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→
This is a magnificent semi-staged production combing the forces of around 450 choristersofthe 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 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→
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.
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→
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→
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→
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.
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→
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.
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→
SYDNEY REVIEWS Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre