her Australian tour :
Q. Sumi, you are renowned for your interpretations of the bel canto repertoire. This repertoire relates to an Italian way of singing. A South Korean soprano goes on to mastering an Italian way of singing?! How do you feel about this journey?
A. I like the idea that I learned something from where it has been born. In operatic singing, you have to experience Italy to learn how to sing the Bel Canto way. When I started to sing in Korea, I had a feeling that something was not quite right, even though I was able to sing an entire opera within a few months. What I missed were those elements that were born with the opera, the language, culture and tha way that Italian people live and love. Bel Canto contains not only the technique of vocalising but also all those elements that define the pattern of life that Italian people have. Even though I have sung over 30 years of Italian and other Opera Arias, I’m always learning more. It is an endless learning curve. Continue reading ‘A VOICE FROM ABOVE’ : SUMI JO TO PERFORM AT CITY RECITAL HALL→
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.
After days of torrential rain the clouds parted last night to make way for a love story on, and to, Sydney Harbour. Cool for the audience and lots of ‘cool daddy cool’ on the stage, we were treated to a new Opera Australia production of Giacomo Puccini‘s LA BOHEME. Set in France during the student riots of 1968, the stormy relationships of the two pairs of lovers are backgrounded by grassroots rebellion and oppressive crackdowns, all in a freezing winter of global unrest. With fire and snow, Handa Opera on the Harbour passionately immerses us in this evocatively created Paris of Discontent. Continue reading Fire and Snow at ‘La Boheme’: Handa Opera on the Harbour→
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→