Tag Archives: Luke Spicer


Directed by Peter Coleman-Wright AO, conducted by Luke Spicer and showcasing the magnificent talents of Pacific Opera and Willoughby Symphony ,this is a bright, bold and colourful abridged version of Mozart’s opera. Performed and filmed at the Concourse, Chatswood, it was streamed online by the Australian Digital Concert Hall.

The MAGIC FLUTE was sung in German with English and traditional Chinese scene descriptions. Produced in association with the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture at the Western Sydney University, the opera, staged with an Asian aesthetic,was part of Chatswood Culture Bites 2022 and Willoughby Council’s Year of the Tiger festival.

The opera recounts the adventures of Prince Tamino, an Asian price, and the bird-catcher Papageno on their quest to rescue Princess Pamina. Lost in a foreign land, Tamino is pursued by an enormous dragon, among the many trials and tribulations they must conquer. To assist their mission, they are given musical instruments with magical powers, which they use on their journey towards a deeper understanding of true love and happiness .The opera is multi layered but at times sprightly , a quest of self discovery ,worldly mysterious , metaphysical yet dynamic .Mozart’s score ranges from folk melodies , noble classical arias for Tamino and the Baroque fierceness of the Queen of the Night’s showcase aria There are also the Masonic elements alluded to that got Mozart into such trouble at the time. Some arias are absent as are the animals and chorus.

Staging and choreography are kept simple but are very effective, with great lighting effects and an uncomplicated set, often green, with small square ottomans for characters to sit on if necessary.

The plot is condensed into its crucial points.The gaps are filled in with the synopsis on the back screen , the excellent costuming and make-up (bright colours and face makeup for the good characters; dark colours for the evil ones) and the clear, dramatic lighting .
Luke Spicer enthusiastically,scrupulously conducted the somewhat reduced orchestra (yet every section was included). Musically it was splendid, the orchestra adroitly supporting the singers.

Our hero Prince Tamino (Daniel Verschuer) was all in white and has a charismatic presence and gave a warmly lyrical performance. Princess Pamina was given a fine performance by Mikayla Tate.

Nick Geddes as Papageno was tremendous, boisterous and jocular in his tattered , patched bright and colourful outfit . (Not forgetting his Pan pipes and xylophone).

Rachel Mink as Papagena was fresh and delightful and was in fine form with her sonorous voice. Her duet with Geddes was charming.

Ayako Ohtake as Queen of the Night was extremely striking and impressive with her showcase aria where she shoots furious icy sparks. She was majestically, imposingly clad in a black gown with a dragon motif and a crown.

Kirralee Hillier, Elizabeth Cooper and Rebecca O’Hanlon as the three attendants of the Queen of the Night are striking in red and are engaging in their ensemble , while the three sprites in white,Melanie Jha, Megan Kim and Olivia Morberger are consistent in their deft trios.
A terrific production, a great way to introduce audiences to opera.

The Pacific Opera/Willoughby Symphony performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was performed live at the Concourse, Chatswood 19 February 2022 and was streamed by the Australian Digital Concert Hall 31 March 2022
running time 90 minutes no interval


For those of us lucky enough to attend, this was an absolutely glorious concert as part of the Willoughby Symphony Chamber series at the Zenith Theatre as directed by Daniel Dean .

First was a shimmering, exquisite rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for Harp Septet . (1907) After a delicate start by flute and clarinet, it was lush and limpid then darting , bubbling and scurrying. Soloist Will Nichols on the harp was superb passionate , authoritative yet fragile and delicate in his instrumental solos and the featured cadenza ,all leading to a scampering conclusion.

