Posts Tagged ‘opera queensland

13
Aug
17

Mozart Airborne

 

Mozart Airborne

Expressions Dance Company & Opera Queensland

QPAC Cremorne Theatre

August 4 – 12 2017

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

 

We imagined a collaboration where music, voice and movement are equally valued and which brings our artists and our respective audiences together in celebration of all the flaws, foibles and magnificence of the human condition.

Directors’ Note, Lindy Hume and Natalie Weir

 

It was an inspired decision by artistic directors Natalie Weir and Lindy Hume to join the forces of Expressions Dance Company and Opera Queensland in interpreting some of Mozart’s electrifying and beautiful arias and piano works.

The result, Mozart Airborne, opens QPAC’s newly refurbished Cremorne Theatre, a perfect space for this intimate and emotion-filled performance.

The six EDC dancers and six OperaQ singers (all recent graduates or alumni of the Queensland Conservatorium) perform pieces by six choreographers. The brilliant and expressive playing of pianist Alex Raineri, onstage throughout, is the heart of the performance.

The twelve pieces making up the program include a variety of music and combinations of performers, proceeding without a break for just over an hour. No narrative thread connects the pieces: rather, they present a variety of emotions and energies, likened by the artistic directors to an anthology of short stories. The choreographers were asked to interpret the music of the arias, and, while understanding the words, not necessarily literally interpret the text.

The order of the pieces and changes in mood keep the attention engaged. The building intensity of the final third of the program, culminating in the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem, provides an emotionally satisfying experience, resolving in the Lacrimosa’s final amen.

Choreographed by Natalie Weir for the whole cast, the Lacrimosa is solemn and unearthly. The shifting patterns and groupings of the ensemble evoke religious ritual. In repeated surges of movement, one dancer is lifted above the whole group, echoing the soaring music and the final appeal for mercy.

The performance opens with the limpid, poignant Fantasia in D Minor K397, also choreographed by Weir. To this solo piano work, the singers and dancers move across the stage, EDC’s Richard Causer seeming to observe the others as they pass by. His hands wind around each other as if he is trying to hold onto something.

Weir’s third piece, Là ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni, represents a flirtation between a man (dancer Jake McLarnon and baritone Samuel Piper) and a woman (dancer Elise May and mezzo-soprano Melissa Gregory). While the duo is playful, the exultant and passionate movement, with its spectacular lifts, matches the richness of the music and the voices.

Richard Causer has choreographed a riveting piece on Das Lied der Trennung K519. For tenor Dominic Walsh and dancer Michelle Barnett, it is about the anguish of two lovers forced to part. Walsh stands still, in a shaft of blue light, pouring out a stream of beautiful, heart-wrenching sound, while Barnett winds around him. The intensity and power of her movement within a restricted space compellingly convey grief and desperation.

Mozart Airborne is a very special experience. The concept of the collaboration between the two companies is beautifully realised, with total integration of the music and the movement—and of the dancers and the singers, whose movement and acting blended seamlessly. This performance made me oblivious to everything else, suspended in multiple expressions of Mozart’s sublime music.

19
Jul
17

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse

Opera Queensland

QPAC Playhouse

July 14 – 29 2017

 

Reviewed by Geoff Waite

 

Being a life-long fan of Gilbert and Sullivan after my introduction to their wonderful operettas as a high school lad performing in Trial by Jury, The Pirates of Penzance, and HMS Pinafore, and in later years The Mikado, I was excited to be attending Opera Queensland’s production of Ruddigore. Perhaps one of the least-known Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Ruddigore has not often been performed here, so this was a welcome opportunity to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.

 

While the original opening night of Ruddigore on 22 January 1887 was less than successful, after some modification it went on to be well accepted. Of all the G&S operettas, Gilbert later declared Ruddigore to be one of his three favourites, the others being Utopia and The Yeomen of the Guard.

