Operabase Home

Opera Australia - Reviews
Sydney City, Australia

| Company
Musical Works

Upcoming Production Reviews


Aida, Verdi

D: Davide Livermore
C: Lorenzo Passerini
Cast: Natalie Aroyan, Elena Gabouri, Diego Torre, Conal Coad, Dean Bassett, Michael Honeyman, Jennifer Black, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Alexander Vinogradov
Opera Australia heads back to Egypt with a new production of Verdi's epic

It would seem Opera Australia’s artistic director Lyndon Terracini has got an idea about what the future of grand opera might involve: slick, digital sets made up of high definition LED panels. Opera Australia’s new production of Aida uses ten massive, stage-filling screens that slide in and out of place and spin, creating a captivating cinematic experience that fuses live performance and video. Italian director Davide Livermore is clearly of the opinion that “more is more” and has created a production that undoubtedly succeeds. There are endless sparkles, gold gilding on just about every surface, huge headdresses and some of the loudest singing (and I mean literally, in decibels) I’ve ever heard in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. He absolutely leans into the melodrama of the piece with all his staging and choreography.

read more
www.timeout.comBen Neutze

Past Production Reviews


Don Giovanni, Mozart

D: David McVicar, Warwick Doddrell
C: Guillaume Tourniaire, Paul Fitzsimon
Cast: Andrii Kymach, Yuri Kissin, Juan de Dios Mateos, Cathy-Di Zhang, David Parkin, Andrew Williams, Bronwyn Douglass, Jane Ede, Sophie Salvesani, Celeste Lazarenko

“Bronwyn Douglass’s focussed and fiery Donna Elvira is a force to be reckoned with… she commands the stage space in any scene with a pointed purpose. Her precise, fluid tone matches her character’s gutsy but ill-fated plight. Douglass is a fine anchor with regards to vocal blend in ensemble moments. In the trio singing when hunting the libertine Don Juan, she creates shimmering soundscapes… Her window scene and trio (‘Ah taci ingiusto core’) with the soon to be switched Leporello and Don Giovanni is beautifully shaped. The trajectory of her comic-tragic character are always delivered with verve and perfect dramatic timing.”

read more
09 January 2023sydneyartsguide.com.auPaul Nolan

Salome, Strauss

D: Gale Edwards
C: Johannes Fritzsch
Cast: John Pickering, Jacqueline Dark, Cheryl Barker, John Wegner, David Corcoran, Sian Pendry, Kanen Breen, Andrew Brunsdon, Graeme Macfarlane, John Longmuir, Richard Anderson, Shane Lowrencev, Luke Gabbedy, Richard Anderson, Andrew Moran
Salome | Opera Australia

The central scene is the famous dance of the seven veils. It is basically a strip-tease, and so Edwards transports us to Kings Cross, where two brilliant dancers (not named in the programme) dance out male sexual fantasies about women – pole dancers, French maids, scantily clad nuns, etc. This somewhat postmodern stepping out of the narrative works very well, supported by Strauss' surprisingly un-dance-like music, and make it clear that the dance is not just for Herod, but for all the men, misogynist or otherwise, in the audience.

read more
14 October 2012www.australianstage.com.auNicholas Routley

Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart

D: David McVicar, Andy Morton
C: Guillaume Tourniaire
Cast: Paolo Bordogna, Andrew Jones, Stacey Alleaume, Julie Lea Goodwin, Andrei Bondarenko, Shane Lowrencev, Ekaterina Sadovnikova, Jane Ede, Anna Dowsley, Richard Anderson, Dominica Matthews, Benjamin Rasheed, Kate Amos, Andrew Moran, Graeme Macfarlane, Phoebe-Celeste Humphreys, Anna Whitney
Opera Australia's The Marriage of Figaro: review

...while the Russian soprano Ekaterina Sadovnikova is a glorious Countess, plumbing the depths as her philandering husband chases every piece of skirt within reach.

read more
www.google.comSue Williams
McVicar's The Marriage of Figaro lights up the Opera Australia stage

The moments of gorgeous female singing, though, were not limited to Alleaume. Ekaterina Sadovnikova sang the Countess with remarkable clarity and assurance in line and phrasing. Her Countess had a patient poise – a wonderful contrast to Alleaume’s light-footed Susanna – creating a touching depiction of a dignified woman struggling under the weight of her husband’s infidelity.

