Posts Tagged ‘Opera’
Is this the future of opera ? Australian composer Chloe Charody thinks so. 3 years ago, Sydney born Chloe Charody, a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music in composition and Australian composer of the year in 2007, began to resent the somewhat stale and ‘youth-alienating’ image of classical music and began what would turn out to be the most rewarding decision of her career thus far. Charody, along with long time friend and close work colleague violinist Sonja Schebeck began the quest to transform the presentation of classical music. In that same year, Charody founded Ilythian (with Schebeck as lead violinist), an ensemble fusing Charody’s original classical music with theatrical elements inspired genres such as circus, vaudeville and burlesque.
In 2011, Charody’s circus opera THE CARNIVAL debuted on London’s West End at the Leicester Square Theatre. Composed by Charody and produced by her own production company Charody Productions UK, THE CARNIVAL starred Ilythian and one of London’s top contortionists Delia Du Sol. THE CARNIVAL became an instant success, receiving exceptional reviews from the notoriously harsh London Media.
FollowingTHE CARNIVAL’s West End Debut, THE CARNIVAL ran a 4 week sold out season in Melbourne. With the success of THE CARNIVAL, it became apparent that this new genre of theatre had a very strong appeal with younger audiences and plans to take THE CARNIVAL to the rest of the world were immediately implemented. Charody teamed up with producers Eloise Oliver and Charles Savage to bring THE CARNIVAL to a large scale international tour which will begin in October 2011 and will tour throughout Europe, Australasia, and the UK. Investment in the tour is still being sort.
A Sydney preview of THE CARNIVAL was presented last night at THE VICTORIA ROOM restaurant in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Despite some noisy diners the performance was extremely novel, incorporating fire eating, pole dancing and aerial performance in an eclectic mix of classically inspired music that melds cabaret, Gipsy music and Charody’s own inspired and unique music into an eclectic mix. Think Berlin Cabaret meets Cirque du Soleil, or as one British critic described it as Tim Burton meets Bizet. With a nod to Craig Armstrong, Ravel and others; her music is strong, vibrant and romantic. The three musical performers – Sonja Schebeck on violin (herself a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a finalist in the ABC Young Performers Awards 2010 and now studying in Berlin), together with a pianist and soprano delivered virtuosic performances amidst the circus acts present as part of an ill-defined story line. Not withstanding, this was an electric performance.
Coinciding with the success of THE CARNIVAL, Charody’s ballet opera MAGDALENE was premiered on March 27th 2011 by The Dutch National Ballet in one of Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, The Muziektheatre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. MAGDALENE is Charody’s second ballet opera that she composed in collaboration with choreographer Remi Wortmeyer and librettist Malcolm Rock. After MAGDALENE premiered to an audience of over 2, 000, the ballet was then contracted for another 5 performances by The Dutch National Ballet.
At the age of 26, Charody remains one of the most in demand composers of her generation. Charody currently lives in Berlin Germany, and is signed to the leading German music publishers Budde Music / Edition Corona Musikverlag GMBH.
Opera Insider wishes Chloe, Sonja and their team best wishes with the coming tour and encourages them to pursue their dream of shaking up traditional music forms.
Visit http://www.thevictoriaroom.com/to see upcoming performances and bookings
The great British opera director, John Copley is returning to Australia to personally supervise the restaging of his Australian Opera production of Puccini’s TOSCA for Opera Queensland. The luscious and very vivid production dating from the 1980′s. is being staged in the Lyric Theatre of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in October of this year and will star Cheryl Barker, Julian Gavin and Douglas McNicol.
Mr Copley, an Internationally acclaimed opera director is now almost 78 years young.
After a brief career as an actor, he became stage manager at Sadler’s Wells in 1953 and resident producer for the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in 1972. He has produced most of the standard operatic repertoire for many opera houses and festivals in Europe, USA and Canada, and has had a long association with Opera Australia, including the Australian premiere of Janecek’s JENUFA in 1984.
His first production for the Australian Opera was Mozart’s MARRIAGE OF FIGARO in 1971, and he was to go on to direct new and always exciting productions of RIGOLETTO, THE MAGIC FLUTE, LA TRAVIATA, MACBETH, I MASNADIERI, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, COSI FAN TUTTE, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, LUCIA DE LAMMERMOOR, CAVELLARIA RUSTICANA AND I PAGLIACI, AND FRA DIAVOLO amongst others.
