ABR Arts Opera

Nina Stemme Returns 

Peter Rose
Wednesday, 06 November 2019

Three years ago, almost to the day, the great Swedish soprano Nina Stemme made her Australian début – in Hobart, a little unexpectedly. Joining her was Stuart Skelton, with whom she had just performed in Mariusz Treliński’s production of Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera – a sombre, martial, digital creation that divided critics and audiences alike (‘overdetermined darkness and cynicism’ was one complaint) but which this reviewer found coherent and ungimmicky.

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The Selfish Giant 

Peter Tregear
Monday, 21 October 2019

‘Victorian’ may have become for us a byword for hypocrisy and repression, but it’s not hard to find literature of the day that plays against this grain. The Victorian fairy tale is certainly one place where authors did find ways covertly to explore challenging social themes, albeit under the cover of the prescription ‘for children’.

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Macbeth 

William Yeoman
Monday, 21 October 2019

In a much-cited letter to Francesco Maria Piave, his librettist for Macbeth, Verdi wrote, ‘This tragedy is one of the greatest creations of the human spirit. If we can’t do something great with it, let us at least try to do something out of the ordinary.’ As it happens, they did do something laudable with the Scottish Play ...

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Norma 

Rob Holdsworth
Thursday, 19 September 2019

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 Ponsel ...

The Ghost Sonata 

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 16 September 2019

A few years before he wrote his play The Ghost Sonata (1907), August Strindberg bitterly observed: ‘Life is so horribly ugly, we human beings so abysmally evil, that if a writer were to depict all that he had seen and heard no one could bear to read it ... Breeding and education seem only to mask the beast in us, and virtue is a disguise ...

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Andrea Chénier 

Peter Rose
Monday, 19 August 2019

A few weeks after that memorable Peter Grimes from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney and Melbourne ...

Melburnians haven’t heard Nicole Car since 2014, when she was a luminous Tatiana in Kasper Holten’s production of Eugene Onegin. Much has happened to the Melbourne-born  lyric soprano since then, primarily in Sydney at first with several big Mozart and Verdi roles (Pamina, Fiordiligi, Violetta, Luisa Miller) ...

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Peter Grimes

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Difficult it is to imagine the full impact Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes had on the opening-night audience at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 7 June 1945, just a few weeks after the conclusion of World War II. Little wonder that the audience, possibly expecting something cheerier from the prodigal wunderkind ...

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Oscar and Lucinda (Sydney Chamber Opera) ★★★★☆

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 29 July 2019

Two new Australian operas within the space of a fortnight is by any measure unusual. They are also operas at both ends of the spectrum in terms of scale. Elena Katz-Chernin’s Whiteley utilised the full resources of the major opera company, Opera Australia, including a large chorus, while Elliot Gyger’s Oscar and Lucinda ...

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Whiteley (Opera Australia) ★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Unlike the many films about the lives of artists, operas in which visual artists feature are few, though two of the most popular in the repertoire, Puccini’s Tosca and La Bohème, both have painters as central characters. The lives of artists are often messy affairs and resist convenient shaping into narrative arcs, with the actual creative process difficult to dramatise effectively ...

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