Opera

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ONLINE STREAMING PROGRAM : OA | TV: OPERA AUSTRALIA ON DEMAND

Dame Joan Sutherland in ‘,eet Widow’. Pic William Moseley.

Unable to perform live while the country is in COVID-19 lock-down, Opera Australia has created another way to share their performances with opera fans, today launching OA | TV: Opera Australia on Demand,on Demand,a free online streaming service. 

OA | TV will feature exclusive content from its back catalogue that includes the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dame Joan Sutherland performances on video and Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, plus a series of chat show style interviews called In Conversation with Lyndon Terracini and unique ‘behind the scenes’ footage.  Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ONLINE STREAMING PROGRAM : OA | TV: OPERA AUSTRALIA ON DEMAND

OPERA AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES EMPLOYEES SUPPORT PROGRAM

Opera Australia (OA) today announced details of an employee support package designed to retain their workforce in the face of widespread layoffs across the arts and entertainment sectors following the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus.

Like so many Australian companies, OA is faced with a complete absence of ticketing revenue following the government’s closure of all performances in the coming months, in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. OA recognises that the health and well-being of its staff is essential in securing the Company’s future. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES EMPLOYEES SUPPORT PROGRAM

ATTILA @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

The opening to another darkly dramatic production for Opera Australia, we seem to have had a fair few of them in recent times. It’s the first time the company has produced Verdi’s Attila (the Hun) which was brought in from Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Lesser known that many of Verdi’s other masterpieces, Attila is filled with memorable arias and chorus numbers, the overture and opening scene probably best known and most recognised.

Some background into the story… The Huns are still a mystery to historians. They were nomadic people, most likely from somewhere between the eastern edge of the Altai Mountains and Caspian Sea, roughly where you’ll now find modern Kazakhstan. Many artistic impressions of them are as Asians, others show red headed fair skinned Aryan people similar to the oldest records of Genghis Khan. In the 5th Century they were described as barbaric and uncivilised yet, compared to the corrupt Roman Empire, they appear to be extremely loyal to their family members, well organised and lethal in accelerating the fall of the Roman Empire. Continue reading ATTILA @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

MOTHER’S DAY OPERA HIGH TEA

Celebrate with Mum in style! Discover a stunning hidden-Sydney venue and indulge in some of the opera world’s most beautiful music.

Opera Bites has once again partnered with The Castlereagh Boutique Hotel to bring you a sublime afternoon of the world’s best loved opera complete with a decadent sparkling high tea. As you step through the doors of this breath-taking heritage listed ballroom you’ll find yourself immersed in the world of operatic splendour.

Tickets include entertainment, sumptuous high tea and a glass of sparkling. Continue reading MOTHER’S DAY OPERA HIGH TEA

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘FAUST’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Opera Australia brings out David McVicar’s production of Faust for the third season – second time in Sydney. Revived by Shane Placentino the audience has so much to see within the production. There are bound to be new details and interpretations to spot if you saw it the first time around. With deep pitched sets there is plenty of room for multiple layers of action. The lighting design by Paule Constable keeps a constant darkened theme where any number of ghouls and satanist ballet dancers may be hiding. Superb costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel add some colour and stark contrast in many places. 

Illusions abound when you think you know what you see and suddenly find it’s not at all what was expected includes us in the deceit Faust himself is experiencing. 

In the title role from Italy is Ivan Magrì who has spent the majority of his career in Europe and South America. A beautiful tone and great strength, Magrì was held back a little due to illness on opening night and tentative in pitching his high notes. Give him a few days and he’s bound to be back to true form. It didn’t stop the audience from showing him their appreciation. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘FAUST’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

A CHANCE TO GO BEHIND THE SCENES AT OPERA AUSTRALIA

Opera Australia has announced it will hold a free Behind the Scenes at the Opera event on Sunday 23 February at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, giving the public an insight into how a fully staged opera is brought to life.

The showcase will reveal how an opera is produced from a behind-the-scenes perspective and will feature a full program of interactive foyer displays and on-stage demonstrations from a variety of departments including wigs, wardrobe, props, and makeup, giving the public unique insight into the busy life of one of the world’s leading opera companies.

Ask burning questions at one of the Q&A sessions with an opera singer, musician, conductor or director taking place every hour in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. Learn to sing an opera chorus, or try on an authentic costume from one of OA’s past productions.

This is a rare opportunity for guests to watch OA’s talented artisan wigmakers hand-knot wigs strand by strand, listen to Carmen stage calls from one of their Stage Managers, and take a look at the history of OA with some unique never-before-seen items on display.

Behind the Scenes at the Opera is open to everyone and is suitable for opera lovers and those new to the art form. Families are welcome.

In the theatre 

  • Hear the stage manager’s instructions and watch how it plays out on stage
  • Q&As with an opera singer, a musician, a conductor and a director
  • Learn to sing an opera chorus

In the foyers

  • Try on an original opera costume
  • Watch one of our professional wig-knotters create a hand-made wig
  • Watch elaborate stage make-up applied step-by-step by OA make-up artist
  • View costumes, wigs, set models, props and musical scores up close
  • See the performance and rehearsal schedule of a week in the life of Opera Australia
  • Take selfies with an actor in full opera costume

Sunday 23 February 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Bookings essential via the Opera Australia website

Tickets are free of charge

Featured image : A scene from Opera Australia’s production of Don Giovanni. Pic Keith Saunders.

 

 

 

OPERA AUSTRALIA’S : DON GIOVANNI @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

This is a magnificent revival of the chilling , thrilling David McVicar production.

As the audience enters, the curtain hangs almost as if partly torn down. Eventually it rises to reveal Robert Jones’s huge ash grey set that makes the stage look much larger than it is. It is supposedly a disintegrating palazzo, looking bombed out and with rubble everywhere with marvellous use of perspective. The set is also dominated by a giant staircase that rises and or descends dramatically allowing for further locale changes.

David Finn’s lighting is also integral to the show .

The atmosphere is bleak and gloomy and the production has been shifted time wise to the Romantic/Gothic era , just before the hypocrisy and rigid values of the Victorian era.

Musically the Orchestra led by maestro Xu Zhong was in glorious form and we heard a vocal feast as well.

In Mozart and Da Ponte’s opera about the Don Juan legend we see the anti hero, cad, hedonist more than serial seducer unpunished in this life until he finally meets his chilling just desserts .It is about morals and revenge and also forgiveness.

Luca Micheletti lives and breathes the eponymous mad, bad and dangerous to know role of Don Giovanni in a riveting, stellar performance .He is full of narcissistic machismo and can’t understand a woman saying ‘ no’ . He just takes what he sees and wants, and he is always the one to put things in motion. His delicate seductive aria in Act 2 to Donna Elvira’s maid Deh, vieni alla finestra , had the audience swooning.

Tall, gangly Shane Lowrencev was dynamic and energetic as blundering, bespectacled Leporello, the Don’s servant ,who sort of acts as Everyman, appalled by the Don’s amoral blasphemous and dangerous actions. While he is a ‘good’ guy ( well , mostly) but in some ways he wants to be bad just like the Don. His Catalogue Aria was a joy.

Donna Anna , the Commendatore’s assaulted daughter, portrayed by Eleanor Lyons, was accomplished in tone , singing at times with fierce intensity and at others great delicacy.. ‘Or sai, chi l’onore’,  her revenge aria, was refined and passionate .

As Donna Elvira,  Jane Ede gave a finely nuanced performance that was meticulous, from when we first see her in disguise as a man to her last attempts to return to and try and save Don Giovanni. Her ‘Mi tradi quell’alma ingrate’ in Act 2 was poignant and luminous.