 

 

In a satirical take on the Victorian Melodrama genre, Ruddigore’s farcical plot employs curses, witches, and disguises, and the intricacies of this bizarre and convoluted plot can be difficult to grasp.The Baronets of Ruddigore are subject to a terrible curse placed on them by a witch long ago – each of the successive Baronets must commit some kind of a crime every single day or they will die in terrible agony. Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the Baronet of Ruddigore, has been living as a farmer, Robin Oakapple (Bryan Proberts), for years, working up the courage to ask a beautiful village maiden, Rose Maybud (Natalie Christie Peluso), for her hand. Rose is also keen on Robin but as a woman she is bound by the etiquette of the day and cannot tell him of her feelings. In the village in which they live, a group of professional bridesmaids who are desperate to officiate at a wedding, any wedding, none having been celebrated for six months, are encouraging this union. Robin, who was supposed to have died but has been hiding in disguise while his younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Jason Barry Smith), assumed the title and the curse, is hiding the secret. His foster-brother, Richard Dauntless (Kanen Breen), a sailor, wins Rose’s ‘affection’ after undertaking to woo her on behalf of the timid Robin. Richard later reveals Robin’s existence to Despard, and Robin then must take his place and the responsibility of committing a crime every day in order to abide by the terms of the curse and continue to live. In the meantime, Mad Margaret (Christine Johnston) who has been driven to madness by her love for the lost Sir Despard Murgatroyd, has appeared and is reunited with Despard, who is now free.

 

 

In Ruddigore Castle, Robin (now Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd) has difficulty perpetrating suitably bad crimes, annoying his ancestors who emerge as ghosts from their portraits in the gallery to berate him. After complying with the direction of his uncle, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd (Andrew Collis) to abduct a lady from the village as a suitable crime, the lady abducted happens to be Dame Hannah (Roxane Hislop), Sir Roderic’s former love and fiancé. They are reunited in love. Robin then submits to Roderic that under the terms of the curse, a Baronet of Ruddigore can die only by refusing to commit a daily crime. Refusing would therefore basically lead to suicide, but suicide is itself, a crime. Thus he reasons, his predecessors “ought never to have died at all’. Roderic agrees with this logic and Robin is freed of the curse. All ends happily with the various couples together again.

 

 

From the light, bright opening, set in an outdoor tea-house by the sea and later in the dark depths of the Ruddigore Castle where the current cursed Baronet and his ancestors’ portraits dwell, the set (Richard Roberts) is nicely complemented by the lighting and effects of Andrew Meadows, giving a modern feel to a piece first performed in 1887, when one feels, the production would not have been so ‘light’. And a few modern terms thrown into the dialogue fit well. The emergence of the baronet ghosts from their portraits in the gallery is a special moment. The acting is tops and I particularly enjoyed the Frank Spencer-like attitude and reticence evident in Robin’s first encounter with Rose. As expected, the singing is exceptional, from leads and chorus alike, with The Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Roland Peelman providing exhilarating accompaniment with Sullivan’s music.

 

 

This is a comedy and much of the credit for the expression and impact of Gilbert’s libretto is due to the Director, Lindy Hume and her assistant and Choreographer, Rosetta Cook. The portrayal of Despard Murgatroyd and Mad Margaret as Salvation Army officers touting timbrels on their return to normal life is classic. And the extension of those timbrels to the whole cast for a rousing timbrel- shaking finale made a fitting end to a most enjoyable show that you should see.

23
Feb
14

Abandon WTF14

 

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

Abandon

OperaQ Studio & Dancenorth

Brisbane Powerhouse

Powerhouse Theatre

February 21 – 23 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

“A beautiful, thrilling collaboration…more than opera, more than dance – ‘Abandon’ threw you back into your seat before pulling you into its arms.”

 

Kris Stewart, Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director

 

 

Bodies fly, voices soar and emotions run riot in this visceral new dance opera experience.

 

Abandon is the critically-acclaimed collaboration between Dancenorth’s Raewyn Hill, Opera Queensland’s Lindy Hume and classical accordion virtuoso James Crabb. Hume and Hill co-devised and co-directed the work and virtuoso accordionist Crabb created bespoke arrangements to accompany the soprano, alto and bass voices, which he perform on stage, underpinning each character’s emotional journey. Raewyn created five solo works with Dancenorth dancers France Hervé, Bradley Chatfield, Erynne Mulholland, Alice Hinde and Andrew Searle.  At the same time, Lindy and James were working at the OperaQ Studio in Brisbane with singers Monique Latemore (soprano), Annie Lower (soprano), Elizabeth Lewis (alto) and Chris Richardson (bass), and cellist Teije Hylkema.

 

This is a unique production, so extraordinarily beautiful, which delves deeply into a specific form – the da capo aria form of musical composition – a form with a three-phase journey interpreting, analysing and exploring a single emotion in depth and complexity. Whether or not you’re familiar with the form, or with any or all of the arias from five of Handel’s operas – Tolomeo, Alcina, Acis and Galatea, Orlando and Hercules – the effect is extraordinary, bringing singers, dancers and musicians together on stage to reckon with the force of love and the loss of it.

