Hansel and Gretel
Victorian Opera’s second children’s opera for2018 was Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
A short 55-minute production which did not allow enough time for children to get bored. In fact the many children In the audience were enthralled and not a sound was heard during the whole production.
Based on the old fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm with a few changes making it a little less horrible to modern thinking yet keeping a touch of terror enough to keep the children’s interest in the good and bad.
Hansel and Gretel were performed by Shakira Dugan and Cleo Lee-McGowan giving wonderful performances with the never-to-be forgotten Abendsegen.
Kirilie Blythman was the mother, Angel and Child. Stephen Marsh was the father, Angel and Child, Matthew Thomas was Angel and Child.
The Sandman was played by Douglas Kelly, the Dew Fairy was played by Michelle McCarthy and the Witch was performed by Tomas Dalton.
All the cast captured the essence of their characters with expertise and the voices added to the standard of the afternoon.
Tomas Dalton created a great interpretation of the evil witch but without frightening the children too much. A scene which caught the delight of the children was the moment Gretel turned tables on the witch and by doing so released herself and Hansel from the witch’s evil intent.
A good entertaining afternoon and a great introduction to opera by Victorian Opera.
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire
Revival Director: John Sheedy
Opera Australia’s Melbourne Autumn season closed with the production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.
Opening was a village square in Spain in front of Dulcinea’s house where a festival is in full force. A great chorus and adding to the enjoyment of the festival were a group of Spanish Dancers. A terrific and genuine performance.
Dulcinea was performed by Sian Pendry. Pendry caught the character of La Belle Dulcinea with aplomb adding to her wonderful voice the art of a great actor bringing sensitivity to her scenes with Don Quichotte and her treatment of her lovers. A great performance.
Don Quichotte was performed by bass singer and actor Ferruccio Furlanetto. A great interpretation of the character with some wonderful scenes such as the scene where he was taken by the bandits, upon return to Dulcinea and the final moment. Furlanetto beside having the voice for the role is a well experienced actor which assists to the high standard of his performance.
Don Quichotte’s squire Sancho Panza was excellently performed by Warwick Fyfe. A dominating performance of a squire who was more than just a servant. Some very poignant moments between the two and some humorous spots. Fyfe added to the high standard of the production with a magnificent voice and remarkable acting ability.
Some outstanding scenes were the opening fiesta, the bandit’s capture of Don Quichotte, the aria by Sian Pendry with a soleras by Spanish dancer Ana Interiano, and the final scene with Don Quichotte and Sancho Panza..
Opera Australia’s sets were outstanding really giving the feel of being in Spain.
A good evening of opera to conclude the Melbourne Autumn season.
Opera Australia’s second production for the Melbourne Autumn season was Puccini’s Tosca.
A story of the artist Mario Cavaradossi and his lover Fiona Tosca, her brother Cesare Angelotti who has just escaped from prison and asks his friend the artist Mario to help him.
Puccini set the opera in the 190ty century, but director John Bell has brought it into the time of Fascist Italy under the occupation of the Germans in WWII. This did not mar the context of the story in fact brought it more to the understanding of present day audiences. .
Tosca was sung and performed by leading soprano Latonia Moore. An amazing and magnificent performance with a lovely duet between Moore and Diego Torre. Adding to her remarkable voice was her aria in act 2 which held the audience spellbound.
Her lover, the artist Mario Cavaradossi was performed by Diego Torres. Another first-class performance with a great rapport between the leading couple and the superb tenor of Torres.
The Nazi in charge of the town, Baron Scarpia was performed by Marco Vratogna. A good stern performance expected of such a role and his baritone is given full voice in his interpretation of the Cantabile di Scarpia.
The escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti was performed by Gennadi Dubinsky also giving a great performance aided by a wonderful voice.
The sets were outstanding; the opening and first act scene was in the Sant’ Andrea della Valle church The second act was the Palazzo Farnese and Act 3 was the Castel Sant’ Angelo over the river Tiber.
Set one was a complete replica of the interior of Sant’ della Valle. Set 2 a replica pf the Palazzo Farnese and Set 3 the interior of an Italian prison.
Some outstanding scenes were the Te Deum by the Opera Australia Chorus and the Children’s Chorus.
A very pleasant evening of opera with a welcome addition to the Melbourne arts scene
Opera Australia opened the Melbourne Autumn season with Verdi’s La Traviata.
A story of Violetta a famous Parisian courtesan who has returned from a sanatorium and throws a party to mark her re-emergence in the demi-mode under the protection of Baron Douphol.
The stage was a picture, set as Violetta’s Paris home with the designs drawn from detailed 19th century impressionist paintings. Costuming also from the same source. This results in a magnificent stage setting giving a realistic feel to the period. Other scenes were also outstanding representing the time giving the audiences a genuine feel of the period.
At the party Alfredo confesses his love to Violetta. The duet between Corinne Winters as Violetta and Yosep Kang as Alfredo had the audience transfixed, superb timing and wonderful voices which set the tone for the remainder of the evening.
Some god scenes were the guests dressed as gypsies dancing and singing livening up the evening, Alfredo winning at cards and a very moving scene with Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germant sung and performed by José Carbo. Carbo equalled the standard pf the evening with not only his magnificent voice but his very skilled and moving acting throughout his performance. The set scenes were very smoothly changed and the technical production was superb.
The orchestra conducted by Carlo Montnaro, was excellent and the accompany with the singers was in perfect balance, neither to loud nor to soft.
A great start to Opera Australia’s Melbourne Autumn season.
The Magic Pudding
Director: Cameron Menzies.
Sonductor: Fabian Russell.
Victorian Opera with the assistance of a Youth Chorus and Community Chorus and the Victorian Opera Orchestra brought opera to the younger generation with the production of Norman Lindsay’s probably best-known story The Magic Pudding.
With the Narrator Georgia Wilkinson as a cockatoo well costumed and fluttering around he stage before flying up into a gum tree where she sang the story. A wonderful voice, clear and easily understood by the youngest members of the audience.,
Nathan Lay was Bunyip Bluegum a koala. Costuming was amazing with good makeup Nathan looked like a koala, acted well and his voice added to the standard of the production. Timothy Reynolds was Bill Barnacle the sailor who with Sam Sawnoff and Bunyip Bluegum saved the Magic Pudding from the dastardly pudding thieves. Reynolds gave a great interpretation of such a role added by his magnificent voice. Sam Sawnoff, a penguin, was played by Brenton Spiteri. Difficult to move in his costume as a penguin but Spiteri handled the character with finesse and added to his companions in the singing sequences.
Albert the pudding was a puppet pudding with the basin as a hat. He was manipulated by Jeremy Kleeman, handled to puppet with expertise which the younger members of the audience enjoyed.
The evil pudding thieves were Possum played by Shakira Tsindos and Wombat played by Shakira Dugan who also portrayed Rooster.
Smaller roles were the Carlos E. Bάrcenas as the judge, Douglas Kelly as the constable and hedgehog and Stephen Marsh as Benjimen Brandysnap.
