Posts Tagged ‘Opera Australia’
If you had ANY doubts about attending the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour LA TRAVIATA, I think these pictures will soon change your mind. With one last last dress rehearsal tonight, the opera opens tomorrow night.
After months of rain, the skies have cleared and sunny days and balmy nights are promised for the coming week at least.
One of the Opera Insider team is attending the final dress rehearsal tonight, but reporting on this is useless – it’s just going to be magnificent and awe-inspiring.
As you can see the production looks absolutely fantastic, so if you were planning on being a couch potato, or didn’t think it would be worth the trip to Sydney – think again, get on the net or phone and order your ticket now !
Quick, book your tickets and a jet if you are interstate. Tickets may be booked on line at:
For opera fans both new, old and inquisitive who are going and are still unsure of the details for travel and catering check out the following link:
The 2011 Green Room Awards, for excellence on the Melbourne stage for the period January 1st through to 31st December 2011, were announced at a ceremony this afternoon, Sunday 18th March, 2012, at The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne.
The winners in the opera category are as follows:
Direction: Bruce Beresford, Of Mice and Men (Opera Australia)
Production: Of Mice and Men (Opera Australia)
Conductor: Tom Woods, Of Mice and Men (Opera Australia)
Principal Male: Anthony Dean Griffey (Lennie Small), Of Mice and Men (Opera Australia)
Principal Female: Jacqueline Dark (Donna Elvira), Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
Supporting Male: Bradley Daley (Curley), Of Mice and Men (Opera Australia)
Supporting Female: Suzanne Johnston (Mrs Herring), Albert Herring (Victorian Opera)
Certificate Award (not in the program/not a trophy):
Ongoing Standard of Excellence: Orchestra Victoria
The Victorian Opera also featured in the ballet category with the following awards:
Betty Pounder Award for Choreography: Gideon Obarzanek, Assembly (Chunky Move / Victorian Opera, presented by Melbourne Festival in association with Sydney Festival & Brisbane Festival)
Sound and Music Composition and/or Performance: TIE BETWEEN:
Cast of Assembly (Live Performance), Assembly (Chunky Move / Victorian Opera presented by Melbourne Festival in association with Sydney Festival & Brisbane Festival)
Soloists and Victorian Opera Chorus & Orchestra Victoria (Live Performance), Requiem (The Australian Ballet)
A very big congratulations to Bruce Beresford (roll on DIE TOTE STADT), the amazing Anthony Dean Griffey ( the master of the role of Lennie Small, one of the great tenors of the World who valiantly continued his contractual obligations magnificently amidst some despicable treatment by some administrators), Tom Woods (a consistently excellent conductor particularly of new and modern works), Jacqueline Dark (always excels, but her Donna Elvira was an absolute joy both dramatically and vocally), Brad Daley (fitted the production like a glove, and with a bold dramatic, voice that I hope we hear more of in the very near future), Suzanne Johnston (another masterful role in a long line of excellence), Opera Australia and Victorian Opera. I couldn’t agree more with the decisions.
And a very BIG bravo to Orchestra Victoria for the recognition of their ‘Ongoing Standard of Excellence”. Formed in 1969, they are the superb pit orchestra for the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia in Melbourne and more recently Victorian Opera. Over the last 2 years they have been racked by financial problems, the target of reviews, reduction in player numbers, and have recently re-invented themselves with a new marketing strategy. Despite all this, the excellence of their playing has only continued to grow and improve. Well done !
Last evening at the performance of Opera Australia’s COSI FAN TUTTE, audience members were able to see the ongoing preparations for the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
The stage, audience stands, and set are all now installed. Only the fitting out of the restaurants and bars remains to be completed. As dusk set, the stage lights were lit, as well as the gigantic chandelier that is the focal point of the set. I have to say that the impression of the chandelier viewed from the Opera House is truly AMAZING, sparkling and shimmering in the evening dark.
During the intermission the set was still in the process of being lit and a rehearsal was in progress, the chandelier was now green and the COSI audience was incidentally treated to a demonstration of the fireworks to be used during performances. The fireworks, while not as grand as New Year’s Eve in Sydney, are still a show stopper for a Parisian party updated to the 1950′s.
If you haven’t bought your tickets to this show yet – buy one as soon as you can. Once the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has opened and the word is out, I predict you won’t be able to beg, borrow or steal a ticket !
Tickets for the opera and dinner packages can be purchased on line from the Opera Australia website:
Interstate and overseas visitors may still be able to book weekend packages from Renaissance Tours:
The Opera Australia 2013 Melbourne DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN Ring Leaders are expected to pay for their tickets within the next 2 weeks. No additional information on casting has been provided by Opera Australia – so here is the current casting released thus far:
Wotan Juha Uusitalo
Brunhilde Susan Bullock
Siegfried Gary Lehman
Siegmund Stuart Skelton
Sieglinde Miriam Gordon-Stewart
Alberich John Wegner
Hagan Daniel Sumegi
Fasolt Daniel Sumegi
Loge Richard Berkeley-Steele
Erda Deborah Humble
Waltraute Deborah Humble
Check back on this page as additional casting will be added as it becomes available.
As can be seen below, large scale construction work is proceeding at a rapid rate at Lady Macquarie’s Point in Sydney for the inaugural Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.
The photographs taken today, Saturday 10th March, reveal a large construction team hard at work on a thankfully bright sunny day after weeks of drenching rain and floods.
The stage can clearly be seen being prepared and sitting above the area for the enclosed orchestra and cast waiting rooms, and to the right of the top pictures – the structure for the Platinum Lounge and Northern Cantina.
The bottom picture glimpses the stage and shows the Platinum Lounge structure more clearly. Work on the stand to seat the audience of 3,000 is not seen and is in preparatory stages only at this time.
THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO
Opera in 2 Acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Performance by Opera Australia on Saturday, 18th February 2012 in the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.
Conductor Simon Hewitt
Director Benedict Andrews
Scenery Designer Ralph Myers
Costume Designer Alice Babidge
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Choreography Lucy Guerin
Assistant Conductor Anthony Legge
Assistant Director Tama Matheson
Susanna Taryn Fiebig
Figaro Joshua Bloom
Marcellina Jacqueline Dark
Dr Bartolo Conal Coad
Cherubino Dominica Matthews
Count Almaviva Michael Lewis
Don Basilio Kanen Breen
Countess Almaviva Elvira Fatykhova
Antonio Clifford Plumpton
Don Curzio Graeme Macfarlane
Barbarina Jessica Dean
Bridesmaid Sharon Olde
Bridesmaid Vanessa Lewis
I must admit considerable worries and trepidation when Opera Australia announced a few years ago, a new, updated production by Benedict Andrews to be set in a modern day, gated community. Oh, here we go again I thought, thinking back to the disastrous Tim Albery production and the surprisingly flawed Neil Armfield production in recent years. Fortunately - or unfortunately the sublime John Copley production that I grew up with still haunts my subconscious. Without a doubt the Copley production was one of the best, if not the best production ever staged by the National company. High praise indeed, and I am sure I am not the only one to think this.
The feeling was similar to going to see the replacement LA BOHEME for the much loved Tom Lingwood designed production dating from 1970, that had been treasured and loved for over 20 years. How could they ! What – a new BOHEME to be directed by an unheard of team straight out of NIDA ? The anger oozed from my pores entering the Opera Theatre that night – to be transformed to gulping tears at the end of the first act in the new Baz Luhrman BOHEME. So it was to be with this MARRIAGE OF FIGARO – the fear and trepidation of some regietheatre miss-mash made way for admiration, love, laughs and tears in this fantastic new production.
Andrews partners in theatre magic were his designers, Ralph Myers and Alice Babidge. The sets consisted of a series of blank white rooms of normal ceiling height, using less than half the proscenium height, and with minimal furnishings. This focused attention clearly on the action and characters. Side walls slid sideways across the stage from right to left revealing each new room – a delicious device I have not seen before. During the overture, a not inconsiderable number of house maids arrived in street wear and proceeded to chat, undress and get into their uniforms a delightful egg shell blue.
Figaro is dressed in the same security guard uniform as the other guards who man the doors to the rooms, the Count in dark suit with crisp, white shirt, Rosina Bartolo and Basilio in casual dress. Bartolo hilariously enters pushing a wheeled walker fitted with an oxygen tank and wearing an oxygen mask from which he gasps air during his aria ‘La vendetta’ ! Cherubino hides in a cleaning trolley rather than behind a chair, and the Count hides by diving into a Whirlpool washing machine ! The second act revealed a stunning white bedroom for the Countess with a picture window with sheer, white curtains consuming the entire back wall and a view inside the nefarious closet and an anteroom on each side of the stage. The Countess was gowned in an exquisite white dress. The Count returned at the end of the second act in hunting gear and attendants dragged in a full deer body with which Basilio ‘wrestled’ during the finale. All fantastically funny stuff.But the pathos and tender moments were there too. Act three was set in the ubiquitous white room – clearly a function room with dressed tables, champagne flutes and balloons on the tables ready for the wedding reception. The final act set in the garden consisted of a bare stage raining large, multi coloured confetti during the entire act representing the storm – a homage to the Benedict trademark signature.
Benedict produced a lively romp thoroughly faithful to the libretto and the intentions of da Ponte and Mozart. All the gags, tender moments, moments of introspection and pathos were all there and fitted so easily into this modern take of this masterpiece. Some comments have been made by audience members concerning the flagrant allusions to sex in the staging. In the 18th Century this opera was modern, cutting edge, biting and highly sexual for it’s day. Benedict has faithfully added this edge again to the work that has been lost during the work’s history. To those audience members who have criticised the sexiness I have only one word (coined by my grandfather in an editorial he wrote for The Truth over 100 years ago) – Wowsers !
Opera Australia has mounted a tremendous cast for this work. Michael Lewis was a controversial choice because of his age. The count is usually played by a younger man, but in this production he is so right with the notion of a slightly older businessman with the younger wife. It works well, and when has anyone heard the role so beautifully sung with a voice usually singing Verdi baritone roles ! Similarly one would go a LONG way to hear the Countess so delectably sung as it was by Elvira Fatykhova. With rich honeyed tone, evenly produced through her entire range, looking ravishing and acting the role with aplomb, she was Mozart’s Countess. My memory is emblazoned with the original Countess (Rosemary Gordon) in the Copley production entering the act three hall in a glorious gold, bejewelled Mantua gown bathed in the golden light of dusk to sing ‘I remember’ (Dove sono). This memory is now supplanted with the Benedict/Myers production and Fatykhova’s glorious singing of this aria. This is yet another great success for her to add to her Manon and Violetta for Opera Australia and Lucia for Opera Queensland.
Joshua Bloom was a very handsome Figaro who sang the role beautifully. Although the role was extremely well characterised, his Figaro was more of a slightly awkward schemer than the wily plotter and manipulator typical of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and usually FIGARO. The Countess and Susannah were more obviously the arch manipulators in this production.
Taryn Fiebig and Domenica Matthews were both stunning vocally and dramatically as Susannah and Cherubino. Even more so than in the Armfeld production.
Conal Coad, Jacqueline Dark and Kanen Breen would successfully grace any stage in the World in their character roles – all beautifully sung, and deliciously naughty. Ms Dark now rates with Rosina Raisbeck and Heather Begg as a great interpreter of Marcellina (no small feat). Kanen Breen would have been superb for the occasionally performed ’Asses coat’ aria in the fourth act, but it’s inclusion would have wrecked the dramatic continuity in this production. I have not seen a FIGARO where the fourth act was so well paced and didn’t appear to be drawn out. All of the smaller roles were well cast and sung, and also well characterised. The small and expert chorus contributed considerably to the occasion.
The opera was sung in English. A controversial decision. The hoary old argument for opera in English is as old as the argument over the importance of words or music. There will never be any winners for either. I cut my operatic teeth listening to the old Copley production in English (no one complained then) and got to know every twist and nuance in the libretto, as current audiences will. The modernity of this production (and trends to attracting new and younger audiences) makes the performance in English a good choice, and I have no doubt it WILL attract new opera goers who make the effort to go and see it. However, THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO was never written to be performed in the vernacular. It was written by a German speaking Austrian Composer specifically in Italian, which was the current operatic fad. The music is intrinsically linked to Italian vowels and phrasing and can never be beaten in Italian. The recitatives, and patter arias in particularly roll out and trip off the tongue so delectably, it is a shame not to experience them. Perhaps the answer is get them hooked on the work in English first, and perform the work in the original Italian at subsequent outings.
In the pit, the opera was in the very safe and expert hands of young Australian conductor, Simon Hewitt, in a brightly paced rendition with true Mozartian style. His mood was obviously infectious spreading to the cast and also the ever reliable Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra which played the score vividly and with suitable refinement.
I still love the Copley production, but this MARRIAGE OF FIGARO is a perfect example of what great and modern productions of opera are all about, and can proudly stand up in comparison. No dusty traditionalism or regietheatre here, just superb opera, superb music and superb theatre. Don’t miss it, but leave your wowser maiden aunt at home – she won’t get it.
This week Opera Australia Ring Leaders received their priority booking forms for the 2013 Melbourne RING.
Dates for the three cycles are as follows:
DAS RHEINGOLD Monday, 18th November 2013
DIE WALKURE Wednesday, 20th November 2013
SIEGRIED Friday, 22nd November 2013
GOTTERDAMMERUNG Monday, 25th November 2013
DAS RHEINGOLD Wednesday, 27th November 2013
DIE WALKURE Friday, 29th November 2013
SIEGRIED Monday, 2nd December 2013
GOTTERDAMMERUNG Wednesday, 4th December 2013
DAS RHEINGOLD Friday, 6th December 2013
DIE WALKURE Monday, 9th December 2013
SIEGRIED Wednesday, 11th December 2013
GOTTERDAMMERUNG Friday, 13th December 2013
Ticket prices are as have been previously announced.
Premium Reserve $2,000 per seat
A Reserve $1,600 per seat
B Reserve $1,200 per seat
C Reserve $1000 per seat
Ring Leaders have until the 30th March to submit the ticket applications and pay for the tickets. They can be paid in 2 instalments only by credit card – the first now, and the second on the 1st October 2012 for an additional fee of $40.
Ring Leaders who book now wil be advised of their Cycle and seating reserve by the 14th May 2012, and seat numbers will be advised by the 30th November 2012. Tickets will be mailed in July 2013.
Most surprisingly (no, astoundingly !), payment is expected without any further information on the production or casting being provided. This is hardly the way to treat audience members who have contributed several thousand dollars extra to support the RING project !
With just 17 days left to the grand opening night of the inaugural Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour on Saturday 24th March, Farm Cove Sydney is in the midst of an industrial looking transformation building the harbour stage, stands and catering facilities for Opera Australia’s riskiest production to date.
Farm cove is swarming with floating cranes, mobile cranes, labourers, engineers, and technicians building the facilities in preparation for the set bump in (no mean feat in itself) and light rigging. The two casts have been rehearsing on the set in a studio for the last few weeks. Now Sydney needs only to provide clear skies, and warm early weather for the event, instead of the forecast rain for the month.
Opera Australia has recently released these pictures of the assembly of the massive stage and site facilities:
If you don’t have tickets yet, get them now ! They are the hottest tickets in Sydney !! To book your tickets just click on:
Cast and creatives for LA TRAVIATA are as follows:
|Stage Director||Francesca Zambello|
|Set Designer||Brian Thomson|
|Costume Designer||Tess Schofield|
|Lighting Designer||John Rayment|
|Sound Designer||Tony David Cray|
|Violetta Valery||Emma Matthews (24, 28, 30 March; 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 April)
Rachelle Durkin (27, 29, 31 March; 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 April)
|Alfredo Germont||Gianluca Terranova (24, 28, 30 March; 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 April)
Ji-Min Park (27, 29, 31 March; 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 April)
|Giorgio Germont||Jonathan Summers (24, 28, 30 March; 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 April)
Warwick Fyfe (27, 29, 31 March; 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 April)
|Flora Bervoix||Margaret Plummer|
|Baron Douphol||James Clayton|
|Marquis D’Obigny||Christopher Hillier|
|Dottore Grenvil||John Bolton Wood|
Opera Australia continues to develop it’s digital media program with additional videos of great operatic performances for transmissions to cinemas around the World and release on CD, DVD and Blue Ray media.
Intrinsic to the success of Opera Australia’s digital media program (apart from the glorious productions and singing) is the involvement of Select Audio-Visual Distribution, an Australian company originally set up in 2003 to offer an effective and professional distribution service for the world’s great classical music labels, Select Audio-Visual Distribution has rapidly expanded its market profile and now offers its exemplary service to labels of all genres and styles.
Why the plug? Well Select Audio-Visual Distribution have been particularly kind to the Opera Insider providing samples of all the CDs, DVD, and BlueRay discs released for Opera Australia for review. I must say ALL without exception, are superb records of the performances and artists, and production values and quality continues to rise with each new release. But, more importantly I am also extremely impressed with the accomplishments of this firm in bringing such a huge range of fine music products to the Australian market, and their novel methods of distribution. They are an Australian success story in such trouble economic times.
SELECT AUDIO AND VISUAL DISTRIBUTION OVERVUE
Select Audio-Visual Distribution ships over half a million CD units per year in Australia to over 800 retail accounts – proof that although the CD format faces some serious threats, it’s far from dead!
SAVD is as comfortable dealing with the big industry players such as JB HiFi, Sanity and the ABC shops but also values its independent retail base, in particular the Leading Edge book and music groups.
Although Select Audio-Visual Distribution markets, promotes and sells the world’s largest independent classical CD and DVD labels they are equally expert in representing the smallest boutique labels.
They distribute over 60 labels from more than 15 countries (including Naxos, Chandos, Hyperion, Opus Arte and Opera Rara amongst many others), and release approximately 200 new titles every month. Their aim is to release products simultaneously to their availability in the major overseas markets as this encourages Australia consumers to remain loyal to their local retailer. Select Audio-Visual Distribution is committed to supporting the Australian retail trade.
Successfully representing such a diverse range of labels and genres is challenging and Select Audio-Visual Distribution employs a team of genre and product specialists that enables our labels to successfully present their products to the Australian market.
Their database has been specifically developed to cater for the needs of the information rich, multi-language catalogues of classical labels in particular.
In order to cater for their growing business outside of the classical market, the Select Global product division was created in 2008. Select Global provides a marketing focus for their world, jazz, pop and rock labels. This division enables Select Audio-Visual Distribution to reach the global market by offering Australian labels and artists worldwide digital distribution. This service is available to labels and artists whose physical products are not distributed by them.
Select Audio-Visual Distribution’s two story warehouse in Brookvale NSW, is home to over 35,000 line items and has been set up to effectively support a long tail business model. Although they have many items that sell several thousand copies each year, Select Audio-Visual Distribution can just as easily represent products that may sell only one or two copies. They have developed a unique purchase order system that that is designed to efficiently support this business model. Their warehousing operation is an industry leader in music retail servicing and offers next-day turn-around, fully traceable parcels and a personalised service that is welcomed by the largest national retailers and the smallest independent music and book stores.
As digital downloading becomes an increasingly important way for consumers to purchase their music, Select Audio-Visual Distribution has actively grown in this area. Their iTunes business has increased by over 2,000 percent since 2007.
SAVD also offers a wide range of labels for licensing to film, television and other commercial applications.