The film was born out of restrictions imposed on the performing arts by COVID-19 – in particular, the ban on public performances for much of 2020 – and features an all- Australian cast and creative team. It is somewhat startling but oh so exquisite and refined musically with glorious performances of the almost forgotten madrigals of Barbara Strozzi.
Barbara Strozzi was an Italian composer and singer of 17th century Venice who published eight volumes of music during her lifetime. The illegitimate daughter of a noble Venetian poet, who encouraged her to pursue her talents by studying with the acclaimed opera composer Cavalli, Strozzi was one of the few female composers of her time to write under her own name.
The music for A DELICATE FIRE was selected from Strozzi’s Opus 1, her first book of madrigals, published in 1644. The lyrics are by her poet father, Giulio Strozzi and are meditations on the diversity, exaltation, sorrows and delights of love, inspired by a quote from Sappho. Continue reading PINCHGUT OPERA : A DELICATE FIRE→
This is a Baroque opera set in ancient Roman times , yet has been updated to now in a chilling , menacing production at times countered by lyrical , exquisite music.The atmosphere of the set is dark and bleak ( almost like a construction site, or bombed out war zone, with large plastic panels , ladders and scaffolding ) and there is a menacing atmosphere of war and violence throughout .Body bags wrapped in plastic hang ominously and are at various times hauled up and down. There are chalk outlines of people on the back wall which are possibly graffiti , or perhaps hinting at ghosts of the fallen. Costumes are also contemporary including camouflage gear, balaclavas and guns. The overall effect is darkly monochromatic but there are dramatic uses of red.
When you hear “Requiem” in the classical music scene outside the church, usually composer names that come to mind are Verdi and Mozart, possibly Berlioz or Lloyd Webber for modern music fans. Not often will Antonin Dvorák come to mind though. Coming from the Romantic period (late 1800s) Dvorák is better known for his New World Symphony, Dumky Trio and very popular Slavonic Dances. He was however, a devout Catholic and, for one of his many conducting invitations to visit Great Britain (8 visits in 7 years), he was commissioned to write a Requiem for the Triennial Music Festival in Birmingham 1891.
The work was a huge success, not surprisingly, as he had already become a celebrity in the UK with a huge following of fans just waiting to see what he would come up with next. Despite this initial success, Dvorák’s Requiem did not gain the long term following of those of Verdi and Mozart but, when it is performed, it is very well received as it was tonight.Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS : DVORAK REQUIEM→
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs has this morning announced its 2018 Season comprising seven stunning productions, from the cornerstones of classical music to the best of Australian and international contemporary, and a centenary production of Bernstein’s Broadway hit, Candide.
At the heart of the program are three of the great 18th Century choral masterworks, which showcase the drive and ambition behind Australia’s leading choral performance company. These tour-de-force presentations bring their exemplary choristers together with leading Australian soloists and instrumentalists, on Sydney’s premier concert stages, conducted by Brett Weymark.
Composed over the course of 16 years at the pinnacle of his career, JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor is recognised as one of his greatest choral works. Weaving moments of overwhelming majesty with intimate solo arias, the Mass has been likened to a “cathedral in sound”, conveying every aspect of the genius that gives his music its timeless power.
For this epic production, presented on the Concert Hall stage at Sydney Opera House on Easter Saturday, the Choirs are joined by some of Australia’s most accomplished early music specialists, with the magnificent sound of the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra.
Joseph Haydn’s visionary masterpiece The Creation depicts the creation of the universe in music of sublime imagination and power, resplendent with classical optimism, grace and grandeur. Released simultaneously in both English and German in 1798, it was an overnight success and has remained a much-anticipated highlight of choral seasons ever since. Performed in the ornate splendour of Sydney Town Hall, The Creation brings the Choirs together with leading soloists led by award-winning soprano Taryn Fiebig, and for the first time, The Metropolitan Orchestra.
One of Handel’s most grand and gripping dramas, and the first of his great oratorios, Saul is a powerful exploration of love, loyalty and power, inspired by the relationship between Saul, first king of the Israelites, and his successor, David. Adapted from the Old Testament Book of Samuel, this is music of rare beauty and intensity, showcasing Handel’s instinct for vivid characterisation and profound psychological insights.
For Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Music Director, Brett Weymark, the highlight of the coming year’s program is the company’s production of Candide, presented in celebration of the centenary of one of the 20th Century’s most acclaimed and influential composers, Leonard Bernstein. Directed by Australian theatre powerhouse Mitchell Butel, with a stellar cast including Alexander Lewis in the title role, Bernstein’s Candide takes audiences on a wickedly tuneful romp through Voltaire’s classic, from its rollicking overture, through affectionate parodies of opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, tango and Broadway glitz. Candide is presented in collaboration with the acclaimed Pacific Opera and Sydney Youth Orchestra and conducted by Brett Weymark.
Presented for the first time in Sydney, Joby Talbot’s acclaimed contemporary masterpiece, Path of Miracles follows the great pilgrim trail of Camino de Santiago, drawing on the words of English poet Robert Dickinson to take audiences on an acapella journey to the edge of the known world. Composed for the virtuosic British choir, Tenebrae, the work premiered in London in July 2005, in the weeks following the city’s bombing, and became a healing balm for a shattered Sydney.
In 2018, Sydney Philharmonia’s young adult choir, VOX, renowned for their stunning acapella performances, will present one major production, reflecting their focus on modern music and a preference for short compositions that go together to form a whole program, over the longer form classics. Voyage of Voices is a collaboration with Estonia’s acclaimed E Stuudio Youth Choir, whose dynamic brand of contemporary acapella has already seen them perform at Carnegie Hall. This stunning international showcase sees each of the two choirs present contemporary works from their homelands. The VOX program be will conducted by Elizabeth Scott, E Stuudio by Külli Lokko.
It’s a Sydney Philharmonia Choirs tradition to end the year with a Christmas extravaganza, and this year is no exception with Carols at the House. It’s impossible to resist the magic of Christmas as the 500 voices of the combined Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Orchestra and special guests including acclaimed Australian opera star Teddy Tahu Rhodes light up the stage with your favourite Christmas carols, seasonal treats from stage and screen, and much more. This is a uniquely elegant Christmas celebration, on a symphonic scale, with a few surprises in the form of story-telling, sublime silliness and, of course, audience participation. Conductor Brett Weymark .
For more information about Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ 2018 Season visit:
Seldom has Sydney been treated to such a marvellous musical and visual feast. Thunderous applause, cheers and screams of bravo greeted the end of this sensational production of Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, directed by Sir David McVicar.
This is the second in a trio of Mozart works directed by McVicar that the Opera has organised. Some of the opera is joyous and sunny, but it can change in an instant and become quite dark. The Opera is about the superficiality of society and how much importance is placed on outward appearance.
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→
The latest splendid LIVE AT LUNCH concert was entitled ’ Strauss, Ravel Canteloube’‘ and featured curator Jane Rutter on flute (and assorted other instruments), Vincent Colagiuri on piano and quadruple threat ( yes quadruple threat) and Opera Australia star soprano Taryn Fiebig both singing and playing the cello (who knew that she had majored in cello at WAPPA?! ).
The roughly ¾ audience in the stalls consisted mostly of those over 55 although there were a few younger.
Rutter was stunning in a long sleeveless flowing green gown while Fiebig wore an intriguing, rather odd, possibly futuristic in style black bolero top and a horizontally quilted grey long skirt rather unflattering and stiff. Handsome pianist Vincent Colagiuri was dapper in a tuxedo. Continue reading Live at Lunch: Strauss, Ravel , Canteloube→
Musically this new version of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ is superb and thrilling with spectacularly brilliant performances from the wonderful orchestra under Maestro Jonathan Darlington (featuring the fortepiano played by Siro Battaglin for the recitative) and the glorious cast led by the great Teddy Tahu-Rhodes.
Sir David McVicar’s direction is deft and assured. This is a bleak, dark production, with quite a cold ‘feel’ .There is a swooping black curtain hiding most of the set when we enter. The huge set resembles a bombed/ruined palace with rubble, and there are pieces of marble everywhere.