Opera Australia

Attila 

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 13 March 2020

The fearsome figure of Attila the Hun (406–53 CE) has always had a bad press, yet in Verdi’s opera of 1846 he emerges as the most sympathetic and nuanced character of a group of three other rather unlikeable, two-dimensional principals, all of whom plot his final demise. During the course of the opera, Attila emerges as a somewhat naïve, trusting character, and shows great respect for his avowed enemy, the Roman general Ezio. Yet it does not end happily for Attila, ultimately done in by the three of them; almost certainly not a historically accurate depiction.

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La Bohème 

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 07 January 2020

Gale Edwards’s production of La Bohème is back for an extended summer season – sixteen performances no less. This production has been filling theatres since its creation in 2011. It may not run for as long as Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 extravaganza, still an annual fixture at the Metropolitan Opera, but it probably has another good decade to go. Revived here by Liesel Badorrek, it works considerably better in the tiny Joan Sutherland Theatre than it did in the State Theatre in 2018; the latter is too palatial for bohemian confinement and privations.

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Turandot 

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Reviewing the recent production of Madama Butterfly in Adelaide, I dwelt on Giacomo Puccini’s ceaseless search for new subjects between operas and how he considered everything from a Zola novel to the historical Marie Antoinette before settling on the story of Cio-Cio San.

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The recent speech by young Swedish climate-change activist Greta Thunberg has provoked much comment and controversy. It also caused me to ponder the future of our planet and how our cultural lives will be affected by the environmental changes that will inevitably take place by the middle of the twenty-first century ...

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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 ...

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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Anna Bolena (Opera Australia) ★★★★

Peter Rose
Monday, 08 July 2019

Opera Australia – in its present expansionary phase – has hitched its wagon to a digital star in the form of a series of seven-metre-high LED screens. The future moves about on a busy automation system, thus creating a series of new dramatic spaces. Interviewed in the July 2019 issue of Opera magazine, Lyndon Terracini ...

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Il Viaggio a Reims (Opera Australia) ★★★★

Elizabeth Kertesz
Monday, 27 May 2019

On 24 May 2019, an excited Melbourne audience witnessed a night of spectacular entertainment and magnificent music in the Australian première of Rossini’s 1825 opera Il Viaggio a Reims, exuberantly reimagined by Damiano Michieletto. Il Viaggio is an opera with multiple backstories. It was Rossini’s first commission ...

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West Side Story (Opera Australia) ★★★

Peter Tregear
Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Some sixty-two years after its Broadway première, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’s musical and geographical updating of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to pack a powerful dramatic punch. While not without its weaknesses, such as the reliance on now-dated street slang and ethnic stereotypes ...

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