Tag Archives: Opera Australia

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