Tag Archives: Opera Australia

WHITELEY@ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Brett Whiteley is a name many Australians would immediately recognise. His artwork shone so brightly and uniquely he was judged and awarded as a true genius the world over. The youngest artist ever (to this day) to have his work purchased by the Tate Gallery in London his celebrity star rose and fell, rose and fell yet his work is what lives on well beyond his untimely death at the age of 53 from a drug overdose.

Another work has now been completed in his name which can continue that legacy. Opera Australia’s commission for a biographical opera of his life, personally overseen by his ex-wfe Wendy Whiteley, was awarded to Elena Kats-Chernin a much loved composer here in Oz. Her work has its own unique, easily recognisable quality yet her love for art allowed her to delve deeply into Whiteley’s life and work to create a musical representation as unique as him. The premiere was held last night at the Sydney Opera House to a very full house.

The rhythm and flow of the music took a while to settle in, switching between vignette scenes of Whiteley’s turning points in life. Such a transient lifestyle, sometimes deliberate, sometimes unavoidable, called for transient music and there seemed to be very little to grab onto.

Whiteley himself said, “I really paint to try and astonish myself. That’s the basic sort of thing. To see what I haven’t seen. That can run off the rails but certainly repetition kills the spirit quicker than anything else. I mean I’d rather not do anything than go over old ground.”

This feels like what Kats-Chernin was aiming to achieve musically as well so, for those familiar with traditional opera looking for the audible clues to the end of an act/scene or where appreciative applause can be given after an aria, this may feel rather unsteady.

Like a musical play, there were times when a musical phase felt complete yet there were still 3 or 4 words needed to complete the sentence. Other times the familiar Kats-Chernin style flowed in great richness and sense of humour where the audience vibe lifted and relaxed. Conductor Tahu Matheson took an active role in the creative process so was well able to steer the very capable orchestra through the new material.

The libretto by Justin Fleming included many quotes and critiques from the life and times of Whiteley.  This often dumbfounded the audience with phrases that were patronising in their application and sounded highly intellectual or overly poetic. It felt a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes idea where, if you put your hand up and said “I have no friggin’ idea what you just said”, you might be laughed at. I am guessing these words were the art critic voices Whiteley held in such disdain.

One of the strongest parts of the libretto that the audience responded to was the story of a mass murderer which fascinated Whiteley. In plain English the story was told followed up by a moving gallery of the ladies of the chorus parading past as victims plastered into the walls of his home. Whiteley said he was looking for the singular point of evil and this is what he had found. His astounding painting of the murderer was displayed in the background. A very moving moment.

What were the performers like?  The cast, in dealing with the challenges of free flowing music as well as constantly learning newly updated material during rehearsals were dealing with a task far greater than the regular season. They did a fantastic job.

Usually in opera, the singer’s musical capabilities and interpretation take the highest priority but in this production the title role, played by American Baritone Leigh Melrose, showed an acting ability far beyond what is normally expected of a singer. Whiteley is a complex, wide ranging character from a 20 year old surprised at the overnight success, to rock star socialite, tentative father and defeated drug addict.

Creating a character on stage that both newbies or experts can believe in and relate to is an exceptional challenge. Melrose rose to that challenge and I expect there would be few, if any, singers around the world who could better his performance. This is his debut role with Opera Australia and I really hope we see him return to Australia again.

Whiteley’s wife, played by Queensland Soprano Julie Lea Goodwin was outstanding. A powerful voice and highly versatile actress. I last saw her in the comedy role of Two Weddings One Bride for Opera Australia and she is well known for her Musical Theatre roles so this role should open the door to more serious roles if she desires.

As gorgeous and glamorous as the real life Wendy, Goodwin carried the story with Melrose progressing from a 15 year old student through to grieving 50-something ex-wife. Well established principal for Opera Australia Mezzo Domenica Matthews gave a very strong performance as Whiteley’s mother – the audience loved her.

I attended the talk Opera Australia held in the Utzon Room of Sydney Opera House 2 weeks ago as promotion for the production. The talk highlighted the constant flow of edits to be managed by a team working through the night to produce manuscripts for the following day. This process had been running 24 hours a day for around 6 months. So the focus of the whole company was “It’ll be alright on the night” and it was. If there were any major mistakes, we didn’t spot them. The mammoth task of creating a premiere seems to have bonded the already strong team vibe amongst both cast and production personnel.