For the old State Opera of Victoria he directed magnificent productions of LA BOHEME, and Verdi’s DON CARLO which opened the State Theatre in the Victorian Arts Centre.
He is an operatic legend and Opera Insider welcomes his return to Australia.
Opera Australia has just released pictures of the set models for their Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour 2012 production – Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.
Previously Opera Australia has been very tight lipped concerning details of future productions, but for this exciting new and expensive venture, potential audiences are being given increasing details over time to wet (pardon the pun) their appetite (pardon another pun, as their will be catering of meals at the performances as well). The selective leaking of information has worked extremely well for companies such as Apple, but it is the first time we have seen a similar approach to opera in Australia. Other recently leaked information by Opera Australia include graphics of what the production will look like from the audience on Sydney Harbour, and a video of the director, Francesca Zambello describing some of the major features of the staging ( see my previous article entitled Official launch today of Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour).
The topic of whether opera, or some operas should be translated into English for perforamnce in Australia has recently been raised again. Surely there is no clear cut answer to this age old question, but rethinking the dilemna from time to time is healthy, as views, public perceptions and competition for audiences changes.
The arguments in favour of translation include better understanding of the text, and making the opera more accessible to the audience - particularly the NEW and YOUNGER audience members . There is certainly an argument for the rich, narrative texts and complex emotions and thoughts in the music dramas by Wagner and Richard Strauss being sung in English. Indeed the first performances of DER ROSENKAVALIER in Australia in 1972 were sung in English as it was the Australian premier and it was a rich text comedy. Indeed the policy of The Australian Opera at the time was to perform comedies, new lesser known works and operas in difficult languages such as Russian or Czech in English. Mozart comedies during the1990′s were sung in English including new productions of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, THE MAGIC FLUTE, DON GIOVANNI and COSI FAN TUTTE. Prokofiev’s WAR AND PEACE that opened the Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre was performed in English as was Rossini’s BARBER OF SEVILLE in the opening season and Janacek’s JENUFA the following season. Later Auber’s French comic opera FRA DIAVOLO was also sung in English – all to great acclaim. Over the last 25 years this policy of limited performance of some works in English has fallen by the way side. Certainly the performance of 19th Century operas in English has never been entertained due to the repetitive nature of some of the text, relatively straight forward plots and the audience being accustomed to hearing them in the original language (although this may not have been the desire of the composer – see below). More recently again Opera Australia has tentatively explored productions of opera in English again. THE MAGIC FLUTE has recently been staged sung in German but with the dialogue in English, the recent Sharman production of COSI FAN TUTTE was in English and this year’s production of Handel’s PARTENOPE was also sung in English.
The arguments against performing opera in English include not altering the pulse of the music and disparity of vowels to the music, difficulties with obtaining good translations and the difficulty with international singers having to fit into productions if they are not in the same language. The availability of an excellent quality translation is the key to overcoming the musical problems. As performance of operas in the original language seems to be the International standard these days, few International singers know their repertoire in English as well as the original language or are unwilling to learn them. This was not the case in Europe during the 19th Century when many operas were translated for performance in other languages in other cities, and the ability of 19th Century and early 20th Century singers to do this is a facility perhaps many modern singers have almost lost. Not all, as we have recently seen such great (and also Australian) singers such as Yvonne Kenny perform the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER with the English National Opera (in English), and Opera Australia and the Vienna Sate Opera (in German), and Stuart Skelton performing the title role in PARSIFAL for the English National Opera (in English) and Opernhaus Zurich (in German). OzOpera – the touring branch of Opera Australia takes operas on tour to many regional centres around Australia and all operas are performed in English. Performances over the years have included CARMEN, THE MAGIC FLUTE, HANSEL AND GRETEL, RIGOLETTO, LA TRAVIATA and LA BOHEME . So some reasonable translations must be available. Why then the use of translated performances of opera for regional Australia against main-stage performances in Sydney or Melbourne? Perhaps a perception that the works will be more accessible and inviting to an audience less exposed to opera.
Despite what opera managers and audiences may prefer, surely the wishes of the composers should get a say with how their works are performed? It seems not. Consider the following:
WHAT DO THE COMPOSERS THINK?
Wagner arrived in Australia (metaphorically speaking) on 18 August 1877, one year after the first Bayreuth Festival, when LOHENGRIN was performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Melbourne by William Lyster’s Royal Italian and English Opera Company.Soon after the LOHENGRIN performances, a local resident Emil Sander wrote to Wagner to inform him of this noteworthy event – a fact recorded by Cosima in her diary. The entry for 21 October 1877 reads: ‘He receives a letter from a theatre director in Melbourne, according to which LOHENGRIN last month made its ceremonious entry there, too.’