Juan de Dios Mateos as Don Ottavio was in splendid voice portraying his character as finicky , pompous , narrow minded and rather innocuous .He shone particularly in two arias ‘Dalla sua pace la mia depende’ in Act1 and ‘Il Mio Tesoro’ in Act 2.

Anna Dowsley as Zerlina, tall, blonde, beautiful,  fresh and innocent,  an enchanting mischievous bride on her wedding day was in imposing form. Her ‘Batti Batti ‘attempting to reconcile with Masetto was lilting and luscious.

Richard Anderson as Masetto , Zerlina’s brand new husband rather bullies and tries to control his wife – we mostly see his temper rather than his kindness , and how he has to ‘know his place’ when confronted by his betters.

The Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father, was given a thrilling chilling performance by Gennadi Dubinksy with hugely commanding stage presence as his statue come to life towards the end. The penultimate scene when he invites the Don to supper and drags him down to Hell , with the ash grey ghostly dancing ghouls,  is petrifying .

A captivating production.

Running time roughly 3 & ½ hours including an interval.

Opera Australia’s DON GIOVANNI is playing the Sydney Opera House until the 27th February, 2020.

 

 

 

OPERA AUSTRALIA’S ‘LA BOHEME’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

LA BOHEME is back! In a revival of one of Opera Australia’s most popular productions, with some of its’ biggest stars returning to their acclaimed roles, it is sure to be a hit once again.

The story of LA BOHEME has inspired several famous stage and film adaptations, including Rent and Moulin Rouge. It is a classic tale of youth and romantic idealism, of love and mateship. The invincibility and infinite possibility of that all too short period in between gaining independence for the first time and the harsh reality of responsibility hitting is universally relatable, making La Bohème transcend era and generation to be ever relevant.

Four friends — a poet, a painter, a philosopher and a musician — with heads full of dreams and pockets full of nothing, live together in a near unfurnished inner city apartment. Cold and hungry, they value art over work, their romantic concept of a passionate love over the complexities of a real relationship, and their freedom more than anything. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA’S ‘LA BOHEME’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘CARMEN’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

On Saturday 11th January 2020 Opera Australia launched their new season of CARMEN one of the best known operas in the western world.  Bizet’s CARMEN was adapted from a book of the same name written 30 years before by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée. 

Merimee had adapted a story told to him by a Countess friend and based the book around Don José who is different from the opera in that he has already committed multiple murders. Not an innocent by any means but a short tempered and violent man. Carmen in the book is also far more loose offering sexual favours to get herself and her friends out of all sorts of trouble and marrying Don José after he kills her husband.

Obviously, in opera these ideas were not going to draw a lot of sympathy from the crowd when she dies so Bizet had to tone down both characters and simplify the story to convince the big theatre l’Opéra Comique in Paris to stage the première. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘CARMEN’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

PACIFIC OPERA FAREWELLS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR SIMON KENWAY

Pacific Opera’s Artistic Director Simon Kenway will complete his current contract with the company and from 2020 will concentrate on his conducting, performing and educational career.

Simon, who has been associated with the company for many years and served as Artistic Director since 2015 significantly raised the profile of Pacific Opera within the community. Simon developed the current educational and mentoring program in conjunction with the company and contributed to the artistic development of many young singers, directors and repetiteurs.

Pacific Opera is grateful to Simon for his depth of knowledge, experience, commitment and enthusiasm. We thank him for his unforgettable performances. Pacific Opera appreciates the contribution and impact he has made. We shall miss Simon’s generosity of spirit. 

 

 

PINCHGUT OPERA : VIVALDI’S FARNACE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

This is a Baroque opera set in ancient Roman times , yet has been updated to now in a chilling , menacing production at times countered by lyrical , exquisite music.The atmosphere of the set is dark and bleak ( almost like a construction site, or bombed out war zone, with large plastic panels , ladders and scaffolding ) and there is a menacing atmosphere of war and violence throughout .Body bags wrapped in plastic hang ominously and are at various times hauled up and down. There are chalk outlines of people on the back wall which are possibly graffiti , or perhaps hinting at ghosts of the fallen. Costumes are also contemporary including camouflage gear, balaclavas and guns. The overall effect is darkly monochromatic but there are dramatic uses of red.