The large video walls previously used in Aida, Madame Butterfly and Anna Bolena were used again for the ever changing scenery, and this time it felt like a perfect balance, neither upstaging nor overwhelming in video imagery. It enhanced the performance with large scale versions of Whiteley’s artwork, sometimes older artwork he was studying bursting into life, other times quiet, abstract panels to keep the focus on the performers – the best production yet in the use of these panels with credit to Director David Freeman, Production Designer Dan Potra, Video and Projection Design Sean Nieuwenhuis.

The audience gave a rousing applause at the conclusion, with many curtain calls. The performance  was just over two hours including interval and kept our attention throughout. It is a short season so hurry along if you want to see the most new and innovative production of the year.

Premiere season at Sydney Opera House 15 until 30 July 2019

Opera Australia website: https://opera.org.au/

GREAT OPERA HITS @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

This is an event that sounds like a perfect thing to do late on a Sunday afternoon.  Opera Australia is presenting a concert GREAT OPERA HITS when Opera Australia stars will sing popular arias from some of the world’s greatest operas in a 90 minute concert with one interval. The singers will be accompanied by a pianist. 

Highlights  will include:

ROSSINI ‘Largo al factotum’ from The Barber of Seville

BIZET Excerpts from Carmen

DELIBES ‘Flower Duet’ from Lakme

BIZET ‘Au fond du temple saint’ duet from The Pearlfishers

VERDI Brindisi from La Traviata

PUCCINI ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot

PUCCINI ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca

The recurring Sunday afternoon  concert will take place between July 7 and October 27  (start time of 5pm)  so there will be plenty of chances to see the show.  

Cultural guide and affordable ticketing app, TodayTix is offering Sydneysiders $54 tickets to the show.

What: Opera Australia Presents Great Opera Hits

When: July 7 – October 27 2019

Where: Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW 2000

Price: $54 + $5 booking fee, available via TodayTix.

 

 

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

CANDIDE: MUSICALLY AND VOCALLY STUNNING

Production Images: Grant Leslie

This is a magnificent semi-staged production combing the forces of around 450 choristers of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, performers from Sydney’s Pacific Opera , 80 musicians from the Sydney Youth Orchestra and glittering stars from Opera Australia and musicals.It was directed by Mitchell Butel with a sure touch and with excellent phrasing ,timing and a wonderful comic touch .

Rarely performed ,the comic operetta originally premiered in 1956 and is adapted from a novella of the same name written by the Enlightenment-era philosopher Voltaire. It satirizes the predominant attitudes of Voltaire’s era , particularly those of the church and of monarchism , as well as class divisions and academe , has chocolate soldiers and question the meaning and purpose of life.

 The plot is perhaps tangled and overly rambling , possibly a little weak in construction but is still very relevant to day and the score itself is infectiously enchanting and ranges in style from tango, Broadway , Gilbert and Sullivan to high opera. Musical director and conductor Brett Weymark energetically and enthusiastically led the Orchestra and HUGE choir superbly – musically and vocally this was a stunning performance . Continue reading CANDIDE: MUSICALLY AND VOCALLY STUNNING

THE TURK IN ITALY – MODERN AUSSIE OPERA

This image: Graeme Macfarlane as Albazar, Anna Dowsley as Zaida and chorus in Opera Australia’s 2018 production of The Turk in Italy at the Sydney Opera House. Photo credit: Keith Saunders
Featured image: The Opera Australia Chorus in Opera Australia’s 2018 production of The Turk in Italy at the Sydney Opera House. Photo credit: Keith Saunders

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 RIGOLETTO: AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER

This image: Dalibor Jenis as Rigoletto
Featured image: Dalibor Jenis as Rigoletto and Irina Lungu as Gilda
Production photography: Prudence Upton

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.

This production is directed by revival director Hugh Halliday and features magnificent leads and arresting chorus performances , while concentrating and accenting its dramatic core . Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA’S RIGOLETTO: AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER

OPERA AUSTRALIA : LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

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

DON QUICHOTTE @ THE DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

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

OPERA AUSTRALIA LA TRAVIATA

This image:Ji-Mn Park as Alfredo in Opera Australia’s La Traviata.                                                                Banner Image: Nicole Car as Violetta
Photos: Prudence Upton

Lush ,lavish and opulent this is a superb revival of the glorious 1994 production by Elijah Moshinksy and there was great excitement as it marked Nicole Car’s debut in the role of Violetta.

Shocking and scandalous at the time of its 1853 premiere, the now classic tale of poor Violetta and Alfredo, of Consumption and thwarted true love is based on a Dumas novel. Moshinsky , Yeargan and Hall set it in 1877 – so think bustles rather than crinolines and the start of the ‘Belle Epoque’. Yeargan’s designs are themed around the seasons.  Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA LA TRAVIATA

OPERA AUSTRALIA: THE MERRY WIDOW @ DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Above: Alexander Lewis and Danielle de Niese as Danilo Danilovich and Hanna Glavari. Featured image: Danielle de Niese and male ensemble.

It is a challenge to present a modern public with something of a soap-operetta like The Merry Widow. This light work profiles gender, marriage and loyalty to a small state very specifically and in a contrasting way to our contemporary approach.

However, the cast and creatives at Opera Australia, and Lehár’s direct and beautiful score as interpreted with infectious lilt by Vanessa Scammell save the day in this regard. The attractive, engaging production spills over us with sumptuous momentum, visual delights and a dazzling, physicality to the storytelling. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA: THE MERRY WIDOW @ DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

OPERA AUSTRALIA’S NYE GLITZ AND GLAMOUR

Sian Pendry, Dragana Radakovich and Emma Matthews perform the Opera Gala on New Year’s Eve.
Photo: Ken Leanfore.

Ringside seats to one of the greatest shows on earth are hard to come by but Opera Australia has some of the best in town, when they take over both the Joan Sutherland Theatre and the Concert
Hall in the Sydney Opera House to stage two sensational performances right in the middle of the action. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA’S NYE GLITZ AND GLAMOUR

OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

This joyous, frothy operetta is a sheer delight. Robert Andrew Greene’s TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE is adapted from Charles Lecocq’s 1874 classic operetta Girofle-Girofla. Musically it blends some of the most famous and beautiful songs of the operetta repertoire (Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman, Lecocq, Stolz ) yet at times it sounds like Mozart, Verdi or even Gilbert and Sullivan.

There is a lush Oriental minimal set design by Owen Phillips – looking as if it could be for The Abduction From The Seraglio or some such – and stunning costumes by Tim Chappel. Andrew Hallsworth’s choreography is inventive and the small cast of five perform with great comic timing.

Polished musical accompaniment was provided by pianist Robert Andrew Green and violinist Yuhki Mayne. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS THE PEARL FISHERS @ JOAN SUTHERLAND AUDITORIUM

The Pearlfishers1
Production photography by Keith Saunders.

This is a new production by Michael Gow and there have been some changes that make it an intriguing version. The music has been preserved as have the key plot ideas however the characters have been changed to provide them with more realistic and believable motivations. The opera is set in colonial Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) of the 1860’s.

One can nitpick about aspects of this Opera-  the rather hurried and sloppy libretto , and especially the dramatic structure of the plot- where most of the major events in the story happen off-stage, and the crucial turning point is at the start Act 2, which means there is not much plot development or action for the remainder of the other two acts. As well, much of the story revolves around the villagers’ Hinduism, yet Ceylon has been a mostly Buddhist nation for the last millennium. As well, the opera is set in the supposedly seaside city of Kandy, which is in reality in the centre of the island, not near the sea – but that is 19th century Romantic opera for you! Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS THE PEARL FISHERS @ JOAN SUTHERLAND AUDITORIUM

THE RABBITS @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

Production photography by Jon Green
Production photography by Jon Green

This major highlight of the 2016 Sydney Festival is a must see. Based on the acclaimed picture book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, and the winner of several Helpmann Awards, THE RABBITS, adapted and directed by John Sheedy with score by Kate Miller-Hendke and libretto by Lally Katz, is a combined production between Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company.

There are no exact references in the book to time and place, but the visual cues give the game away, with the play clearly set in Australia.

THE RABBITS tells a parable of out of control colonisation seen through the eyes of the Indigenous population, the Marsupials, and the disastrous impact of the Rabbits- the colonising British.

There were some stand-out scenes in including a disturbing ensemble number where the Rabbits get the Marsupials drunk,  and a sombre march sequence where the Rabbits begin by destroying the landscape and end by abducting the children…

Composer and performer Kate Miller-Heidke in collaboration with Iain Grandage has devised a score that blends late 20th-century classical music with many other musical strands and influences, including interesting percussive effects and music ranging from music hall to electronic. The small band on stage was excellent and interacted, at one point, with the rest of the cast. Continue reading THE RABBITS @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s Don Carlos @ Joan Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House

Don Carlos-inset
Inset pic- Milijana Nikolic as Princess Eboli and Latonia Moore as Elizabeth La Valois. Featured pic- Daniel Sumagi as the Grand Inquisitor and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Phillip 11 in Opera Australia’s DON CARLOS. Production pics by Jamie Williams.

This production of Don Carlos is the 1884 four-act version and is an extremely impressive revival of the magnificent 1999 Elijah Moshinsky staging. It is the biggest production by Opera Australia since the recent Ring Cycle in Melbourne and at one point features over two hundred people on stage.

Musically it is glorious with outstanding singing and superb playing by the orchestra under the impassioned baton of maestro Andrea Licata which acknowledges and respects each note of this complex, difficult and long score (listen out for the Flamenco influences) and simultaneously allows the work to ‘breathe’ and become intensely dramatic. Continue reading Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s Don Carlos @ Joan Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House

Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s La Traviata @ The Dame Joan Theatre

Rame Lahaj as Alfredo and Lorina Gore as Violetta in Verdi's classic opera LA TRAVIATA
Rame Lahaj as Alfredo and Lorina Gore as Violetta in Verdi’s classic opera LA TRAVIATA

Verdi’s classic tragedy of the ‘fallen woman’, LA TRAVIATA, is enjoying a revival in Sydney via the lush realism of director Elijah Moshinsky’s 1994 version. The motifs of fragility, sacrifice and disintegration emerge from the striking detail of the salon scenes and effectively contrasted desolate locations.

Michael Yeargan’s four highly contrasted sets remain design achievements which are a treat for newcomers and former fans alike. The costuming created by Peter J Hall for both formal party scenes and domestic life complement each striking backdrop.

In the story’s opening party hosted by courtesan Violetta Valéry, we see her return to the social scene after a break to receive treatment for tuberculosis. A shock profession of love from Alfredo Germont, challenges and confuses Violetta. Continue reading Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s La Traviata @ The Dame Joan Theatre

Opera Australia’s Turandot @ The Dame Joan

Members of the Opera Australia ensemble. Photo: Branco Gaica
Members of the Opera Australia ensemble. Photo: Branco Gaica

It has been said that there are two emotions, love and fear. The creative pairing of Puccini and Graeme Murphy is successful in vividly outlining such feelings in the current revival of Murphy’s stunning production.

Conductor Christian Badea presents a strong realisation of Puccini’s atmospheric score. Inspired by this music, Murphy uses intersecting movement prescribed for sub-sections of the ensemble as well as challenging unisons at times such as human waves depicting swirling emotions and troubled minds.

The setting, Peking’s Imperial Palace, is evoked with excellent composite sets and shifting textures as designed by Kristian Fredrikson. His detailed costuming and props dazzle, as does the choreography which asks for these to be manipulated during poses so as to hide or reveal the characters’ vulnerabilities or suggest general unrest. Continue reading Opera Australia’s Turandot @ The Dame Joan

Faust @ The Dame Joan

Inset Pic- Michael Fabiano as Faust with Teddy Rhodes as Mephistopheles in Opera Australia's production of FAUST. Featured Pic- The Company. Pics Lisa Tomasetti
Inset Pic- Michael Fabiano as Faust with Teddy Rhodes as Mephistopheles in Opera Australia’s production of FAUST. Featured Pic- The Company. Pics Lisa Tomasetti

Succumb to Mephistopheles power in this lavish, opulent, thrilling production. Visually stunning, musically glorious, with three superb leading performers, this is a magical highlight of this year’s Opera Australia season.

The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra under the energetic, dynamic and enthusiastic baton of maestro GuillaumeTourniaire delivered a lustrous, splendid performance of Gounod’s lush, hugely expansive score with an edgy tempo.The ensemble chorus work, under the direction of Anthony Hunt, was inspiring and well-balanced.

The plot of Gounod’s opera is deeply rooted in religion, superstition and morality. In Charles Francois Gounod’s opera, aged and despairing philosopher Faust (Michael Fabiano) sells his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles (Teddy Tahu Rhodes), in exchange for youth and the chance to pursue a beautiful innocent, Margeurite (Nicole Car). Continue reading Faust @ The Dame Joan

Madama Butterfly @ The Dame Joan

Sian Pendry as Suzuki and Alexia Voulgaridou as Cio-Cio-San
Sian Pendry as Suzuki and Alexia Voulgaridou as Cio-Cio-San

Puccini’s early twentieth century opera MADAMA BUTTERFLY offers soloists and audience much of what they relish in the genre. The main characters are complex, with savage twists and turns in their emotional journeys. The music serves the drama well as the compact storyline hurtles towards its terrible conclusion.

The design and dramatic realisation of this Opera Australia production makes for a spellbinding night of theatre. The commitment of the cast to convey timeless feelings, struggles and the unique beauty of Puccini’s score ensures this example of opera is always fresh and relevant for 2015.

Conductor Anthony Legge brings the score to life with clarity and focus in moments of conversation, atmosphere or large arias alike. The brass entries with fragments of the US national anthem penetrate hauntingly.

Continue reading Madama Butterfly @ The Dame Joan

The Magic Flute @ The Joan

Emma Matthews as The Queen of the Night. Photo by Branco Gaica
Emma Matthews as The Queen of the Night. Photo by Branco Gaica

Opera Australia is currently revisiting the Metropolitan Opera’s production of THE MAGIC FLUTE, first performed in Sydney in 2014. It is a stunning and simply beautiful illustration of the endurance of opera in a modern guise. Its scenes repeatedly proclaim opera as fantastic with high Fs, as well as resoundingly relevant in our modern creative world.

Mozart and librettist Schikaneder would love the transformation of their shifting dramatic epicentres and colourful characters in this production. The hyper-realism of tensions between the powerful Queen of the Night and the order of enlightened initiatives and priests is emphasised by Julie Taymor’s puppetry design and layered costumes. Continue reading The Magic Flute @ The Joan

2014 Sydney Arts Guide Stage & Screen Awards

Bell Shakespeare's WINTERS TALE  2014 winner - Best stage production
Bell Shakespeare’s WINTERS TALE  2014 winner – Best stage production

 

Sydney Arts Guide is a key part of stage and film culture, and exists to celebrate the art of performance, in theatres and cinemas.

2014 was a year of amazing diversity, and our twenty accredited specialist reviewers, were all spoiled for choice in the quality of the live theatre performances to be experienced in the City of Sydney, and the suburbs of Sydney.

As the old adage goes, “live theatre is not dead theatre, as there is a different performance to be experienced every night”. Our team of professional reviewers, have each nominated their personal preferences for both theatre and cinema. A small number of movies were nominated out of the hundreds of cinema films that were seen during the last twelve months.

At the end of another outstanding year for the arts in Sydney, on Wednesday 31st December 2014, Sydney Arts Guide announced its 2014 awards in these Stage and Screen categories:-

Continue reading 2014 Sydney Arts Guide Stage & Screen Awards

The King and I

Lisa McCune (Anna Leonowens) and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (King of Siam) in THE KING AND I. Pic Brian Geach
Lisa McCune (Anna Leonowens) and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (King of Siam) in THE KING AND I. Pic Brian Geach

Opera Australia have brought to Sydney a most splendid production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I with a gigantic cast and glorious , lavishly opulent ,dazzling sets and costumes .Directed by Christopher Renshaw ,it is an aural , olfactory and visual feast and treat : Brian Thomson’s set designs are outstanding as are Roger Kirk’s costumes. The curtains, screens etc allow for almost cinematic fluid scene changes , torches burn brightly and incense wafts through the auditorium.

Continue reading The King and I

The Elixir of Love

Conal Coad as Dulcamara and Aldo Di Toro as Nemorino. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti
Conal Coad as Dulcamara and Aldo Di Toro as Nemorino. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti

This comic opera gem by Donizetti is being performed in a rollicking revival production by Opera Australia. Simon Phillips’ direction of the opera buffa is set in rural Australia in 1915, complete with typical soldiers and civilians. It manages to maintain all tensions, humour and spontaneity of the original Italian scenes.

Whilst period colloquialisms enliven the surtitles, as well as horses, sheep, cows and chickens being omnipresent, Donizetti’s music and characters are never compromised. The colourful set and props reflect Australia’s traditional and modern relationship to corrugated iron. High-quality traditional singing and acting emerge from a cartoon-like twentieth century packaging.

This cast is capable of offering strong personas in line with classic opera buffa characters. Successful solo patter singing and energetic work in groups from duet through to full ensemble help the action gallop along. From an initial side-saddle entry Rachelle Durkin’s Adina continues to be a suitably bold sheila who also demonstrates what bel canto singing is all about. She is radiating in the fabulous freshness of Gabriela Tylesova’s costume design. Continue reading The Elixir of Love