A matinee afternoon with the theatre full of children taken by their parents and in many cases grandparents who also enjoyed the show. An example of how good the production was about 90% of the children kept completely quiet throughout the whole performance.
The stage was wonderfully set with gumtrees, a large gumtree stump for the narrator to sit on and the floor was the colour of outback.
A wonderful afternoon of opera giving the next generation an insight into classical music presented in a mot amusing and interesting way.
Gold & Silver Operetta
t The Knowe
4 Clarkmont RD.
An interesting afternoon of music from various operettas was presented by the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria on Saturday February 24.
In a private residence set in the Dandenong Ranges the company had five singers, three male and two female.
Jessica Carrascalao-Heard, soprano, Peter Mander, Tenor, Nick Sharman, baritone, Laura Slavin, coloratura soprano, Paul Tooby, baritone.
Richard Burman was narrator not only introducing each performance but adding to the enjoyment of the afternoon by telling the audience a little history of the writers and of the song and which operetta it was from.
Adding to the atmosphere of the era od operettas the men ere dressed in evening suits, swallowtail with a red buttonhole flower and the ladies dressed for the period.
The afternoon opened with Nick Sharman and Paul Tooby singing and performing The Gendarmes Duet from Jacques Offenbach’s Genevieve de Brabent. A delightful performance with a touch of comedy and enhanced by two wonderful baritones.
The rest of the afternoon lived up to the standard set by the opening number with operetta’s not often heard these days. Such as Veronique by Brigid Audran. Some popular pieces from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, The Gypsy Princess by Enmerich Kalman and the very popular Goodbye from Whitehorse Inn.
A very enjoyable afternoon with a high and wonderful standard of voice from the performers and a production strongly recommended to see.
Season opened Saturday February 24 and is on Saturday March 3 & 4at 2pm.Gardens open at 1pm. Bookings: 8470 8280.
The Merry Widow
Director/Choreographer: Graeme Murphy
Conductor: Vanessa Scammell
The State Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Opera Australia’s final Melbourne performance for 2017.
The selection was Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow with Graeme Murphy as Director and Choreographer.
As Graeme Murphy says “How thrilling to have Justin Fleming’s new adaptation which respects the original while injecting peace and clarity. This clarity is reflected in the elegant Art Deco set design by Michael Scott-Mitchell, which transports us to a world far from the bubble of the now.”
The result is certainly spectacular. Amazing sets of the Art Deco period enhanced by the wonderful costuming and the high standard of the production.
Hanna Glawari, the Merry Widow was given an outstanding performance by Danielle de Niese. Danielle has the amazing background being the youngest ever member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
This expertise certainly showed in her performance. Not only a lovely, strong and magnificent voice but a talented dancer and actor. She also has a great rapport with Alexander Lewis as Count Danilo Danilowitsch.
Alexander Lewis really caught the feel of the Count as envisaged by Lehar. A wonderful portrayal, great strong voice added to by good acting also a good rapport with Danielle de Niese.
Some light-hearted moments were by the Pontevedrin Ambassador Baron Mirko Zeta played by David Whitney. Another great performance with Whitney giving the correct comic touch to such a character.
His very young wife Valencienne, who had eyes on Camille, Count de Rosillon, French attaché to the embassy.
Valencienne was performed by Stacey Alleaume who gave a stunning performance in such a role. Camille was performed by John Longmuir. Longmuir caught the essence of the character giving a smooth flowing performance working well with Alleaume.
Two other comic characters were Raoul de St. Brioche, a French diplomat and Vicomte Cascada, a Latin diplomat. Brioche was played by Brad Cooper and Cascade was played by Luke Gabbedy. Both had the required sense of the comique and their performances were very amusing aided by wonderful voices.
The dancers gave outstanding performances both as Pontevedrin peasants and waiters in Maxim’s. One could see Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon’s touch in the choreography.
The chorus added to the high standard of the production making the end of a successful Melbourne season for Opera Australia.
Photos by Jeff Busby
The Pirates of Penzance
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria.
The Pirates of Penzance.
Director: Nicolas Renfree-Marks.
Musical Director: Trevor Henley.
Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre was the venue for GSOV’s production of The Pirates of Penzance.
\A rather different production to the usual and quoting the director Nicholas Renfree-Marks who said in my research on ass-kicking women, two themes emerged, women at work in WWI and the history of female pirates. Perfect. With some small but fundamental changes we were able to drag the show into the start of the next century setting it in an alternate steam-punk inspired timeline of WWI. Pour wards in chancery became the daughters of the aristocracy, sent to the coast to avoid the London bombings. The bumbling bobbies became rifle shooting soldiers (MP’s).
We’ve swapped a wooden pirate ship for a brass landing craft and the Pirate King becomes a Pirate Queen.”
GSOV set the mood of the evening with the entry into the centre surrounded by barb wire entanglements and in the foyer members of the society were dressed in the costumes of the period. Each side of the stage were more barb wire entanglements.
During entry into the theatre, interval and at the end of the evening music of the period was played. All the above certainly set the mood for the such a production.
The opening scene was a landing craft entering from audience left dropping the front and then the pirates poured out. Each dressed individually and were celebrating Frederic’s coming of age and completing his indentures..
Frederic was given a great performance by Nathan Michael Wright. Good stage presentation with a high quality voice, clear and not strained.
His love to be, Mabel was played by Laura Slavin. Slavin had the correct innocence as envisaged, giving a great interpretation of the role matched by her lovely voice.
Frederic’s nemesis, Ruth, as one may call her, his old nurse who told him she was very attractive but then he saw General Stanley’s daughters.
Ruth was given a good performance by Katrina Katz who captured the essence of such s character. Major General Stanley was played by Andrew McGrail. McGrail has a great sense of the comique giving an outstanding portrayal of the bumbling major general who told the pirates a little white lie which pricked his conscience for the balance of the sho.
Carol Whitfield was the Pirate Queen, good stage presence, with voice to ma6tch with some good sword fighting sequences showing at that time women could stand up for their rights.
A well done production with good sets setting the period and the correct wording as necessary.
Opera Australia - Ferruccio Furlanetto & Igor Tchetuev.
October 2 at the Melbourne Recital Centre saw Italian Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto perform with accompanist Igor Tchetuev.
Ferruccio Furlanetto was born in Sacile Italy in 1949 and made his international career as King Phillip II in Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Salzburg Easter Festival with Herbert von Karajan in 1086. In the same year he dubuted at the Salzburg Summer Festival with the role of Figaro. His debuts on the leading opera stages happened earlier: Teatro alla Scala (1979), Metropolitan Opera (1980), Vienna State Opera (1985).
Ferruccio Furlanetto’s accompanist Igor Tchetuev was born in Ukraine and studied with Vladimir Krainev and won many international prizes. Igor has performed across Europe with many orchestras and gives numerous recitals and chamber music concerts across Europe.
A good team for a great night of music at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
The Melbourne season was a Russian program with songs of Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky.
The Melbourne Recital Centre has virtually perfect acoustics which certainly enhanced Furlanetto’s wonderful bass.
Furlanetto gave a very emotional performance with his vice giving good light and shade to same.
