Tag Archives: Independent Theatre


This quartet comprises four professional musicians.  They are from some of Australia’s finest orchestras and ensembles .All of them are women ..Marianne Edwards, Kerry Martin, Elizabeth Woolnough and Rowena Macneish. Some of them started out as buskers but now  they play for the pure joy and love of being in a quartet . 

The programming and structure of the performance was quite unusual. Part of a coffee and romance series in which members of the small boutique audience ,drank their coffee as they listened to two string quartets by Bedrich Smetana. If there was romance it was in the second of the Smetana works, in which in one of the movements he writes about the love for his wife and their falling in love.  At the end the musicians ,most unusually, spoke of their musical lives and took questions from the audience. But we never did learn why they call themselves the Enigma Quartet. Continue reading THE ENIGMA QUARTET : A COFFEE CULTURE CONCERT @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE



Last weekend the Acacia Quartet returned to the Independent for another eclectic program of mostly modern music. They opened with the program’s namesake ‘Fratres’ or ‘Brothers’ written by one who is considered the most widely performed modern composer in the world, Estonian Arvo Pärt. Fratres was written a year before what is considered his most popular piece ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ in the 1970s after an inspiring study of medieval and Renaissance period music. Converting to Orthodox Christianity made things extremely hard for Pärt as it clashed with the values of his Soviet cultural censors causing them to ban Fratres and any work with a hint of religion included. Finally negotiating an exit to Berlin for himself and his family Pärt was free to spread his music throughout the world. 

The inspiration of the Gregorian chant is clear in Fratres with unusual pitch and chords used in the music. First violin, viola and cello play over a singular drone from the 2nd violin which gives the piece an earthy, solid foundation from which to naturally grow. Sections of the work are completed with a repeated staccato pattern from the cello, its predictability making the work extremely satisfying and assuring for the audience.  Continue reading THE ACACIA QUARTET : FRATRES @ THE INDEPENDENT



A most enchanting concert, strikingly combining Baroque and contemporary musical styles. Evergreen Ensemble’s SNOW IN SUMMER at the Independent was part of the theatre’s delicious Prelude in Tea series and launches their CD of the same title. Some of but not all the tracks of the CD were played in the concert.

Evergreen Ensemble combines three female musicians from Melbourne – Shane Lestideau (baroque violin), Samantha Cohen (theorbo and baroque guitar), Claire Patti (Celtic harp and voice) together with Sydney viola da gamba virtuoso Jenny Eriksson. There was wonderful, intense rapport between the ensemble who obviously greatly performing together.

The concert began with the pulsating Twist Ye, Twine Ye & Blooms Like Stars .Twist Ye, Twine Ye was learnt by Lestideau, from the great Australian fiddler, Chris Duncan. It forms the introduction to Blooms Like Stars which was composed over the famous La Folia ground bass.It is an aching lament , led by the violin , with ominous rumbles on the electric viola da gamba. Continue reading EVEREGREEN ENSEMBLE SNOW IN SUMMER INDEPENDENT THEATRE


From Gershwin to Charlie Chaplin, NICK RUSSONIELLO & THE GOLDEN AGE QUARTET will thrill listeners with their program of American classics.  The saxophone soars, sings and swings as award winning saxophonist Nick Russoniello performs with unrivalled virtuosity on an original 1920’s C-melody saxophone alongside period string quartet Golden Age Quartet.

This unique concert experience, part of the Independent Theatre’s Prelude in Tea series,  allows listeners to experience the music of the early twentieth century on original instruments and in a manner inspired by the highly expressive playing styles of Rudy Wiedoeft, Al Gallodoro, Fritz Kreisler, Albert Sammons and the London String Quartet.  The Prelude in Tea series also includes a delicious selection of cakes & refreshments. Continue reading NICK RUSSONIELLO AND THE GOLDEN AGE QUARTET – A GIVEAWAY TO THIS UNIQUE CONCERT EXPERIENCE


Seraphim Trio

NUMBER ONES : Featuring some exquisite, heavenly playing this was a magnificent concert by the Seraphim Trio of three piano trios, a delightful rather striking combination of ‘firsts’.

The renowned Seraphim Trio – Helen Ayres, Anna Goldsworthy and Tim Nankervis – have remained committed to chamber music over the past two decades of performing – from building the contemporary repertoire (as in Jankowksi’s work we hear this afternoon) to developing new audiences and teaching the next generation of performers. Seraphim frequently collaborates with Australia’s leading musicians and is frequently broadcast on ABC Classic FM and on the MBS network. Continue reading THE SERAPHIM TRIO – NUMBER ONES. PRELUDE IN TEA @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

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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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.




In Sydney playwright Katherine Thomson’s KAYAK, all Ruth wants to do is be out on the harbour with her kayak and enjoy the quiet. She’s in Heaven. “I’m nestled in the meniscus, as secure as a duck.”

Just as Ruth gets lost in the serenity, her floating universe is destroyed by a perilous encounter with teenage hoons in a tinnie. Ruth seeks revenge and tracks down Luke Continue reading CROSS POLLINATE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS KAYAK @ THE OLD FITZ


Talented young Opera singer Catherine Bouchier will be performing at the Valentine's night concert.
Talented young Opera singer Catherine Bouchier will be performing at the Valentine’s night concert.

Pacific Opera, a young artists company proving a platform for the opera stars of tomorrow, is presenting a Valentine’s Day Opera Concert at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

On the most romantic of days opera lovers will have the opportunity to swoon in the embrace of Eva Kong, Catherine Butcher, Michael Butchard and many of the Company’s other talented alumni as they perform a romantic program conceived by Simon Kenway, the renowned orchestral and operatic conductor and the Artistic Director of the Company.

Tickets are just $30 for adults, $25 concession and $20 students.

Performance starts at 4.30pm on Sunday 14th February.

Book your tickets at http://www.independent.org.au

Pacific Opera is the Young Artists’ opera company, producing fresh, vibrant opera with a twist, delighting audiences and providing a platform for the stars of tomorrow.

Pacific Opera is a not-for-profit opera company which offers an integrated program of professional development and performance opportunities to young, emerging opera singers under the supervision of industry experts.  We are a national, “one of a kind” company with a unique focus on growing the number and quality of new and innovative performances available to young opera singers

The Marais Project launches their new CD Smörgåsbord! at the Independent Theatre

Marais Project-insetFounded in 2000, The Marais Project recently turned 15, and each year presents Early Music with a number of highly regarded concerts making it Australia’s longest continuously running “viola da gamba” ensemble.

The Marais Project have performed more than 80% of Marin Marais’ works for solo, two and three viola da gambas and other fine works for the viola family. Additionally they have commissioned some twenty works by Australian composers and arranged new music for the ensemble. As well they have pioneered the use of the electric viola da gamba.      Continue reading The Marais Project launches their new CD Smörgåsbord! at the Independent Theatre


Daniel Sloman as Canio and Simon Meadows as Tonio in PAGLIACI. Pic Roland Slee
Daniel Sloman as Canio and Simon Meadows as Tonio in PAGLIACI. Pic Roland Slee

Modern news reports often feature tragic and grisly tales of murdered lovers and what happens when love triangles break. Ruggero Leoncavallo had all this reported in his nineteenth century opera PAGLIACCI. This realist opera completed the Sydney Independent Opera’s 2014 season. Its fresh direction and performance was the crowning glory to this year’s exploration of verismo operatic style.

The operatic work did not suffer when presented in a chamber opera setting with reduced orchestral forces. Dr Steven Stanke’s arrangements ably supported the well-cast principal voices on stage. Expressive moments existed, especially in solos for oboe and cello. Continue reading Pagliacci


Bernice Zandona as Catherine, Damian Arnold as Hugo, and Laura King as Rosette

The talents of the Sydney Independent Opera begin 2014 by luring us into the world of opera buffa, in particular an engaging excursion into fine voiced French humour. This is in great contrast to the dramatic and full-scale operatic works the company has offered in the recent past. However their trademarks of fine orchestration, neat playing and enthusiastic singing from rising local stars are once again present.

Even though laws now don’t restrict opera companies in Sydney other than the government supported group to perform one act trifles, a little mid-19th century French satire and farce in contrast to other arts events and world news in general is a welcome diversion.



Sarah Grace conducting the TMO
Sarah Grace conducting the TMO

The Series Three concert was consistent with the TMO’s 2013 programming formula. Orchestral works and collaboration with a soloist were followed by a loved orchestral classic as a finale.

This concert’s gift to the assembled was once again its work with the guest soloist,- the diverse sensitivity and fine control from alto saxophone virtuoso Nicholas Russoniello in Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra by Alexander Glazunov.

Russoniello is a master of his instrument and a musical communicator of exceptional standard. His fine phrasing was always well supported by the TMO.

The climax to the concert, Mozart’s Symphony No 41, ‘Jupiter’, was robustly performed. A highlight on a smaller scale were the two string orchestra works. They contained the most successful and seamlessly evocative playing of the night.

In both the Mendelssohn Capriccio and Fugue Op 81 and Mahler’s  ‘Adagietto’ from Symphony No. 5  the progression of Romantic sentiment was well illustrated in the blend of the TMO strings.

Disciplined fugal playing had great direction in the Mendelssohn excerpt. The addition of Helen Boyd’s harp to the concert and string texture helped make the sheer beauty and communication of the Mahler one of the finest moments of a fine night.

The Metropolitan Orchestra Met Series Three was performed at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney on Saturday August 31.

The fourth and final concert of the 2013 Met Season on November 2 is not to be missed. It celebrates the fifth anniversary of this orchestra with the fifth symphonies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and will be performed at the Eugene Goosens Centre.