 

The force appears to work largely on the diagonal, pulling and pushing the performers across the space, and across the floor, through “fragile” foam block walls constructed, and partially deconstructed by the performers, brilliantly designed for dancers by Bruce McKinven and lit by Bosco Shaw. (Are they foam blocks? They look like foam blocks). Raewyn Hill’s choreography creates stunning still and moving pictures. Incredibly physical, the movement is strong and raw, and it must require nerves of steel from the dancers as they thrust themselves backwards and forwards, literally throwing their bodies to the wind, as if they are propelled by something other worldly. Any fragility is reserved for solo work, and for the support of one another as the singers (operatically) croon in the centre of this incredible ensemble’s embrace.

 

Abandon

 

This production highlights the need for performers to be adept in multiple disciplines, adding to the overall production quality and making each area of expertise all the more exquisite. These singers can dance, baby! In evocative shapes and shadows, the singers’ gestures echo the dancers’ movements, while they’re singing, sitting or lying on the floor, and standing or hanging across other performers or pieces of wall. (Talk about being show-fit!). But not only that, they each have a distinct feel for the space, and for the edge of it, and for their place in it, much more so than many stage actors, and vocalists who are taught so often now (and forevermore I fear) to claim the space, find their light, and look to the camera… Away from the cameras, in live theatre, there is still that magical space between performers and audience. It almost becomes tangible in Abandon. The feeling that you can reach out and grasp it comes too from Alistair Trung’s deliciously spare and layered and textured designs; the blacks, greys and luscious red wine tones cling and fall and drape and reveal…sensible shoes. This is almost a complete wardrobe for anybody who lovingly embraces their awareness of the ways the body moves, though of course, those who spend more time in Noosa than anywhere else would require whites as well. As such, this is not an overly dark production, despite its costuming, its themes and its cries of woe, until the conclusion perhaps, when one individual finds a way (or the will) to leave, or meets his end.

 

BPH_WTF_Abandon_2_2014

 

It’s beautifully packaged emotion – the absolute extremes of the highs and lows of human existence – that drives the fluid movement and informs the rich voices. There are a couple of delightfully light moments, very funny, thanks largely to the comedic skills of soprano, Annie Lower, whose character work is evident (I look forward to seeing her as Musetta), and there are a few raw moments that really capture the joy, grief, loss, jealousy, self-loathing and self-destruction of an intense love affair, all supported by projected lyrics, which we’d seen as one complete wall of text upon taking our seats. This, and not its caricature, is the sort of opera/dance theatre I love to experience.

 

More of this please, so more of us can live life less ordinary more often.

 

29
Oct
12

Carmen

Carmen

Carmen

Opera Queensland

26th October – 10th November 2012

QPAC Lyric Theatre

 

Reviewed by Miss Lynnie

 

Music by Georges Bizet

Libretto by Meilhac and Halevy

Novella by Merimee

Artistic Director: Lindy Hume

Conductor: Emmanuel Joel-Hornak

Revival Director: Matthew Barclay

Carmen

American mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez as Carmen. Photo by Branco Gaica.

Free she was born, and free she will die!

Bizet’s iconic tale of passion unfolds when a fight breaks out at a cigarette factory in a Seville square, and Carmen – a gypsy – is arrested by the soldier Don José. Carmen quickly seduces him but like many before him, Don José’s attempts to tame the freedom-loving beauty are futile. His obsession with her turns to murderous rage when she leaves him for the famous toreador, Escamillo.

I wonder if Prosper Merimee’s short-story on which Bizet’s Carmen is based has been read since the romantic opera was first performed at the Opera-Comique, Paris, on 3 March 1875? Of all the oft-performed operas, Carmen surely contains the most convincing narrative structure and fully drawn characters who include not only a doomed but passionate hero, but a similarly fatalistically destined heroine. Perhaps we each like to think there is something of this in us ordinary mortals? Oh, but naturally we would forego Carmen’s stiletto knifing through the heart, and Don José’s imprisonment, or his suicide via the aforementioned stiletto.