An excellent evening of a bass singer giving full voice to the Slavic music not often heard in Melbourne. Tenors are fairly commonplace in Australia but to hear a good bass is rare and after Furlanetto’s voice was a rare and wonderful privilege
Furlanetto’s accompanist Igor Tchetuev was a perfect balance giving the right support and the correct feel to the Russian music.
A wonderful evening not often present in Melbourne and the audience showed their appreciation with the artists coming out for an encore then receiving a standing ovation.
Conductor: David Kran
Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Melbourne Opera’s choice of production for the second venture at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre was Wagner’s Lohengrin.
A story of Telramund who accuses his ward Elsa of murdering her brother. Elsa is called to defend herself and calls for the knight of whom she dreamed to come and save her.
The stage was simply set; at stage rear were a set of steps used in different positions throughout the production. The rear was a large screen used to show in act 1 a country scene and Act 2 the interior of a church. Act 3 reverted back to Act 1.
Simple but very effective.
Lohengrin the mystery knight was given a superb performance by tenor Marius Vlad.
Vlad has a brilliant voice, good stage presentation and worked well with Elsa (Helena Dix)
Helena Dix as the wronged victim of the story was given a wonderful interpretation, showing her soprano and acting skills with a good rapport with Marius Vlad,
Friedrich of Telramund, Count of Brabant was performed by Hrólfur Saemundsson, the villain of the piece. A great performance with another good stage presentation, voice to match and good acting.
Friedrich’s wife, Ortrud was given an outstanding performance in both presentation and a wonderful mezzo soprano, very clear enunciation and a pleasure for the audience.
Heinrich, the King of Germany was played by Eddie Mulaumaseali, outstanding presentation as a king, good stage appearance enhanced by a good strong baritone.
A large cast with good movement, strong voices and well directed.
A long evening of opera but so entertaining one did not realise that the time passed.
Another great success for the Melbourne Opera and a company to be added to your opera diary.
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Diana Burleigh
A story of fairies, a fairy who married a human, their son Strephon, a half fairy, the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellor.
A simply set stage yet giving the essence of feel to the performance.
A large cast working smoothly, projecting well and a delight for the audience.
The costuming was excellent with some unusual twists at the final scenes.
Ron Pidcock was the Lord Chancellor. A great and amusing performance set off by a good voice. A very entertaining Lord Chancellor.
Earl Monterarat, played by Alfred Anderson and Earl Tolloller played by Darren Rosenfeld added to the humour and enjoyment of the evening. Private Wills was performed by Robin Halls who caught the feel of the member of the Guards who was not easily distracted. A good performer.
The half fairy, half human, Strephon was given a good performance by Andrew McGrail. A very pleasant voice, good acting and a fine rapport with his beloved Phyllis played by Phoebe Deklerk.
Deklerk gave the role the innocence called for with some good acting scenes with the House of Lords who all loved her. Adding to her acting abilities was balanced with a very pleasant voice.
Iolanthe, Strephon’s fairy mother was given a wonderful interpretation by Nadia Miglardi. She has a good stage presence, a lovely voice, good acting ability and was great opposite Andrew McGrail and Ron Pidcock.
Another good performance was given by Alexandra Amerides as the Queen of the Fairies. Amerides projected very well, a good voice balanced by a wonderful portrayal of such a role.
A delight was the Lord Chancellor’s train bearer who kept in step even in the dance movements, had good stage presence and was played by young schoolboy Evan McGrail.
Overall a fine evening of G&S but the first half was a little stilted with not much movement from the singers but the second half improved to the audience’s enjoyment.
Director: John Bell
Opera Australia opened the Melbourne season with Bizet’s Carmen.
The gypsy girl who loved to be free and loved many until she met Don José, which meeting changed both their lives.
Director Kohn Bell changed the setting to modern day Havana from the Seville of Bizet’s setting. Havana, as Bell says, has old Spanish buildings and the very popular music of the Habanera came from Havana.
Opera Australia produced a very Havana inspired stage set of the older Spanish buildings set in a city square giving the audience and players the real feel of the story.
Costuming was bright and colourful and even brought onto the stage at various scenes was a VW Kombi van and a truck instead of mules in the original storyline.
A large cast including the Opera Australia Chorus and the Children’s Chorus which included several gymnasts. All appeared with great projection and the gymnasts giving a great demonstration of their art.
The lead role, Carmen, was exquisitely and excellently performed by Rinat Shaham who is acclaimed as one of the worlds’s most acclaimed Carmens. Her Melbourne performance was outstanding and certainly proved her reputation.
Carmen’s latest love was the Corporal told to arrest her, Don José, given an outstanding performance by tenor Dmytro Popov. The duet between Shaham and Popov showed why they are considered some of the world’s best.
Don José’s fiancé, Micaȅla, girl form his village, was performed by Stacey Alleume, another soprano whose voice is a sheer delight to hear. A wonderful portrayal with the correct innocence for the role.
Escamillo the toreador was performed by Shane Lowrence.
A great performance with good stage presentation, a positive faultless baritone and thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.
An amazing evening of opera welcomed enthusiastically by the opening night Melbourne audience.
Melbourne Opera Company
Director &Choreographer: Robert Ray.
Conductors: Greg Hocking, Raymond Lawrence.
A story of the H.M.S. Pinafore’s Captain Corcoran who wishes his daughter to marry The Right Honourable Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, but of course his daughter Josephine has other ideas.
A well set stage of a ship’s deck and forecastle. A large energetic cast all with good voices adding to the standard of the evening.
David Gould was outstanding in the role of The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Porter. An amazing performance, great comic scenes and a good well balanced voice. A performer with good stage presence and had a good rapport with the other players.
Captain Corcoran was played by David Rogers-Smith. Another terrific portrayal by a magnificent tenor plus the positive stage presence and the upper class accent which did change later in the evening.
The Captain’s daughter, Josephine was wonderfully portrayed by Claire Lyon. Not only a lovely soprano but a great actor full of expression and her scenes with David Gould and David Rogers-Smith were a sheer delight. Her duet with Paul Biencourt was exquisite and her scenes with Biencourt added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Paul Biencourt was Ralph Rackstraw, the common sailor who fell in love with the captain’s daughter. Biencourt gave a stirling performance as such a character with a superb tenor and a great North England accent for most of the performance till a certain change in circumstances where he showed his ability as a top rate performer.
Andrea Creighton was the former nanny Buttercup who falls in love with Captain Corcoran. Another fine performer and a great character in the story. Creighton captured the essence of the role and kept the high standard set by the company.
The villain of the piece, Dick Deadeye was brilliantly captured by Roger Howell.
A difficult role as he played the bent over, one-eyed villain who could not keep up with his shipmates in the hornpipe and other moves across the stage. A good strong and clear baritone presenting well across the auditorium.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter was accompanied everywhere by his sisters, cousins and aunts and Cousin Hebe kept him under control. Cousin Hebe was played on opening night by Jodie Debono who also gave a wonderful performance with a good stage presence.
The choreography was excellent, well designed and extremely well executed by the cast which was not easy as there was a large cast and not a large stage to work on.