At the time of writing Vivaldi was at the peak of his career and FARNACE was regarded as one of his great triumphs. Continue reading PINCHGUT OPERA : VIVALDI’S FARNACE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

ETTORE BASTIANINI : THE SINGER WHO WOULDN’T STOP SINGING

Australian baritone, José Carbó and his partner, soprano Jenna Robertson think he’s the bees-knees!  And so do I. But more from them a bit later. 

Just before and just after the Second World War was a golden era for opera singers.  In the baritone register there were Tito Gobbi, Gino Becchi, Robert Merrill and the subject for today’s article, Ettore (the accent is forcefully on the first syllable) Bastianini;  in the tenor ranks we had Benjamino Gigli, Jussi Bjorling , Giuseppe di Stefano, Franco Corelli and Mario del Monaco and in the soprano ranks we had Maria Callas, Zinka Milanov, Renata Tebaldi, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilssen and Kirsten Flagstaff.  Of course, there were others, but these were the most famous of the voices.  Continue reading ETTORE BASTIANINI : THE SINGER WHO WOULDN’T STOP SINGING

DIDO AND ANEAS BY THE OTHER THEATRE COMPANY

A thrilling, passionate production by The Other Theatre Company that was exquisite musically and vocally , featuring a splendid cast with a fine performance by all the ensemble and some stunning costumes.

Ably , thoughtfully directed by Euegene Lynch this production of Purcell’s 17th century opera has been updated to now and packs a great emotional punch . It is a somewhat simple staging but extremely effective .The set features a back drop of glittering long swishy black shimmering curtains , which the Orchestra led by Su Choung is hidden behind and as we enter the eye is drawn to the long table at which Dido’s court is having a feast with champagne and nibbles. It should be mentioned that at one point there is strobe lighting used. Continue reading DIDO AND ANEAS BY THE OTHER THEATRE COMPANY

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘IL VIAGGIO A REIMS’

The composer Rossini is so frequently linked to Italian opera that it is often forgotten he spent several years in Paris writing operas with French libretti. It was a strange time politically. The French Revolution had come and gone and now, France had a king again, Louis XVIII. Rossini had been offered a lucrative contract with the French Government in 1824 but, soon after his arrival in Paris, Louis passed away. This suddenly made the first project for Rossini to be a work celebrating the coronation of Louis’ successor Charles X. It was the perfect occasion to show off Rossini’s extraordinary talents but to also showcase a large cast of the best singers in the industry. Il Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims) was a comic drama – his last opera in Italian – about a group of socialites heading to the very same coronation, getting waylaid on route and deciding to give up on the coronation. Instead they would head to Paris where the bigger parties would be happening soon thereafter.

For fun, the artists were cast in roles from different countries where they could make a farce of cultural stereotypes. At the same time they could poke fun at the lack of action from a bored nobility and bourgeoisie stuck mid way between cities in a hotel who couldn’t be bothered with formal ceremonies such as a coronation. 14 soloists were required to sing the virtuoso parts and Rossini meant for the work to only be performed 4 times, before dismantling the score and using it’s material for future projects. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘IL VIAGGIO A REIMS’

LA FINTA GIARDINIERA @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Jealousy, yearning, cunning plans and gumboots are in store in the latest workshop opera from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. 