Opera Queensland’s Artistic Director Lindy Hume has chosen an Opera Australia production, which in turn was based on a 2006 Covent Garden co-production with the Norwegian National Opera. It is, therefore, a ‘classic’ interpretation and is indeed, a venerable performance; so do not fear that this Carmen has undergone a modern rethink, or a restaging to set it in a particular epoch such as 1930s politically divisive Berlin, or the currently popular, politically incorrect 1950s era just to allow incorporation of the glorious and vibrant frocks. In this Carmen the wardrobe mistress fulfils our expectation of sexy Spanish damsels dressed in fitting bodices worn with skirts of many-tiered flounces, with muted pigments of browns and yellows and with only a touch of colour. It was actually a darkened, subdued setting all round, with the lighting designer (Paule Constable) choosing subtle illumination that cast rather wonderful shadows to all areas of the rusted-yellow earthen adobe walls that comprised the set. This archetypal Spanish set conceived by Tanya McCallin was simple but effective, except perhaps for the Smugglers Mountain Retreat in Act III, where a sort of shade sail roof was hoisted above the floor and strung hammock-like between the re-arranged adobe walls. It could have been another part of town rather than a remote mountain hideaway; fine if you’re intimate with and know the opera, or took time to read and recall the synopsis while taking in the show, but not so obvious to first-timers who may not have studied European partisan history.

 

Carmen

American mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez as Carmen. Photo by Branco Gaica.

 

 

Love’s a bird that lives in freedom

 

American mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chavez considers Carmen to be her signature role and has performed her Carmen from Japan to just about everywhere. Our Brisbane audience was delighted to have her captivate it as the rebellious, spirited, saucy, sparkling, uncaged bird. Kirstin plays a capricious beauty with flashing eyes and passionate, reckless emotions. Wouldn’t we all like to be like this?

 

Carmen

American mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez as Carmen. Photo by Branco Gaica.

 

Oh why did fate ever decree we two should meet!

 

laments a woebegone Don José. The devil has the best songs, but our guileless Don José has a couple of matchless tenor tunes. Is there a more heartfelt love tale set to music than La fleur que tu m’avais jeteé? He declares, “I was enslaved”. And so was I! Ukrainian tenor, Konstantin Andreiev, as Don José, is poetically handsome with flowing locks. He sings expressively with a soft, gentle and raw quality of sound. Andreiev’s acting skills allowed us to go with him in his deterioration from dignified and decent young man to a state of impassioned, obsessive jealousy. He was convincing both visually and vocally.  Konstantin has also performed absolutely everywhere. He is well cast in the romantic tenor role, and his Rodolfo (La Bohème) would be as pleasing as his Don José. It’s hard to imagine that he always loses the girl in these fables.

The gentle country maiden in Madonna blue, Micaela, played by Lecia Robertson, has two poignant songs that act as a counterpoint to Carmen’s voluptuous lustfulness. Micaela’s goodness and enduring love for Don José is expressed in their sweet duet, in which Don José recalls his attachment to his mother and his village. He is duty bound to marry Micaela, but unfortunately, Carmen desires him and she will make him her next lover.

As Escamillo, the toreador and Carmen’s latest conquest, José CarbÓ did not disappoint, especially in his rendition of the opera’s signature aria, ‘Votre toast je peux vous le rendre’. In this he was ably accompanied by the rousing Opera Queensland Chorus, which made a major contribution throughout and rounded out this production.

The Spanish essence of Carmen is embodied in the Flamenco dancing that particularly sets the gypsy scene with its rousing and bold statement.  The seven official flamenco dancers in the cast, particularly the men, provided an exciting accompaniment for Carmen to dance sensually, in keeping with her ravenous gypsy daring. She is a coquette, she dances.

Treatment of the finale is dependent on the interpretation of the director. While this production ends with Carmen and Don José left lifeless on the stage, with Escamillo’s triumph sounding from the adjacent bullring, some have Escamillo, Carmen’s new love, emerging victorious from the bull ring and glowing with triumph, ready to embrace Carmen but finding death instead – the Greek tragedy of Don José and Carmen.

The opera Carmen is a jewel of perfection. There are no dull interludes that linger or drift off until the next soaring aria. Bizet has created wonderful tunes sprinkled liberally throughout the dramatic story.  He has composed a heavenly gift to all; Opera Queensland does a fine job of his Carmen.

 

Carmen and Don Jose

American mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez as Carmen with Ukrainian tenor Konstantin Andreiev as Don José: Photo by Branco Gaica.

 

25
Oct
12

Carmen turns up the heat tomorrow night!

Carmen Opera Queensland

OPERA QUEENSLAND’S CARMEN SET TO TURN UP THE HEAT IN BRISBANE TOMORROW NIGHT

 

This is my favourite opera. It’s the first opera I ever saw and it’s the only opera I never tire of hearing or seeing.

