Norma, Bellini’s 1831 two-act tragedy, includes one of opera’s grand soprano roles. Requiring great vocal and acting ability, the role is up there with Lady Macbeth, Brünnhilde, and Turandot. An outstanding Norma arrives infrequently. Rosa Ponselle, Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé, and Joan Sutherland all had that indefinable something extra to enliven the role. Australia has produced anoth ... (read more)
Rob Holdsworth attended his first opera performance in 1962. He collects recordings and libretti and has a special interest in the lesser-known works of the nineteenth century.
Melbourne Opera’s latest production is Gaetano Donizetti’s 1837 lyric tragedy Roberto Devereux, the last in his so-called Tudor trilogy. The company staged Mary Stuart in 2015 and Anna Bolena in 2016, to considerable acclaim. However, this airing of Roberto Devereux, an Australian première, is something else. Put simply, it was one of the most thrilling nights at the opera I have ever experie ... (read more)
Melbourne Opera, in recent years, has established a reputation for enabling keen opera goers (especially bel cantists) to experience rarely performed works. Remarkably or not, this new production marks the first Australian professional production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, which was premièred in 1830. The opera was widely performed over the next three decades but then languished until ... (read more)
Amongst the seventy works composed by Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848), only three, The Elixir of Love, Don Pasquale, and Lucia Di Lammermoor were regularly performed in the first half of the twentieth century, and the most popular of these, Lucia, was often presented in truncated form. After World War II, a burgeoning recording industry in search of novelty, coupled with a nascent interest in the ... (read more)
Writing to a friend in 1898, Giuseppe Verdi said of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville: You may say things about Rossini and they may be true regarding the borrowings, the speed of composition and so forth, but I confess that I cannot help believing ‘The Barber of Seville’ for abundance of ideas, for verve and for truth of declamation the most beautiful opera buffa in existence. And yet, thi ... (read more)
In these straitened economic times, it is rare for opera companies to stray far from the standard, well-known repertoire. But there are only so many Toscas, Traviatas, and Butterflys one needs to see in a lifetime. So it is pleasing that Melbourne Opera was prepared to stage an opera once so famous it was parodied by Gilbert and Sullivan but is nowadays sadly neglected. The last time this writer s ... (read more)