Combining singers, musicians and staff, the Conservatorium put together a clean, fun piece of theatre ideal for showcasing the stJars of tomorrow. This time they chose La Finta Giardiniera or ‘The disguised gardener’. This was a very early opera written by Mozart when he was 18 years old  as a commission for the Munich Carnival 1775. Originally with an Italian libretto, Mozart changed it a few years later to German. The original Italian version was re-discovered 200 years later in the 1970’s. An abridged version of the Italian original has been used this production. Continue reading LA FINTA GIARDINIERA @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

OPERA LEGENDS : LUCIANO PAVAROTTI

According to his former manager, Herbert Breslin, Pavarotti loved ‘music, women, food and football.’  At 150 kgs he devoured heaps of pasta, heavily sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and loads of salami. His conception of dieting consisted of a whole chicken, beans and more beans, mashed potatoes topped off with three scoops of ice cream.  When on a long tour he would ask any friend travelling from Italy to smuggle kilos of tortellini, Parmesan cheese and oodles of salami. I say ‘smuggled’ because I doubt if any customs institution would allow entrance into their country with meat in their luggage.  Even on his death-bed, his ex-wife Adua, whom he had divorced for a woman 34 years his junior, visited him and he persuaded her to cook him some spaghetti bolognese.

Pavarotti’s nickname was ‘Big Lucy’ for obvious reasons.  He was also called ‘Luciano Havelotti’ because of his size.  He was also known as the ‘King of the High Cs’, an appendage he earned after two 1972 performances singing Tonio in Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment at London’s Covent Garden and New York’s Metropolitan. In one of the arias he sang nine high Cs in a row.  At the Metropolitan he was called back for seventeen curtain calls….a record number, according to some. It was then that Pavarotti came of age as an operatic tenor. Continue reading OPERA LEGENDS : LUCIANO PAVAROTTI

OPERA AUSTRALIA : THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

After several Opera Australia productions where the technology has dominated the artists, it was a great relief to see Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with all technology hidden. The visuals in this production will take your breath away from the period costumes to elegant scenery and exquisite lighting. It’s the ultimate high class production design and perfect backdrop to some of the most loved music in the classical repertoire.

Jenny Tiramani’s costumes and sets showcase her marvellous knowledge after years of working with London’s Globe Theatre. The fabrics looked authentic with subtle colour mixes which are just stunning. The Marriage of Figaro storyline features a stark contrast between nobility and the servants of the house. Tiramani clothed the servants in variations of warm blues, white and cream while the nobility wore black, red and rich gold satins with lace and split sleeves. It was unusual to see the cast in 17th Century clothes (think 3 Musketeers) rather than the 18th Century clothes of the time of Mozart but worked perfectly. Makeup was kept very basic with natural colours for all the cast and the opening scene featuring lighting strongly directed from low to the ground as if the sun was just rising on an extraordinary day. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

HERE’S A HOW-DE-DO: A GILBERT AND SULLIVAN EXTRAVAGANZA

Readers, you are invited to come to the Reagh Bar of the historic Castlereagh Boutique Hotel for a delightful romp through your favourite Gilbert & Sullivan hits.

Magic is in the air on Thursday nights at The Castlereagh Boutique Hotel. Three giants of Australia’s Gilbert & Sullivan past are holding court at the Reagh Bar. Hold on tight as they will take you on the ride of your life through your favourite Gilbert & Sullivan numbers, sweeping you, the audience, along with them.

The show will include a hilarious, action-packed romp through the Pirate King, Three Little Maids, When I Was A Lad, Poor Wand’ring One and many more. Audience participation compulsory! Brought to you by Opera Bites.

Tickets are $65 (+ booking fee) and include a fully costumed show and a cocktail on entry. Snacks, dinner and additional drinks are available to order throughout the evening.

Doors open 6.00 pm for pre-show dining. Show commences 7.00 pm. You’re welcome to stay for a post-show drink and chat with the cast.

Early booking highly recommended as numbers are strictly limited.

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA SYDNEY : THE MIKADO

Once upon a time …

This production of THE MIKADO by the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Sydney , smoothly and niftily directed by Dean Sinclair, is in some ways presented as a Victorian pantomime as it opens and closes with a little girl falling asleep in her maid’s arms in the nursery and dreaming of the events in Titipu , the characters being figurines on the mantlepiece that come alive.

The complicated , twisted plot involves two young lovers, faked death, disguise and arranged marriages plus lots of social and political comment , greed , power and corruption , blending a dash of Aussie irreverence, Gilbertian British humour ,theatrical in-jokes and Sullivan’s glorious music. All gently poking fun at Mother England supposedly in an ‘exotic’ environment and celebrating the craze for the orient at the time it was written.

Close attention to both text and music was respectfully paid. Gilbert’s libretto has been wittily updated by Melvyn Morrow, particularly in Koko’s As some day it may happen – yes he’s got a little list – and the Mikado’s A more humane Mikado. Continue reading GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA SYDNEY : THE MIKADO

24 HOUR FLASH SALE : OPERA FOR EVERYONE

Experience some of the world’s most popular operas in Sydney for just $45 with Opera Australia’s 24 hour flash sale from 10am today, Thursday 3 October.

TodayTix, the digital gateway to arts and cultural experiences, is offering readers exclusive access to significantly discounted tickets to encourage all Australians to go to the opera.

Once a past time reserved for the wealthy, TodayTix is democratising theatre and proving a special flash sale of opera tickets for 24 hours only.

Sydney shows available in the 24hr Flash Sale include:

The Marriage of Figaro at Sydney Opera House

Dates: 18 October – 2 November 2019

La Bohème at Sydney Opera House

Dates: 2 – 30 January 2020

To book for the discount you have to go online to the  TodayTix website or download the TodayTix app before 10am Friday 4th October, 2019.

GHOST SONATA : AUGUST STRINDBERG @ HIS DARKEST

Audiences are in for a unique experience in Opera Australia’s production of GHOST SONATA. Dressed warm and casual, head for the Opera Centre in Elizabeth Street and then down the side alley to the company’s Scenery Workshop. Inside the performance space is the most extraordinary set. A heavily raked stage with a large glass panel of similar size suspended at a perpendicular angle. Designer Emma Kingsbury and Lighting designer John Rayment have been given great freedom to build a set inspired by the original production where illusions fade in and out, trapdoors open in the floor which are seen as windows of a house with people looking out when viewed in the looking glass. There’s a sunny garden under the table and funeral shroud in the corner for anyone who fancies knocking themselves off.

Director Greg Eldridge made a brilliant job of using the set for maximum effect, a particularly challenging job with the audience sitting so close. Performers were in period costume and, all but two, with ghostly white faces.

The story of GHOST SONATA  is based on a play by Swedish playwright August Strindberg who was nationally renowned for his highly controversial and intelligent works. He was a prolific writer through the late 1800s and Ghost Sonata was inspired by Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no 17, later known as ‘The Tempest’. Strindberg was often writing based on his real life experiences. Ghost Sonata was based around the “hell” that can be achieved within the family home through abuse, neglect and lack of communication. Continue reading GHOST SONATA : AUGUST STRINDBERG @ HIS DARKEST

HOW YOU’LL GET TO LOVE OPERA

So you wouldn’t be seen dead attending an opera?  Well, that’s understandable. The opera stage, on an average, is littered with dead bodies – so one more or less wouldn’t make a difference.  Corpses are part of the fatal charm of what some wish was a dying art form. But far from dying, opera is vibrantly alive and kicking. There was a time when it was in a state of dormancy but what with the Opera on the Harbour and the Domain, the Verdi and Wagner bi-centenary celebrations in 2013 (the latter albeit exclusive to Melbourne – drat!) there has been renewed interest in an ‘industry’ that connects all the dots visually, dramatically and aurally. 

 But if you are still unconvinced and secretly harbour misconceptions that opera is a breeding ground for behemoths brandishing fearsome assegais, wearing horned helmets and trilling away till all the chandeliers in the auditorium start playing a tune of their own, then allow me the opportunity to change your mind.  Don’t be distracted by the illusion perpetuated by that late great Dane, Victor Borge, when he insinuated that no opera was over till ‘the fat lady sings’.   Continue reading HOW YOU’LL GET TO LOVE OPERA