 

Also, I feel sure I was Spanish in a previous life. OLE!

26 and 30 October, 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10 November 2012 – Lyric Theatre, QPAC

After five weeks of intensive rehearsals, Opera Queensland’s production of Carmen will take to the Lyric Theatre stage tomorrow night, Friday 26 October, for a seven-performance Brisbane season.

This spectacular production from internationally renowned director Francesca Zambello stars stunning American mezzo- soprano Kirstin Chávez as the free-spirited gypsy rose, a role she has performed to great acclaim around the world.

“Playing the role of Carmen is a very special privilege and one that I do not take lightly,” says Chávez. “She’s not a role like other opera roles. She tests my very limits physically and vocally. Each time I bring her to life, I give my all, and when the curtain comes down, I feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile and presented a worthy gift.”

Bizet’s iconic tale of passion unfolds when a fight breaks out at a cigarette factory in a Seville square, and Carmen – a gypsy – is arrested by the soldier Don José. Carmen quickly seduces him but like many before him, Don José’s attempts to tame the freedom-loving beauty are futile. His obsession with her turns to murderous rage when she leaves him for the famous toreador, Escamillo.

The soul stirring music of Carmen is some of the most familiar in all of opera. From Carmen’s rich and provocative Habanera and seductive Seguidilla to the rousing Toreador Song, the score is full of fiery Spanish rhythms and popular melodies.

Making his Opera Queensland debut, French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, leads an exciting cast of international and Australian artists including Ukrainian tenor Konstantin Andreiev as Don José, Australian-based Argentinian baritone José Carbó as Escamillo and soprano Lecia Robertson as Micaëla, with the mighty Opera Queensland Chorus and Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Carmen is one of the greatest operas of all time – and a feast for all the senses.

Performances: Evenings 7.30pm: 26 / 30 Oct and 1 / 3 / 6 November Evenings 6.30pm: 8 November

Matinee 1.30pm: 10 November

BOOK ONLINE

Sung in French with projected English translations. Running time – approximately two hours and fifty minutes including one twenty-minute interval.

This production is presented by arrangement with Opera Australia.

Carmen

23
Apr
12

Rachelle Durkin: Metropolitan Magic

In an Australian exclusive, New York based Metropolitan Opera soprano, Rachelle Durkin, will perform Metropolitan Magic for one night only on April 26th at berardo’s restaurant. Rachelle will be coming to Noosa after a month of performing the lead role of Violetta in La Traviata for Opera Australia’s critically acclaimed Opera on the Harbour extravaganza. The production will be screened on Foxtel’s STUDIO channel on Monday 30th April at 8:40pm.

She was last seen in Noosa on the big screen in December as the female lead in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Satyagraha (part of Noosa Cinema’s Opera at the Met season).

As well as performing with The Met over the past decade, Rachelle has performed internationally with Chicago Opera, Hawaii Opera, Lyric Opera of San Antonia, Bilboa Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bellingham Music Festival, Hong Kong Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall.

In Australia she has performed lead roles with Opera Australia, West Australian Opera and Opera Queensland as well as performing as a soloist with many of the state Symphony Orchestras.

Although a much lauded opera singer, Rachelle is equally at home performing cabaret and musical comedy numbers. Metropolitan Magic will not only feature some great opera classics but will also include a little Bernstein, Sondheim etc.

Co-starring with Rachelle will be Mark Coughlan, a highly respected concert pianist, accompanist, musical director and compere, who has performed in Europe, South East Asia & Australia, including a critically acclaimed solo Beethoven recital at Sydney Festival.

This concert heralds the fourth collaboration between the Zonta Club of Noosa, berardo’s restaurant and Philanthropy Initiative Australia in presenting evenings of world class music to raise money for Zonta funded projects.

Previous Zonta concerts at berardo’s have featured Jane Rutter, Taryn Fiebig, Sara Macliver and Andrew Foote and have successfully raised thousands of dollars for such charities as United Synergies and Birth Kits Foundation Australia. Once again, all proceeds from this concert will go to Zonta supported projects including Cooroy Family Support Centre.

Rachelle Durkin: Metropolitan Magic

April 26 at 6pm at berardo’s restaurant & bar

$95 includes 3 course dinner with glass of sparkling wine on arrival plus 2 x 45 minute sets

Bookings: Carole Tretheway of Zonta on 0414 713955


Noosa Food & Wine Festival 2011 from Source Media on Vimeo.