A great evening of theatre and a production that hasn’t seen the professional Melbourne stage in over 20 years.
Director: Suzann Chaundy
Conductor: Greg Hosking
Melbourne Opera’s choice for the Melbourne spring season was Donizitti’s Anna Bolena the story of Henry VIII’s wife Anna Boleyn.
A large chorus which did make the stage a little busy but the voices made up for any discrepancy onstage.
Simple sets quickly to move and yet giving the impression of the period. Costuming was superb set in the Tudor period and when HenryVIII he WAS Henry.
Anna Boleyn was given a wonderful performance by soprano Elena Xanthoudakis. An excellent stage appearance, god acting and a lovely voice which enhanced her arias and duets.
Bass Eddie Muliaumaseali was Henry VIII, An outstanding performance, wonderful stage presence and as aforementioned the costuming was such that one really thought that King Henry was actually on stage. A very good actor and a magnificent bass voice creating a good balance when singing with Elena Xanthoudakis and Sally Wilson.
Mezzo soprano Sally Wilson was Jane Seymour who Henry had his eye on. Wilson gave a great interpretation of such a character, a wonderful voice and great acting to enhance her performance. Other members of the cast lived up to the Melbourne audience expectations and with the talented chorus Melbourne had a great night of opera particularly this was the Australian Premiere of Ann Bolena.
Savoy Opera Company
Director: Stee Cordelia.
Music Director: David Campbell
Savoy Opera Company’s spring season’s choice was The Mikado. The story of a wandering minstrel who falls in love with the ward of the Lord High Executioner. But the wandering minstrel is not quite who he seems.
The set was well cone with a Japanese flavour of houses, village square with authentic looking backdrops. The costuming was superb with a couple of highlights, Yum-Yum’s wedding outfit and the Mikado’s outfit.
Lyndon Green was the wandering minstrel, Nanki Poo, who fell in love with Yum- Yum the ward of the Lord High Executioner who planned to marry her himself.
Green gave a stirling performance in the role both as an actor and singer. One memorable moment was the duet with Green and Chriselise de Graaf as Yum Yum.
A great rapport with each other and the duet was well balanced.
De Graaf carried the role of Yum-Yum with aplomb, good acting well enjoyed by all and a lovely voice. Both Green and de Graaf have great sense of the comique which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Richard Burman was Pooh Bah the Lord of everything. A great comic role supremely handled by Burman. An energetic role and one requiring the sense of good stagecraft which Burman showed the master touch.
Poo Bah’s offsider was Pish Tush played by Darcy Carroll. A good portrayal capturing the essence of such a character.
The other two little maids beside Yum-Yum were Pitti Sing played by Beth Paterson and Peep-Bo played by Sian Williams. Both young ladies gave great performances in the role adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
An elderly lady, Katisha, who was in love with Nanki-Poo and was determined to get him no matter what was played by Jennifer Wakefield. A stunning performance of the character with a good stage presence and another good voice.
The Lord High Executioner, Ko-Ko was given a stunning portrayal by Luke Belle. A great touch of the comique, a good voice, great stage projection and a wonderful performance.
A great night of entertainment and Savoy Opera sticks to the original Gilbert & Sullivan story without updates and is very enjoyable.
Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Conductor: David Kram
Melbourne Opera created a first by presenting Wagner’s epic Opera Tannhäuser in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
A three act production with Act 1 set in the cave of Venue and on the roadside.
Act 2 is in the Hall of Song and Act 3 seven months later on the road and a shrine.
Sets comprised of a raised stage utilised in all three acts. Added to this was projection which was very effective, in the first act, caves and waterfalls, Act 2 an interior of the Hall of Song which when the curtain opened brought a round of applause from the audience. Act 3 was the pilgrim road which had a ramp down form the top to the main stage with mountain scenery at stage rear. All sets were used to the full and added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Romanian tenor Marius Vlad gave a stirling performance as Tannhãuser with a good clear voice enhancing the evening. His beloved Princess Elisabeth’s character was exquisitely captured by Lee Abrahmsen who gave a stirling performance and not missing a beat.
Venus, the Goddess of Love, was portrayed by Sarah Sweeting who captured the goddess with aplomb. A delightful performance sang with a mature and well done alto.
Manfred Pohlenz was Wolfram von Eschinbach a Minnesinger. A major role in which Wolfram was a friend to Tannhãuser and brought Tannhãuser to see Elisabeth. Pohlenz, a strong baritone, never faltered in this role giving a great performance.
A packed house for the Regent Theatre’s first opera and Melbourne Opera is to be congratulated on such a production and the success of same.
Director: Gale Edwards.
The State Theatre was the venue for the Melbourne season of Opera Australia’s Autumn presentation.
Opening with Puccini’s La Bohėme Opera Australia is also celebrating its 60 years.
La Bohėme was originally set in Paris of the 1830s, a burgeoning time for students, artists and performers.
Director Gale Edwards decided that a parallel world might e Berlin of the late 1820s and 1930s when Berlin became the most attractive and decadent city in Europe attracting artists and Bohemians from around the world.
The result was the setting is in a Spiegeltent where the internal scenes are the tenement, Café Momus, inside a toll gate and an inn.
Rodolfo a poet was portrayed by Gianiuca Terranova with Lianna Haroutourian as Mimi.
Act I where Mimi comes to borrow a light and Rodolfo falls in love. An amazing arias and duets with Terranova giving an excellent rendition of Che gelda nanina followed by Haroutourian’s lovely presentation of Mi chiamano Mimi.
Their duet of O soave fanciulla was an absolute dream and well applauded by the opening night audience
Jane Ede as Musetta projects well with a delightful voice and good acting capturing such a role with a naturalness which added to the high standard of the evening.
A very emotional final scene with the main characters together bringing a tear to some members of the audience
. An outstanding evening of opera with great performances from all, including Opera Australia’s Children’s Chorus where future talent is sure to arise.
The Gondoliers or the King of Barataria
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera
Director: Adrian Glaubert
Musical Director: Timothy John Wilson
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera’s choice to open 201 was The Gondoliers or The King of Barataria.
The first act is set in Venice and as the story goes two gondoliers are choosing wives not realising that one was married at sic months and is the King of Barataria. The setting was a backdrop of Venice looking across the sea to Venice and foreground was a wharf where the two gondoliers arrived naturally by gondola.
They were welcomed by a bevy of local girls all wanting to marry them.
The two gondoliers wee played by Michael Dimovski as Marco Palmieri and Luke Belle as Giuseppe Palmieri.
Dimovski projected well with a good strong voice and a steady actor. Belle was amazing, caught all the finer nuances of such a character throwing himself into the role adding a touch of humour and aided by a good strong voice.
The Duke of Plaza Toro and his entourage enters, the entourage consisting of the Duchess, their daughter and the servant Luiz who was also a drummer who beat on the drum at every possible moment sometimes to the despair of the Duke.
The Duke was played by Renn Wortley who gave an even performance and worked well with Jennifer Wakefield as the Duchess. Wakefield was very good portraying the dominating wife and mother. A lovely voice to set of her performance.