The we heard Carl Vine’s Inner World : Cello and Tape , with Liam Meany on solo cello. Vine apparently hand edited the sound score of the tape, which at times includes cascading piano, at one point has an insistent almost Flamenco like rhythm and at another time is very poignant. For one section towards the end it is as if the music is sort of revolving in circles .Meany’s live , passionate playing in an extraordinary bravura performance is at times dominant , sometimes fast and furious,  at others delicate or sometimes sharp and spiky . As Vine has written : ‘The performer is not only live, but also crystallised, dissected and re-arranged’ in a striking performance’. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY CHAMBER SERIES : SHATTERED RESTRAINTS


Featured image: Madeleine Retter – Artistic Director of the Chamber Series

The last of this year’s Willoughby Symphony Orchestra Chamber series was a most exciting concert combing Schulhoff’s ( arr Tarkmann) Suite for Chamber Music and Stravinsky’s suite from THE SOLDIER”S TALE. Dynamically conducted by Luke Spicer , both works are scored in somewhat unusual arrangements for bassoon, clarinet. violin, trumpet ,trombone , double bass and percussion.

Both works were introduced by Maria Lindsay , guest concertmaster of the WSO. Continue reading THE SOLDIER’S TALE: DRAMATIC FINISH TO WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY CHAMBER SERIES


Maestro Luke Spicer

REMEMBRANCE, a most luxurious concert based on the theme of mourning and remembrance , marking the centenary of the end of World War 1 . Under the energetic , dynamic and precise leadership of Maestro Luke Spicer the Willoughby Symphony gave an impassioned performance.

From the funerals of presidents and princesses, to the inclusion in film and dance works , the concert began with Samuel Barber’s iconic Adagio for Strings – here performed at a very slow tempo in a hushed, rich tone. With the pacing and timing you could almost hear the pauses for the tears cascading. It built in momentum to a shimmering , haunting conclusion . Continue reading REMEMBRANCE: WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY – STIRRING AND ELOQUENT


The Willoughby Symphony and Choir combined to bring us an absolutely superb concert , the first of this year’s season, simply entitled GALA .  They were precisely and energetically conducted by the inspirational Dr Nicholas Milton who also introduced the various pieces and the soloists . The Choir is directed by Chorus Master Peter Ellis The program had an Italian opera theme with works by Puccini ,Rossini , Verdi etc. and the excellent soloists were from Pacific Opera. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY AND CHOIR : OPENS 2018 WITH A GLORIOUS GALA

L’enfant prodigue by Claude Debussy @ Backyard Opera

Debussy’s L’enfant Prodigue is a staged cantata by Claude Debussy with text by Édouard Guinand that runs approximately 45 minutes.

This classic parable still resonates with us today. In an increasingly isolating and individualistic society, we are confronted by our own passive vilification of people who have fallen through the cracks. The drive to succeed and express our identity comes at a cost. Humanisation and community are the remedy,

The cantata is to be directed by Lucy Scott and conducted by Luke Spicer. The work will be played by a chamber orchestra accompanied by soprano Ayşe Göknur Shanal, tenor  Joel Scott and baritone Andrew Williams. The piece runs for forty five minutes.


May 5th: 7:30PM
May 6th: 5:30 + 7:30PM
May 7th: 5:30 + 7:30PM


Backyard Opera –  a new  multi-use arts space a five minute walk from Tempe Station : http://www.backyardopera.com/contact

For more about L’enfant prodigue by Claude Debussy, visit https://www.trybooking.com/PTCM

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Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall

Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

The TMO’s  Met Concert #1 was stunning! This first concert in the 2015 season contained a challenging programme of very well-known works from the Baroque and Classical eras. These challenges were met by the soloists, orchestra and conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with discipline, energy, artistry and genuine enthusiastic music-making. If this concert is an indication of what is to emerge from TMO in 2015, then its audiences are in for quite a year.

As in many previous Met Concert series, the format included works highlighting one of the orchestra’s principals and also a guest artist. TMO strings were showcased in both chamber music and string orchestra contexts. The string orchestra was augmented and inspired by the talented Australian violinist Lisa Stewart.

TMO Principal Clarinetist Andrew Doyle presented us with a fine Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K 581 with well-balanced playing from the TMO’s string quartet featuring Nataliya Lukich, Christina Ong, Luke Spicer and Steve Meyer. Continue reading Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall