La Traviata (Opera Australia)

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Michael Halliwell Friday, 02 March 2018
Published in ABR Arts

It is a particular pleasure for an opera lover, even a hard-bitten critic, to watch a career develop and blossom. Nicole Car, making her role début as Violetta for Opera Australia, is one such singer. Audiences have enjoyed her in a series of important roles, among them Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Micaëla in Carmen, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Luisa in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, and Thaïs in Massenet’s opera. A recent Metropolitan Opera press release described her as the ‘Mimì of our time’, a role in which she makes her debut there next season. By any measure it has been a remarkable rise to the operatic élite since graduating from college some ten years ago.

Less helpfully, or indeed accurately, she has also been described as ‘the new Joan Sutherland’. Apart from her Australian origins, there is no real comparison between them. Car is at the beginning of what one hopes will be an illustrious career, but she is a very different kind of singer. Sutherland had a sumptuous, awe-inspiring voice which she used with unparalleled facility and agility – La Stupenda an apt description. She was also an imposing physical presence on stage.

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Published in ABR Arts
Michael Halliwell

Michael Halliwell

Michael Halliwell studied literature and music at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, at the London Opera Centre, and with Tito Gobbi in Florence. He has sung in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia and was principal baritone for many years with the Netherlands Opera, the Nürnberg Municipal Opera, and the Hamburg State Opera singing over fifty major operatic roles, including several world premiere productions. He has served as Chair of Vocal Studies and Opera, Pro-Dean and Head of School, and Associate Dean (Research) at the Sydney Conservatorium. He is President of the International Association for Word and Music Studies. His publications include the monographs, Opera and the Novel (Rodopi: 2005); and National Identity on Contemporary Australian Opera: myths reconsidered (Routledge, 2018), as well as many chapters and articles. He still performs regularly and recent CDs include When the Empire Calls (ABC Classics, 2005); O for a Muse of Fire: Australian Shakespeare Settings (Vox Australis, 2013); Amy Woodforde-Finden: The Oriental Song-Cycles (Toccata Classics, 2014); That Bloody Game; Australian WWI Songs (Wirripang, 2015).

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