Category: ARTS & CULTURE

Paolo Bordogna in The Turk in Italy by Opera Australia will make you actually laugh

Paolo Bordogna in The Turk in Italy

So, if there’s one thing you notice about operas that some of the world’s best opera companies like Opera Australia produce, is that a lot of them are really sad. Like, really sad. Everyone dies, there’s lots of heartache and you leave wanting more, but feeling sad about it. In an insatiably excellent way. It’s one doozie of an emotional rollercoaster. But from time-to-time, you come across comedic productions that turn all that around for the better part of two hours, transforming the stage of Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House into a source of laughs, brought-about by a cast lead by – fastly-becoming favourite – singers, Paolo Bordogna and Melburnian diva, Stacey Alleaume. The latest production by Opera Australia, The Turk in Italy (on until 1 September 2018) is just that and so much more. With new import, Bodogna, alongside the likes of Alleaume, Virgilio Marino (who plays Narciso) and Warwick Fyfe (Geronio), the cast, choir and conductor Andrea Molino do a stupendous job in bringing a 50s-themed tale of sexual tension, debauchery and mischievousness to light for the laugh-out-loud enjoyment of the audience. It’s basically a tale of a bored housewife, a sycophantic husband, a sexy Turkish visitor, a nymphomaniacal gypsy and a poet who’s just after a good storyline, all of whom culminate in a comedic explosion that really does wonders to punctuate the winter season for the opera company. We spoke with Bordogna, the Italian tenor, who admits though it’s a funny production, there’s a hell of a lot of finesse… Read More

Looking into the future: How Aida is changing the game for Opera Australia

Opera Australia Aida king

Going up against the traditionalist lovers of classic opera is no easy thing. You have to be one ballsy creative with a great vision and a lot of grunt. Good thing that the artistic director of Opera Australia, Lyndon Terracini is just that and has taken this month’s production of renowned opera Aida as the first stepping stone on the way to the future for the Australian opera company. Aida is the story of the enslaved Ethiopian princess in Egypt, who’s got a thing for a guy called Ramades. Ramades is sent off to conquer her homeland of Ethiopia and he returns with her Dad – the King – as a slave. Ramades is then given the Egyptian princess’ hand in marriage, but he doesn’t want it, so the two meet-up for one last hurrah on the banks of the Nile before it all comes crashing down. It’s a dramatic love story that, if any other productions of it around the world would indicate – is one hell of an effort by the costume and set design team, let alone the director and singers themselves. Just look at the production on Coolangatta beach by Opera Australia in 2017. But in 2018, Opera Australia is doing something different for now and for the future, working with a unique set, incredible cast and costumes and the world-class, ‘knee-weakeningly’ incredible voices of the singers – as per usual – and a production that is as much appealing to the younger generations of screen-addicted millennials as it is for the… Read More

Death, music and an ugly clown: Rigoletto by Opera Australia is a must-see

If there’s one thing you learn fast about any opera, is that a lot of them are sad and most of the time, people – if not everyone – die. So it’s no surprise that the tale of Rigoletto, brought to life this winter season in Sydney by Opera Australia – on until 24 August – tells the tale as old as time, but this time, with all the spit ‘n’ polish, the likes only the Australian opera company can produce. Though, stunning oscillating set and world-class costumery aside, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the loss for Rigoletto in the climax is the saddest of many deaths in reproduced operas of late; because it’s all his fault. With director, Elijah Moshinsky behind the wheel of this season’s production, the production by Opera Australia is every bit as unique as the hit aria of the libretto, La Donna e Mobile, which you’d’ve heard before… Dalibor Jenis takes-on the role of the hideous, clowny, much disliked Rigoletto, turning his renowned performances as the likes of Figaro into an award-winning on-stage display. As he encapsulates the role of the overprotective father who pisses a few people off as he goes through life, little does he realise the fate that awaits him – disproportionately driven by his own hand, by today’s standards – with the death of his daughter. The whole thing is really idyllically represented through the music of Verdi, who even at the time, knew he had a hit on his hands. First fury, then despair, then… Read More

Pinchgut Opera is doing two operas and two performances in two cities in 2019

Pinchgut Opera singer

Sydney and Melbourne are set to host the Pinchgut Opera’s 2019 season between them, from a program comprising of internationally celebrated artists. Pinchgut Opera rediscovers operatic masterpieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and next year, the company will stage four seasons: in April, Pinchgut performs a concert of Bach’s Easter Oratorio together with Telemann’s Thunder Ode; in June, Monteverdi’s final opera The Return of Ulysses; in August, the multi-award-winning counter-tenor Valder Sabadus will perform in Australia for the first time for one night only; and in December Pinchgut will stage Vivaldi’s favourite opera, Farnace. It’s an exciting time for the production company who’ve made the baroque era of opera and the striking days of the countertenor their ‘bread and butter’ since launching in 2002 in Sydney. What are the opera about? Based on the final chapters of Homer’s Odyssey, Monteverdi’s late masterpiece, The Return of Ulysses, is an epic yet intimate story of love, constancy and sacrifice. This production will be directed by Chas Rader-Shieber, designed by Melanie Liertz, and features Portuguese tenor Fernando Guimarães, last seen in Australia in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Handel: Heaven, as Ulysses, a role he has sung to international acclaim. Australian mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby, whose performances have earned her rave reviews around the world, joins him as Penelope. Widely acclaimed as Monteverdi’s crowning achievement,The Return of Ulysses was his first opera for the city of Venice, with its humming network of thriving and competing opera houses. Gramophone has described Monteverdi as illuminating ‘almost every aspect of human experience in a way that was without precedent’ in this, his final opera. Vivaldi’s Farnace is a passionate drama of political and dynastic intrigue. In… Read More

STOMP is back at the Capitol Theatre Sydney for one week

Stomp trollies

Percussion is alive and well! In fact, STOMP – the internationally acclaimed on-stage homage to it – is back in Sydney for a week-long production of an on-stage celebration of all things noise. Following sell-out world tours, STOMP is serving-up unstoppable energy and pure stage magic, according to some, in an array of music that comes from the most unexpected of ‘instruments’. Wordless, witty and fun, STOMP has become a global phenomenon. Eight performers use non-traditional instruments – everything from supermarket trolleys to Zippo lighters, plastic bags to garbage can lids, and even the kitchen sink – to hammer out an explosively feel-good rhythm. It’s pretty clever stuff. Catch the show from 31 July – 5 August 2018 at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney. See more at the STOMP website. 

Why Lucia Di Lamermoor by Opera Australia is the crazy chick you can’t help but love

Lucia Lamermoor Jessica Pratt singer murder

One of the most famous arias in the performance of Lucia Di Lamermoor was made huge thanks to its cameo in the 1997 smash hit The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis where the blue alien gave her rendition. It was as poignant a moment in the movie as it is the on-stage production by Opera Australia in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House in 2018, only brought to life by the inimitable soprano-cum-menu’s namesake, Australian singer Jessica Pratt. The story is that of a woman, so torn in love it drives her mad, leading to a demise that is as upsetting as it is unwarranted, highlighting the futility of what is considered ‘state of mind’ and the snarky ridiculousness of what we consider to be ‘love’. Despite the emotional toll it no doubt takes to play the part of the fragile and quick-to-fall Lucia, Jessica Pratt loves playing the role in the production, on at the Sydney Opera House until 27 July. “The music is so descriptive that it really guides my emotions throughout the role, the tough part is the morning afterward when the adrenaline has left my body and I feel the pain of being thrown on the floor continuously the night before and all the tension I hold in my body during the performance,” said Jessica. She takes it on well, working within the realms of the way Donizetti planned it all, with a uniquely contemporary take all Opera Australia’s own, that really let her talents shine. “I find that… Read More

The winners, grinners and who’s who of the 2018 Helpmann Awards in Sydney

Helpmann Sydney

On the set of this year’s production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, the 2018 Helpmann Awards Act II took place, celebrating the best talent Australia has to offer in the performance space. Hosted by Glenn A. Baker Am, Sydney Dance Company’s own Rafael Bonachela, TV host David Campbell and soprano Jacqueline Dark – and more – 23 awards were presented for the categories of comedy, cabaret, contemporary music, musicals, opera, classical music, theatre and ballet, dance and physical theatre. These Awards complement the 20 Awards announced yesterday at the Helpmann Awards Act I, of course. The Helpmann Awards were established in 2001 by Live Performance Australia and this year, president Andrew Kay AM, said, “We are proud to present the 18th Annual Helpmann Awards across two nights this year. The breadth and diversity of winners, nominees and performances at tonight’s and yesterday’s events shines a spotlight on Australia’s world class creative and artistic talent. Congratulations to all 2018 Helpmann Award nominees and winners!” It’s a dazzling time for anyone involved in stage production and the night of nights for those whose talents are to be admired and adored. The show closed with the biggest line up of Australia’s leading vocalists from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s concert production of Funny Girl. Divas and funny girls themselves Trevor Ashley (Hairspray), Michaela Banas (Upper Middle Bogan), Natalie Bassingthwaighte (The X Factor), Casey Donovan (Australian Idol), Virginia Gay (First Tuesday Book Club), Verity Hunt-Ballard (Mary Poppins) Dami Im (Eurovision), Maggie McKenna (Muriel’s Wedding), Zahra Newman (Book of Mormon) and West end and Broadway star Caroline O’Connor had the audience standing in their seats and cheering for more. The Helpmann Awards 2018 will broadcast: ABC… Read More

Something a little different: Opera Australia will perform Westside Story on Sydney Harbour in 2019

Opera Westside Story

For years, Opera Australia has stunned the local and international opera and creative-loving audiences with what they can do atop a pontoon in the middle of Sydney Harbour for the annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. But in 2019, there is something a little different in-store… In 2019, Opera Australia will perform Westside Story on the renowned floating stage with the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge completing the inner urban feel of the unique production. Taking one of the most iconic works of the 20th century out of the theatre and onto Opera Australia’s now famous outdoor stage, will see years of planning finally come to fruition says OA’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini. “I’ve always loved West Side Story, it’s one of the greatest pieces ever written, and I’ve been wanting to include it in the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour repertoire since we started the program seven years ago. “The setting is perfect, with the city skyline in the background, you won’t get a better stage backdrop in the world, and I’ve said from the start, if a piece is right, then we’ll do it, we don’t want to be bound by preconceptions,” said Terracini. And the good news is for fans of the classic tale, West Side Story will continue the tradition of the great outdoor spectacles that have come before it, with the world’s finest singers, musicians, dancers and creative teams set to bring the vision to life. It all starts on 22 March – 21 April 2019. Check the Opera Australia… Read More

What to know about the opening night of Rigoletto by Opera Australia this July

Opera Rigoletto

Verdi’s Rigoletto hasn’t been performed in Australia for a couple of years now, but since then, you’d be hard done by to find anyone who’s not been counting down until they’re able to hear some of the world’s most famous arias belted out in front of a packed Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. Opera Australia is returning the production with no holds barred this July, directed by Elijah Moshinsky with Renato Palumbo behind the baton, the production is set to be one of the many gems in this winter season’s crown. MORE: You should also see Lucia di Lamermoor this season Showcasing the wonderful Dalibor Jenis as the protagonist Rigoletto, alongside Gianluca Terranova as the Duke of Mantua and Irina Lungu as Gilda, the production’s vocal prowess is glaringly obvious, which when coupled with the fabulous set-work of the ever-wowing department led by designer Michael Yeargan, will put the hapless tale of secrets and seduction right into the memory banks. Complete with the renowned La donna e mobile, it’s a production for the ages. What is Rigoletto about? The Duke of Mantua lives only for pleasure of the female kind. No man’s wife or daughter is out of his reach, and while the Duke seduces their women, Rigoletto mocks their misfortune. The men of the court want vengeance, and when they hear Rigoletto has a beautiful woman hidden away, they plot to abduct her. The woman is Rigoletto’s daughter, who despite his best efforts to keep her hidden, has already caught the eye of the lustful Duke. He… Read More

What Maggie Beer, Dame Nellie Melba and soprano Jessica Pratt all have in common

Maggie Beer Jessica Pratt Opera

It was the iconic Dame Nellie Melba who started the trend at the height of her career and has since left the trend unmatched. Until now. Australia’s favourite kitchen legend, Maggie Beer has joined forces with the Sydney Opera House to craft a dessert – much like in the way of the famed ‘peach Melba’ after the Dame herself – after soprano Jessica Pratt thanks largely to her debut this season as the lead in the Lucia Di Lamermoor production by Opera Australia this month. When Dame Nellie Melba was at the height of her worldwide fame in 1892, legendary French chef, Auguste Escoffier of the Savoy Hotel created a dessert in her honour, especially for a dinner party held by the Duke of Orlèans and named it Peach Melba. To be served at Aria by Matt Moran on Sydney’s Circular Quay, Maggie and Matt will serve her creation, aptly named La Dolce Jessica by Maggie Beer during Jessica’s season of Lucia di Lammermoor. The bougie dessert is a decadent deconstructed trifle, the dessert consists of a lemon curd base, fresh raspberries and raspberry jelly, crystallised macadamia nuts, an Amaretto crumb, and toffee tuile. Find out more about Aria and the latest production by Opera Australia at their websites.