The following day, Wagner replied to Sander as follows:
My very dear Sir, I was delighted to receive your news, and cannot refrain from thanking you for it.
I hope you will see to it that my works are performed in ‘English’: only in this way can they be intimately understood by an English-speaking audience. We are hoping that they will be so performed in London.
We (that is, I and my family) were extremely interested to see the views of Melbourne which you sent me: since you were kind enough to offer to send us more, I can assure you that I should be only too delighted to receive them.
Please give my kind regards to Herr Lyster, and, however remote your part of the world may be, continue to be so well-disposed towards
Your most grateful servant, Richard Wagner
Clearly, Wagner wished his dramatic works to be performed in the local language so every nuance of the text could be understood. However, he was not as fussed as Verdi as who would do the translating .
Verdi was also attune to his works being performed in the local language . JERUSALEM was Verdi’s first commission for the Opera de Paris. It is a grand opera in 4 acts set to a French libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz which was partly translated and adapted from Verdi’s original 1843 Italian opera, I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA . There are significant changes in the location and action of the French version, especially given the need to locate them in a French context. The first performance was given by the Opéra at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris on November 26th, 1847. In 1850, the French text was translated into Italian by Calisto Bassi and performed as GERUSALEMME at La Scala, Milan on 26 December. However, it failed to supersede I LOMBARDI in the affections of Italian audiences.
IL TROVATORE was premiered in Italian at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on the 19th January 1853. It was first performed in Paris in Italian on the 23rd December 1854 by the Theatre des Italiens at the Salle Ventadour. A French version translated by E. Milien Pacini and called LE TROUVERE was first performed at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels on the 20th May 1856 and at the Paris Opera at the Salle Le Peletier on the 12th January 1857. Verdi made some changes to the score for the French premiere of LE TROUVERE including the addition of music for the ballet in Act 3 and several revisions focusing on the music of Azucena, including an extended version of the finale of Act 4, to accommodate the role’s singer Borghi-Mamo.
Verdi’s LES VEPRES SICILIENNES , a grand opera in five acts by set to a French libretto by Charles Duveyrier and Eugene Scribe, was first performed at the Paris Opera on the 13th June 1855. As was later to happen with Verdi’s DON CARLOS, which was also based on a French libretto, an Italian libretto was quickly prepared under Verdi’s supervision by the poet Ettore Caimi with the title, GIOVANNA DE GUZMAN. Verdi was aware that in Italy at that time, it would have been impossible to place the story in Sicily[ but, based on Scribe’s suggestions for changing the location, it became Portugal in 1640 while under Spanish control. This version was first performed at the Teatro Regio in Parma on the 26th December 1855. After 1861 in the new post-unification era, it reverted to its setting under the name of I VESPRI SICILIANI.
DON CARLOS, Verdi’s next commission for the Paris Opera, a 5 act grand opera to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Mery. It received its first performance at the Theatre Inperial del’Opera on the 11th March 1867. Over the following twenty years, cuts and additions were made to the opera, resulting in a number of versions being available to directors and conductors. A translation of DON CARLOS into Italian was in preparation as early as the autumn of 1866, and Verdi insisted that the opera, still referred to as DON CARLOS, be given in the same five act version plus ballet as at the Paris Opera. This Italian translation – with some cuts and alterations – was presented first at the Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden on the 4th June 1867, and received its Italian premiere – uncut – at the Teatro Communale di Bologna on the 27th October of that year. A new Italian translation of a revised French text, re-using much of the original 1866 translation by de Lauzières, was made by Angelo Zanadarni. The La Scala première of the revision, now re-titled DON CARLO , took place on 10 January 1884.
MACBETH, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO AND AIDA were also to be translated into French for their French premieres by Verdi working with Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter and Charles du Locle.
In more recent times Gyorgy Ligeti’s only opera LE GRAND MACABRE, composed in 1997 and revised in 1996, was written by Ligeti in collaboration with Michael Meschke and unlike many operas, this one was written specifically with flexibility of language in mind so it could be performed in the language of the audience. Only a few notes need be changed to perform the opera in any language.The original libretto was written in German, and the opera has been performed also in Swedish, English, French and Italian as was the composer’s intentions.
So what is the answer? There is none, but there is little point sticking to a prescriptive policy of ALL operas in the original language in these modern times.
Currently we live in a time of a global economic recession of indeterminate length. Australia is in a lucky position in that we are affected less than most places around the globe. Despite this we ARE effected , and opera is also affected by increased competition for the entertainment dollar between theatre, opera, concerts, movies and musicals. 30% of ticket sales to opera in Sydney for Opera Australia is said to come from the tourist dollar which is currently in decline due to the global recession. Yet ticket sales to large scale musicals are currently growing at the rate of 10% per annum in Australia.
Opera in Australia has to compete directly with live musicals which are getting more lavishly staged, as well as HD Movie broadcasts of truly great opera productions from some of the greatest opera houses in the world on our cinema screens (and soon in 3D) at a smaller cost than a live opera ticket. Therefore anything that makes the live opera product more attractive , ACCESSIBLE and marketable to not only current opera goers, but also new and younger potential audience members HAS to be considered.
Limited use of opera in English is worth considering to grow the new and young opera audiences and compete against large scale musicals and cinema opera. The Mozart comedies, other comedies, new and less well known operas may benefit from stagings, or OCCASIONAL stagings in English. For these works, which are usually performed by the resident company principals, the argument for staging them in the original language for guest artists is not relevant. Many of the same resident principals have already sung some of the standard repertoire works in English as they rose through the ranks with OzOpera or the Opera Studio.
I think few would argue a more radical approach with ALL opera sung in English in Australia with only one National opera company. Especially works by Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini or Wagner (despite the wishes of some of these composers), as the original words and music have become so closely knit and accepted.
Simply put, each work could be scrutinised on a case by case basis, balancing audience appeal, how well known the work is, complexity of libretto and text, available translations, singer availability and the desires of the company, director, musical staff and singers.
Perhaps the question needs to be asked “what does our potential audience want?” instead of ”what are we prepared to give them?”
Opera Australia has officially launched it’s first HANDA OPERA ON SYDNEY HARBOUR tonight.
The first production will be (as previously hinted in my Opera Australia 2012 Season leaks article in January of this year) Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA. The cast and creatives are as follows:
Opera in 4 Acts by Guiseppe Verdi
Conductor Brian Castles-Onion
Director Francesca Zambello
Choreographer Stephen Baynes
Set Designer Brian Thompson
Costumes Tess Schofield
Lighting John Rayment
Violetta Emma Matthews alternating with Rachel Durkin
Alfredo Ji-Min Park alternating with Gianluca Terranova
Germont Jonathan Summers alternating with Warwick Fyfe
Quoting from Opera Australia’s media release tonight – ‘Fireworks, a harbour stage and a giant chandelier will transform opera in Sydney like never before when Opera Australia presents La Traviata on Sydney Harbour for an exclusive three-week season starting 24 March 2012. It will be the first opera in Australia to be held on a tailor-made stage built over the water off the Royal Botanic Gardens and will be directed and designed especially for this unique outdoor staging. It is the Company’s most ambitious project to date, working in conjunction with Events NSW on behalf of the NSW Government to attract audiences from across the globe to be a part of this uniquely spectacular opera event.’
The concept is similar to the the staging of operas on an offshore island with a large audience watching from seating on the shore on Lake Constance at the Bregenz Festival in Austria.
The $11.5 million production is intended to be a drawcard for international tourists, who comprise about 30 per cent of Opera Australia’s audience at the Opera House, but who have been coming in fewer numbers since the global financial crisis.
Tickets with prices ranging from $85 – $350 with full dining and show packages available, go on sale to the public on 4 July 2011.
Opera on Sydney Harbour is sponsored by Events NSW and Japanese businessman Haruhisa Handa’s International Foundation for Arts and Culture. Dr Handa has previously sponsored the Perth International Arts Festival. The sponsorship is for three years, and a different opera will be staged next year.
Details about the set have been revealed. The floating stage will be 32 metres wide; three times the size of the Opera Theatre stage in Sydney, fireworks will erupt at the climax of the famous “Drinking Song” of Act 1, Violetta will ascend into the sky riding a dazzling chandelier which measures 9.5 metres in diameter , and the orchestra will be situated underneath the stage in a studio to ensure the best possible amplified sound quality.
Opera Australia had set up a specific site for the event which has been up for the last week (but without any detailed content).
For further information see:
or details on the event Facebook site: