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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).

'Il Trittico: A vibrant production of Puccini’s triptych' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 04 July 2024
This year marks the centenary of Giacomo Puccini’s sudden death in Brussels while being treated for throat cancer. He was the most famous and celebrated living opera composer. However, Puccini’s posthumous reputation suffered in the latter half of the twentieth century; an infamous comment by renowned musicologist Joseph Kerman in 1952 describing Tosca as ‘a shabby little shocker’, was rep ... (read more)

'Dido and Aeneas: Pinchgut Opera revels in the possibilities' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 03 June 2024
A powerful sense of irony accompanies the poignant final words sung by Queen Dido of Carthage as she contemplates her imminent death in Henry Purcell’s compact three-act, hour-long opera Dido and Aeneas. ‘Remember me, but ah! Forget my fate’, has echoed down the ages since the late seventeenth century, but little is known, never mind remembered, about the actual performance of the opera in P ... (read more)

'The Magic Flute: A laid-back new production of Mozart’s opera' | Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 02 February 2024
The heyday of the opera film – a film made of an opera to be shown in cinemas, and not necessarily filmed in a theatre – occurred in the final three decades of the twentieth century. Films emerged with regularity, often from well-known opera directors such as Franco Zeffirelli, Jean-Pierre Ponelle, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, and others. However, the advent of live opera HD broadcasts early in the ... (read more)

'Siegfried ★★★★ Götterdämmerung ★★★★1/2: Chen Shi-Zheng’s Asian-Pacific Ring' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 08 December 2023
The great German director Götz Friedrich asserted that the action of Richard Wagner’s Ring takes place not in thirteenth-century Scandinavia nor in nineteenth-century Germany, but here and now in whichever theatre we are currently located. What he was producing was Welttheater, a piece of theatre which holds up a mirror to the world: ‘Every artistic realization must establish its “today” ... (read more)

'Das Rheingold ★★★★ Die Walküre ★★★★: Opera Australia's new Ring is underway' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 04 December 2023
Staging Wagner’s monumental Der Ring des Nibelungen is the ultimate achievement for any opera company worthy of the name. Nearly sixteen hours of music, more than thirty characters, not to mention an enlarged orchestra, monumental settings, as well as chorus and extras; all these demands drain the resources of every company, be it the mighty New York Metropolitan Opera or the tradition-laden Vie ... (read more)

'Sibyl: William Kentridge’s unique visual language' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 03 November 2023
Fresh graves are everywhere; no place will resist destruction; where shall we put our hopeWilliam Kentridge, Sibyl The use of the word ‘protean’ has become clichéd. Similarly, ‘Renaissance man/woman, polymath’ etc., have been used to describe many artists, perhaps never more appropriately than in the case of William Kentridge. His output is staggering, ranging over stage works, a wid ... (read more)

'The Tales of Hoffmann: A fascinating production of Offenbach’s classic' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 13 July 2023
On the morning of 5 October 1880, the elderly comic actor Léonce called at the apartment of his old friend Jacques Offenbach near the Paris Opéra. The door was opened by Mathurin, Offenbach’s manservant.‘How is he?’‘Monsieur Offenbach is dead; he died quite peacefully, without knowing anything about it.’‘Ah! – he will be very surprised when he finds out.’ Whether apocryphal ... (read more)

'Otello, Hamlet, War and Peace: Three nights at the opera in Munich' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 04 July 2023
Many would regard Verdi’s late masterpiece, Otello, as the most successful operatic adaptation of Shakespeare. Some have also even opined that it is better than the play. There is no doubting that it is a remarkable work and a towering landmark in nineteenth-century opera. It was a remarkable alignment of fate for this reviewer to able to see the Verdi work a day before a third viewing of perhap ... (read more)

'Adriana Lecouvreur: A new production of Cilea’s lustrous melodrama' by Michael Halliwell

ABR Arts 21 February 2023
Francesco Cilea’s (1866–1950) most successful opera, Adriana Lecouvreur (1902), is a work steeped in melodrama and the theatrical, but there was perhaps a little too much ‘drama’ at the première of Opera Australia’s production on Monday night. Cilea’s opera must rank highly among those works that commentators frequently disparage, while audiences continue to stream into theatres to e ... (read more)