The daughter Casilda was played by Kimberley Coleman giving a good performance and working well with Izaak Lea.
Lea was the servant Luiz, good projection, an amazing drummer and a pleasant voice with a performance suiting the role as envisaged.
The two wives of the gondoliers were Kristen Ryan as Gianetta and Erin Towns as Tessa. Both presented well, good clear voices and good stagecraft.
Act II was in the palace of Barataria where the two kings were doing al the work while their servants lolled around. In came the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Don Alhambra who is disgusted at what he sees. Playing Don Alhambra was Phil Elphinstone. A good comical performance done with a lot of energy and enjoyed by the audience.
The choreography was well cone, timing spot on and not do often seen in G & S works plenty of dancing. There were four dancers, three girls and one boy adding excellently to the evening’s entertainment. A well balanced musical evening and overall a very pleasant night thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The Yeomen of the Guard
Savoy Opera Company
Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh.
Savoy Opera Company chose The Yeoman of the Guard for the 2015 spring season.
A story of Colonel Fairfax, soldier and alchemist, is confined to the Tower under sentence of death for sorcery. The charge has been falsely engineered by his cousin, who will inherit Fairfax’s estate should he die unmarried.
The story is about what happens and is he saved?
Savoy Opera Company has a magnificent backdrop of the Tower of London of the period of the story. The costuming is amazing, one would swear that the Beefeaters were the real men the costuming was so authentic looking.
Isaac Esler was Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant of the Tower). Esler caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance in the role.
Colonel Fairfax the prisoner was given an outstanding performance by James Christensen. As well as being a good actor Christensen has a great voice eminently suited for the character.
Barry Fry was Sergeant Meryll (of the Yeomen of the Guard) A good stage projection with a high standard of performing such a role.
Sergeant Meryll’s son, Leonard Meryll was played by Lyndon Green. A small role but essential to the play. Green handled his role with aplomb giving a good performance.
Luke Bell had the unenviable role of the strolling player, Jack Point, in love with his protégée who was in love with someone else. Bell gave a wonderful portrayal of the player for whom things did not go at all as he expected and hoped capturing the finer nuances of the man in love which was not reciprocated.
Geoff Carson had the role of Wilfred Shadbolt ( Head Jailor and Assistant Tormentor) Carson stood out with his portrayal of such an unseemly character who took a delight in telling of his position of Assistant Tormentor.
The innocent heroine Elsie Maynard (a Strolling Singer and Jack Point’s protégée) was given a wonderful performance by Corryn Rattray, who added to the high standard and delight of the evening.
Another entertaining and wonderful performance was given by Carmen Carnovale as Phoebe Meryll (Sergeant Meryll’s daughter). Her scenes with Geoff Carson as Wilfred Shadbolt were an absolute delight. Carnovale is not only a good performer with a wonderful voice she also has a great sense of the comique as required for this role.
Another amusing and good performance was given by Lydia Klenek as Dame Carruthers ( Housekeeper of the Tower)
A very successful evening of a classic Gilbert & Sullivan with the Savoy Opera company being one of the few companies who do not mike their artists and thus one hears the true voices instead of the engineered voices which can distort the high notes and ruin the overall effect.
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Frank McCarty
Musical Director: Greg Hannan
GSOV moved across to Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre for the spring season and presented Patience.
A pleasant evening of Gilbert & Sullivan enjoyed by the Darebin audience
A satire of the aesthetic movement of the time with the poets enjoying the attention of the ladies but do they really?
A simply set stage with a backdrop and a raised stage at rear. Opening saw the twenty lovesick maidens singing about the latest poet Reginald Bunthorne. Ron Pidcock was Bunthorne giving a good interpretation of such a character. Pidcock had the various graceful moves down flat giving an amusing and comic performance.
His rival poet, Archibald Grosvenor was given a great comic performance by Andrew Blair who not only caught the aestheticism of the poet but when changed to a normal working man one thought it was two different actors.
The Lady Jane was given a good and amusing performance by Andrea Toppe.
Sabrina Surace caught the correct feel for the simple milkmaid Patience who loved Archibald Grosvenor but because he was perfect she could not be selfish and keep him for herself. A lovely performance and a good pleasant voice.
The ensemble work carried well and the Dragoons were a picture particularly when they found their fiancées were in love with the poets and not them.
Conductor: Anthony Legge
Director: David McVicar
Opera Australia’s second choice for the Melbourne Autumn season was Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
David McVicar set the production at the end of the enlightenment age; it’s a dark world where class distinctions are very important. The set was magnificent, large archways on each side of the stage with a large decorated roof which doubled as a stairway from upper levels. The set was rather dark giving a Gothic feel to the performance and unfortunately to the audience sitting toward the middle and rear of the auditorium made it a little hard to see the performer’s expressions.
Don Giovanni was performed by Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Rhodes has a good stage presence, great acting skills and a voice which challenged the expectation of the role with ease.
Donna Anna, who was betrothed to Don Ottavio and in the opening scene, was trying to avoid Don Giovanni’s attention. As Donna Anna Emma Matthews gave a wonderful portrayal and handled the aria Or sai chi l’onore with aplomb which was enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant was given an amusing and good performance by Shane Lowrencev. Lowrencev excelled in the scene of declaring his master’s catalogue of conquests across Europe.
The Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father was killed in a duel with Don Giovanni, was played by Jud Arthur. A small but essential role particularly in the last scene where he returns from the grave. Arthur gave an imposing performance added to by a great voice. Donna Elvira a lady abandoned by Don Giovanni and spent her time trying to get her revenge and helping other victims of Don Giovanni. She was performed by Jane Ede who gave a stirling performance of the role.
Zerlina, a peasant girl who Don Giovanni tried to seduce on the eve of her wedding was performed by Taryn Fieberg. Fieberg’s interpretation of Zerlina was excellent and her arias were enjoyed by the audience.
Her husband to be Masetto was performed by Richard Anderson who projects well and gave a good portrayal of such a character.
A good evening from Opera Australia adding to the high standard expected of the Company.
Director: Moffat Oxenbould
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire
Opera Australia’s choice to open the Melbourne 2015 season was Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
A well set stage giving the correct feel of a Japanese house with sliding doors and a moat around it with two bridges across giving entry to each side of the stage.
Set in Nagasaki the story tells of the love between Cio Cio San and Lt. Pinkerton an American sailor. Goro a marriage broker has rented a house for Pinkerton and arranged a marriage between Cio Cio San also known as Madama Butterfly and Pinkerton.
Hiromi Omura really captured the essence of Madama Butterfly with not only a wonderful voice as evinced with her duet Viene la sera with James Egglestone (Pinkerton) and the moving Sai cos’ ebbe cuore but with her acting of such a role.
James Egglestone was the perfect Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. He was going through the ceremony but told the American Consul that he planned to marry an American girl in the future. A great performance with a matching superb voice and the capturing of such a terrible character caused the audience at the close of the evening to boo him outrageously.
Your correspondent was told that this was held by the cast as being a successful evening as Egglestone really captured such a rotten character.
Madama Butterfly’s maid Suzuki was played by Sian Pendry. Another wonderful performance and particularly moving where she supports Butterfly when the dreaded news is broken.
The American Consul Sharpless who was understanding of Butterfly’s marriage and resulting shock and disappointment and trying to persuade Pinkerton not to rush into such an alliance was excellently played by Michael Honeyman. Honeyman captured the feel of the character and his delivery of Tutto ė pronto was a sheer delight.
Two dramatic moments were when Butterfly’s uncle the Bonze arrives and renounces her from her family and when a new suitor Yanadori arrives. A great spectacle adding to the high standard of the evening
A good opening for the Melbourne season from Opera Australia.
The Flying Dutchman
Artistic Director & Conductor: Richard Mills
Director: Roger Hodgman
A new beginning for the future of theatre was created by Victorian Opera and Deakin Motion. Lab.
Victorian Opera presented Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at Melbourne’s iconic theatre the Palais. The new beginning being the rear of the stage and both sides were film screens where 3D films took place. Each member of the audience received 3D glasses to view what was an amazing effect.
The story is of a Dutch captain cursed to sail the seas of the world until judgement day unless he can persuade a young lady to fall in love with him.
Set off a Norwegian fjord we see two life size sailing ships sailing through storms and tying up in the fjord. The 3D effects were absolutely amazing the audience is on one ship when the ghostly red sailed Flying Dutchman appears and nearly strikes the other ship. They then sail together to sit out the storm.
Another scene was on board ship where the cameras took you between decks really giving the impression the cast was really on board.
This will bring theatre into the future today.
The Palais Theatre has practically perfect acoustics and the opera singers love performing there.
For this production the Palais Theatre removed four rows from the front to allow space for the remarkable and talented Australian Youth Orchestra. An excellent choice of orchestra which played exquisitely and did accompany the singers instead of what happens too frequently, drowning them out.
Opening sees Daland the Norwegian captain settling his ship and meeting with the Dutchman. Daland was played by Warwick Fyfe, a strong bass, a good actor giving a fine performance singing with great clarity and enunciation.
Oksar Hillebrandt was the Dutchman. A great stage personality a strong clear baritone
We hear his voice across the orchestra which magnificently portrays the storm with Oskar’s voice balancing to perfection. Lori Phillips was Senta, the daughter of Daland and a young lady whose story of The Flying Dutchman has made a deep impression and she is resolved to aid him in his quest from his curse.
Lori caught the character as envisaged added to by a wonderful voice which was enhanced by her duet with Hillebrandt.
Senta’s nurse was Mary sung and performed by Liane Keegan. Another great performance. Liane has good stage appearance with a magnificent contralto to match. An enjoyable performance both to see and hear.
The huntsman, Erik, who loved Senta, was performed by Bradley Daley. Erik could not understand Senta’s infatuation for the Dutchman and Bradley caught the essence of such a character with complete naturalness. A good tenor who projected well and balanced his role well with Lori Phillips.
A good strong chorus of both the men and women producing a very successful evening of opera in Melbourne.
Director: Simon Phillips.
Conductor: Christian Badea
For Opera Australia’s final Melbourne season for 2014 the choice was Giuseppe Verde’s Falstaff. Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, a light-hearted plot about Sir John Falstaff who still considers himself irresistible to women even though he is rather overweight and not quite as young as he used to be.
He sends letters off to four ladies to arrange a rendezvous but the ladies compare letters and decide to teach Falstaff a lesson.
An amazing set opening in the tavern then quickly changing to the market place and buildings at rear of same. Both sets of buildings are two storied and the cast move swiftly up and down various stairways smoothly with the odd bit of congestion.
Warwick Fyfe was Falstaff, completely unrecognisable in the Falstaff dress until he sang the voice of Warwick cannot be mistaken and in this role not only was Warwick’s superb so was his characterisation of the role. A light touch was given by Falstaff’s followers, Bardolph and Pistol, played by Kanen Breen and Jud Arthur. Both captured the comique of such associates giving good performances adding to the comedy of the evening.
The ladies were Mrs Meg Page played by Jacqueline Dark, Mrs Alice Ford played by Jane Ede, Mistress Quickly played by Dominica Matthews and Nannetta played by Taryn Fieberg.
All ladies gave great interpretations of their roles and the way they treated poor Falstaff was a picture.
Good performances were given by Graeme Macfarlane as Dr Caius who wanted to marry Nannetta (far too young for him) and Michael Honeyman as Ford, Alice’s husband.
Fenton, Nannetta’s lover was given a great performance by Jonathon Abernethy.
One scene that stands out was in the forest where the cast are dressed as fairies, goblins and witches. The cast deserve high praise for this scene as they performed the whole scene on their knees.
A wonderful evening from Opera Au8stralia to finish the Melbourne 2014 season.
Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire
Opera Australia’s second opera of the Melbourne Spring season was Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
An entertaining evening and a good opera to introduce newcomers to opera.
A light-hearted Italian comic opera bought into the 1950’s by Director Roger Hodgman.
The stage was set as a town square showing the front of a restaurant and houses plus a fountain. Complete with the local townspeople riding bikes, a Vespa, two mafia types sitting at the outdoor café and where the various main characters make their entrance.
The stage had three revolves which turned the set around to form the interior of Don Pasquale’s home. A remarkable piece of stagecraft.
The story is about Don Pasquale, an older man who to spite his nephew wants to marry and have a son to leave his fortune to. But of course nothing ever goes to plan and gives the audience a lot of fun from a wonderful high standard cast.
Don Pasquale was given a wonderful performance by Conal Coad. A great actor and a fine Bass whose voice did not falter. One memorable scene was when Don Pasquale donned a wig to impress his new bride. The things that happened were a sheer delight.
His new bride to be, who happened to be in love with Don’s nephew was Norina played by Rachelle Durkin.
Durkin was ideal for the role, she has an impish manner and a good rapport both with Coad and John Longmuir. A good touch of the comique balanced by a fine soprano with a good clear enunciation.
John Longmuir was Ernesto, Don Pasquale’s nephew who was ordered out of the house. Longmuir carried the character with finesse added to by a good pleasing tenor voice living up to the high standard set by his felloe artists.
Don Pasquale’s friend (and friend to Ernesto) was Dr Malatesta played by Samuel Dundas. Dundas has a good stage presence added to by a clear baritone which did not falter throughout the evening. His performance was a delight being well balanced between Don Pasquale and Ernesto with Don Pasquale not knowing what was going on between Ernesto, Norina and Dr Malatesta.
Director: John Bell
Conductor Andrea Molina
Opera Australia’s selection to open the Melbourne Spring season was Puccini’s Tosca.
The director was John Bell who reset the story from the Napoleonic Wars to 1943 when Italy was an ally of Germany. As John says this makes it more relevant and audiences can relate to the story.
Opening scene brought gasps from the audience with the opulence of the interior of the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. An amazing piece of work by Opera Australia’s design and construction team. This was enhanced by the sets of scene two and three.
The change to 1943 by John Bell did not make any difference to the original story but bringing it into living history gave the feel of realism to the story.
Steven Gallop was the escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti who hid in the Attavanati Chapel. A good portrayal added to by a wonderful voice
Diego Torre was Mario Cavaradossi the artist and lover of Floria Tosca. Torre presented well and the duet Qual’occhio between Cavaradossi and Martins Serafin (Tosca) delighted the audience.
Claudio Sgura gave a stirling performance as the evil Baron Scarpia His stage presence is excellent and he really caught the evil of such a character.
The Te Deum scene had the full procession of priests, children’s choir and the public. A wonderful setting and the children’s choir certainly showed the upcoming stars of the future or opera.
Dramatic scenes in Act II where Scarpia demands that Tosca tells the whereabouts of Cavaradossi and Angelotti. This scene was excellently portrayed and the scenes between Torre and Serafin and Serafin and Sgura were a sheer delight all of course enhanced by the high standard of voice by the three.
This is where we hear the wonderful Vissi d’arte sung exquisitely by Martina Serafin.
Act III was changed from the original with scenes of the Jews rising from their sleep and being moved through a door to now we know where. This is where Mario Cavaradossi is told by Tosca that the firing squad has been fixed and he would survive.
The scene is set in a prison yard with high walls surmounted by barb wire unlike the castle battle mounts of Puccini’s original story. Tosca realises that Scarpia has gone back on his word and Cavaradossi is executed. The finale has the same ending but done differently but fits in with John Bell’s concept.
A successful production and well appreciated by the audience.
Director: Stee Cordelia
Musical Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh
Savoy Opera’s choice of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta to close the 2014 season was Ruddigore or The Witch’s Curse
The curse laid on the Murgatroyd family by a witch is that the inheritor of the title Baronet must do a crime a day or die a horrible agonising death.
The present baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd faked his own death and hid out in a small village under the name of Robin Oakapple thus his younger brother inherited the title and the curse.
Savoy Opera presented a great set of a village square with houses each side and an amazing backdrop of a seascape and a huge lighthouse in the foreground. The costuming was brilliant suiting the period with aplomb.
The scene opens with a chorus of out of work bridesmaids singing about Rode Maybud, a young beautiful village maiden who changes fiancés at a drop of a hat.
Opening night saw Corryn Rattray as Rose Maybud and Zorah. A light lyric soprano whose voice projected beautifully and a wonderful actor in these roles.
The man she fell in love with was the farmer Robin Oakapple who unbeknownst to her was in reality Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd. Daniel Carison played parts and the program proudly announced that Daniel has just won the prestigious 2014 Royal Philharmonic Aria award. Daniel, only 21 year old bass baritone impressed the sold-out audience and won over the judges; bench.
So the Savoy Opera audience were privileged to see and hear such a talented young man playing the lead. His voice was up to the expectations of such an award winner and his acting also was up to the standard of his singing.
Robin Oakapple’s foster brother Richard Dauntless was performed by Stephen Carolane. Richard had just returned from years at sea and the pair was thrilled to be together. Stephen, besides having a good tenor voice and a fine actor surprised the audience with his interpretation of the Sailor’s Hornpipe. An energetic number and very well executed.
Robin’s younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, who inherited the title under false pretences, was played by Phil Elphinstone. A good stage presentation together with a strong clear voice adding to the standard of the evening.
Rebecca Attwood-Frew was Mad Margaret the wife of Sir Despard Murgatroyd. A good projection of a mad woman who does recover albeit not quite altogether.
Rose Maybud’s aunt Dame Hannah was played by Lydia Klimek. An amazing portrayal not only a good voice, clear and strong, but a great actor and the scene where she was kidnapped by Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant Adam nearly brought the housed down.
Richard Burman was Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant old Adam Goodheart. Richard is a talented performer which was evident in his portrayal of such a character.
A well directed smooth running performance by the company with no weak spots and was greatly enjoyed by the audience.
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: David Lawson-Smith
Musical Director: John Ferguson
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria has taken HMS Pinafore from the 19th century to the 23rd century and renamed it to USS Pinafore.
Opening announcements re turning off mobile phones etc were done in the voice of a Dalek naturally if not obeyed would be EXTERMINATED.
This set the scene for an entertaining evening. At this point your correspondent must admit he is a Sci Fi fan from way back so thoroughly enjoyed the concept.
The stage was set as the bridge of the USS Enterprise although in this story it is the USS Pinafore. Centre was the captain’s chair and each side were the navigator and radio operator. Above the navigator and radio ops were two TV screens which not only showed the arrival of the admiral but also showed the words of each song. The words were updated to suit the new 23rd century version and was very successful.
Instead of the captain’s daughter Josephine falling in love with a lowly sailor she falls in love with a Vulcan Mr Rack.
Just to add to the similarity between Star Trek and Pinafore the captain’s name is now Captain Kirkoran.
The play revolves around the Star Trek story with dashes of Star Wars thrown in.
Admiral Joseph Porter leaves the satellite Deep Space 9 which is shown in the background and followers of Star Wars would recognise it as the Death Star.
The basic story is the same with the updated libretto sung to the original music.
Andrew McGrail was Captain Kirkoran giving a good performance with an excellent voice adding to his high standard portrayal.
Admiral Joseph Porter, he with many sisters, cousins and aunts, was given a stirling performance by Angus Grant. Jonathon Rumsam was Dick Deadeye. Rumsam caught the essence of the character projecting well and was appreciated by the audience.
Mr Rack including Vulcan ears was played by Adrian Glaubert who captured the pedantic character with professionalism.
Cousin Hebe was given a good performance by Phoebe Deklerk Another good portrayal and Deklerk has a fine stage appearance and handled the role with finesse.
Our heroine Josephine was performed by Josephine Grech. Grech has an outstanding voice as well as a high acting standard. She handled her role with aplomb giving the right feel expected of Josephine caught between her father’s wishes and her own feelings for an alien.
Little Buttercup was still the same the bumboat lady selling delights to the crew. Anna Castle was Little Buttercup giving a fine characterisation of the role with a pleasant voice to match.
An interesting concept taking Pinafore into the 23rd century where the costuming was from Star Trek and the crew contained several aliens from different coloured human types and then a Vulcan, a cat person and an angel.
All in all an interesting concept and enjoyed by the audience.
At the end of the performance the orchestra played on and the entire audience stayed on to watch the orchestra as it rose from the pit to stage level and gave a brief summary of the show. A very enjoyable completion to a good night of entertainment.
Savoy Opera Co.
Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell.
Guest Conductor: David Singh
A story of a fictional South Pacific island of Utopia where the King Paramount has sent his eldest daughter Princess Zara to an English college with the hopes that on return she will help civilize his people.
When Gilbert & Sullivan wrote this operetta Princess Kaiulani of the independent monarchy of Hawaii attended a private school in England.
Also two decades earlier Anna Loenowens wrote her book about her six-year stint ad governess to the children to the King of Siam.
This was obvious and the setting in Act One was certainly modelled on Hawaii plus the ladies of the island wore muumuus and the men lap laps.
In Act 2 the setting was changed to an English style drawing room and the cast were dressed in the English fashion which the island ladies were very uncomfortable.’
The settings and costuming was amazing and excellently done.
The performers lived up the standard set with 18 main stars and a large chorus.
King Paramount the first was given a great and comical performance by Andrew Long.
His Wise Men, Scaphio and Phantis were played by Geoff Carison and Mathew Cookson. A great comic pair with good stage presentation and acted the role of the evil types with aplomb. Their voices added to the high standard of the evening.
The eldest daughter of the King is Princess Zara who was sent to England for her education. She returned with six advisers to change the islanders from their easy going life to the English style of living.
Princess Zara was given a wonderful and expert performance by Catherine Bolzonello
Catherine has a superb stage presence, a delightful voice and a great actor.
The Lady Sophy the princess’s English governess was portrayed by Lydia Klimek.
A good interpretation of the character and Lydia captured the role as envisaged.
A high standard production by Savoy Opera Company well appreciated by the opening night audience.
The Turk in Italy
Director: Simon Phillips
Conductor: Anthony Legge.
Opera Australia’s 3rd Melbourne production was the delightful The Turk in Italy.
A wonderful evening of fun and opera well directed and performed by all
If you have a friend who thinks opera is to heavy and only for the pure opera lovers this is the opera to introduce such friends to the art.
A light-hearted romp by Rossini about the poet Prosdocimo who is trying to find a plot for a farce he is writing. Prosdocimo is portrayed by Samuel Dundas who as the writer acts as narrator for the evening. Good stage projection with a clear and good baritone adding to the high standard of the evening.
Opera Australia and Simon Phillips changed the setting to the 50’s and what a great job it is. On audience right was a round two story bar with residence above set on two revolves one inner and one outer.
Audience left was the gypsy camp and beach scenes. Opening scene was the male chorus coming in with deck chairs and the female chorus entering in 50’s bathing costumes and after a small struggle to set up the chairs the ladies sat.
The story is based on Fiorella although married to an older man, Geronio, had a lover Narciso but heard about Selim the Turk coming to town set her cap for him.
Soprano Emma Matthews was Fiorella, who met the vocal challenges of the role with ease and her acting was perfect for such a character.
Geronio, who was the older man and her husband, was played by bass Andrew Moran. Perfectly cast as the cuckolded husband Moran was enjoyed by the audience in the role.
Selim’s former slave who still loves was Zaida played and sung by mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley. A delightful performance with a wonderful voice and Anna suited the character.
Tenor John Longmuir was Fiorilla’s lover Narciso who was very upset about Fiorilla’s attraction for Selim the Turk. Another great performance.
The one performer who in this correspondent’s opinion stole the show was Shane Lawrencev as Selim the Turk. An amazing performance of comedy, superb stage craft, great projection and a bass that was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Renato Palumbo
Opera Australia opened its 2014 Melbourne season with Verdi’s Rigoletto.
A well set stage opening with the Duke’s palace where the Duke of Mantua is describing his latest love. The Duke was played by Gianluca Terranova, an outstanding performance both as an actor and of course a singer. His magnificent voice dazzled the Tuesday night audience and enhanced the evening.
Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester, was portrayed by Warwick Fyfe who has a good stage presence and captured the cruelty of the jester and the strictness but kindness to his daughter with aplomb. He also added to the delight of the audience with control and beauty of his voice.
Gilda, the Jester’s daughter was played by Irina Dubrovskaya who captured the essence of the young innocent and protected girl who fell in love with the Duke.
A good performance and Dubrovskaya has a good rapport with Fyfe.
The production was excellent with a high standard of performance from the cast and orchestra.
A great start to the 2014 Melbourne season.
The Grand Duke
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Richard Burman
Musical Director: John Ferguson.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria opened the 2013 season with an opera only previously done twice in Victoria.
The Grand Duke or The Statutory Duel. A story of a theatrical touring group whose comedian challenges the Grand Duke to a statutory duel and wins. This win gives him the title of Grand Duke and all the Duke’s responsibilities including three wives.
The company presented a well set stage of the market square of Speisesaal and the Hall of The Grand Duke Palace. The costumes added to the evening all leading to a great evening of entertainment.
A very smooth flowing performance with the artists keeping good timing and movements.
Peter Hanway was Rudolph, Grand Duke of Pfennig Halbpfennig A good performance with a strong clear voice adding to the high standard of the production. Ludwig, the leading comedian who after winning the statutory duel became the Grand Duke was played by Paul Tooby. A stunning performance showing good comedy particularly with the marriage scenes and a good voice to match.
Andrew McGrail was Dr Tannhäuser, a notary. McGrail projects well, a good strong clear voice both in speaking and singing and was enjoyed by the audience.
Lydia Kovesi was Julia Jellicoe, an English comedian with the theatre company and as the leading lady was to become the Grand Duchess. A wonderful portrayal, good acting and a lovely voice.
Overall the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria gave a wonderful evening of entertainment and a chance to see a little known and not often seen the last collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Ron Pidcock
GSOV presented Princess Ida for the October season. Unlike Gilbert’s other works Princess Ida is based on the work of another author, Tennyson’s The Princess.
Inspired by the emotive power of the story Gilbert made two stage adaptations of the poem. The second was Princess Ida in 1894 at the height of the Savoy Opera success.
The opening scene was the Pavilion in King Hildebrand’s Palace. Simple set with a beautiful backdrop of a road, river, mountains, valley and castle in the distance.
This is where we meet King Hildebrand and King Gama. King Hildebrand was played by Renn Wortley a stirling performance, Wortley had the correct Royal stance required by such a character with an imposing stage appearance and only exceeded by the voice which typified his stance.
King Gama, only happy when he had something to grumble about, a man stooped and going off at everyone he met was given a masterful performance by Richard Burman who excels in these roles and this performance certainly saw why. Added to the performance his voice and diction was clear and well sung.
Hilarion the Prince who was affianced to King Gama’s daughter Princess Ida was played by Adrian Glaubert. A good stage appearance, excellent voice and fine acting ability with a good rapport Lydia Kovesi. Kovesi gave a superb performance in the role with just the right mannerisms for a feminist particular in the period the story is set. Her stage presence was excellent, voice a sheer delight and acting wonderful.
Lady Blanche, the 2IC of Castle Adamant, the ladies’ University, was a good 2IC who had a secret desire to rule the university which was put to good advantage in the story. As Lady Blanche, Jennifer Wakefield captured the essence of such a character and added to the high standard of the production.
Comic relief was given by Princess Ida’s brothers. Arav, Guron and Scynthius. Played by Lucas Wilson, Paul Tooby and Andrew Blair. They came out dressed in armour and singing how they would manage the affair without modern education but ad military men. A fine performance from the three.
Prince Hilarion’s friends Cyril and Florian were played by Charles Cornwallis and Darcy Cornwallis. Another high standard performance. Lady Psyche, one of the lecturers, is amazed when confronting the new “lady” students to find that Florian is her brother. She keeps the secret and Elyse McDonald in the role gives a great portrayal and projects well.
n interesting and very high standard evening of G&S and a production not to be missed