read more
21 October 2019bachtrack.comChantal Nguyen

Die Zauberflöte, Mozart

D: Michael Gow
C: Paul Fitzsimon
Cast: Jonathan Abernethy, Nicholas Jones, Christopher Hillier, Anna Dowsley, Steven Gallop, Sam Roberts-Smith, Hannah Dahlenburg, Anna Yun, Stacey Alleaume, Benjamin Rasheed, Emma Castelli, Andrew Moran, Hannah Dahlenburg
Music review: The Magic Flute, by Opera Australia

I confess that I had misgivings about Opera Australia translating Die Zauberflöte into what appeared in the promotional material to be a performance fusing influences from Indiana Jones, Crocodile Dundee and Australia. I love the traditional costumes and sets and the fine meshing of the German libretto with Mozart's musical notions. And would a touring company have singers with the necessary technical expertise, assured comic timing and the stagecraft to do justice to the Opera – (or Singspiel as it was known in Mozart's time)?

read more
05 September 2014www.smh.com.auJennifer Gall
The Magic Flute on Tour

This last – and quirkiest – of Mozart’s operas has always been the ideal vehicle for introducing opera to the young and the young at heart. This production – adapted, translated into English and directed by playwright Michael Gow – certainly makes the most of the comic aspects of librettist Schikaneder’s story and characters and the correspondingly magical fun that Mozart had with the music. And though the adaptation – and some of the local idioms in the translation – may not appeal to opera ‘purists’, Christopher Lawrence’s words in the program notes suggest that this is as it should be: “The Magic Flute’s great achievement is to have positioned itself as part of the vernacular furniture from day one”.

read more

L'elisir d'amore, Donizetti

D: Simon Phillips, Andy Morton
C: Benjamin Northey
Cast: Rachelle Durkin, Aldo Di Toro, Andrew Jones, Christopher Hillier, Conal Coad, Eva Kong
Opera review: The Elixir of Love, Opera Australia, Arts Centre Melbourne

THIS one’s an absolute fair dinkum cracker of an opera. Since Simon Phillips directed a new production of The Elixir of Love for Opera Australia in 2001, nothing has rusted away in this corrugated iron-clad vision of Donizetti’s comic gem under revival director Matthew Barclay. The ubiquitous corrugations, the sounds of bleating sheep, whinnying horses, squawking galahs, barking dogs and mooing cows give the two-act opera a true-blue, Aussie-baked flavour. It is one of Opera Australia’s most inventive and entertaining productions and it milks the comedy to the hilt. Phillips seamlessly slips the original 18th century Basque setting somewhere into rural Australia in 1915. From start to finish it’s a rollicking good ride, as his own surtitled Aussie lingo translation indulges while the cast sing Romani’s original Italian libretto with gusto.

read more

Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart

D: Michael Gow
C: Simon Kenway
Cast: Suzanne Shakespeare, Christopher Hillier, James Egglestone, Olivia Cranwell, Steven Gallop, Kristen Leich, Agnes Sarkis, Andrew Jones
The Marriage of Figaro

I encountered this production in Dandenong last year, at the start of another tour of the country. With another invitation to review, I thought it might have been a new production, but it wasn’t, and many of the performers were retained.

read more

La traviata, Verdi

D: Elijah Moshinsky
C: Tahu Matheson, Renato Palumbo
Cast: Stacey Alleaume, Irina Lungu, Alexander Sefton, Ji-Min Park, Mario Cassi, Agnes Sarkis, Celeste Haworth, Iain Henderson, Richard Anderson, Andrew Moran, Danita Weatherstone, Jin Tea Kim, Jonathan McCauley, Malcolm Ede, Liparit Avetisyan, Luke Gabbedy, Alexander Hargreaves, Tomas Dalton
Elijah Moshinsky's chocolate box Traviata is back Opera Australia

Opera Australia has served up its current production of La traviata for, astonishingly, almost thirty years – and it's easy to see why. Directed by the late Elijah Moshinsky (and revived by Warwick Doddrell), it’s a traditional, well-crafted chocolate sampler box of an opera, designed to provide a pleasing and easily ingested night out. Its great strength is its lavish Belle Époque setting. Michael Yeargan’s sets boast a no-expenses-spared attention to detail, with the Act 1 and 2 salons so richly decked you can almost hear the velvet chatting across the pearls to the brocade. His sets are cleverly designed to hint at a larger, bustling society outside. There are expressively-angled corridors, hints of antechambers and dining rooms hidden behind drapery and grilles, unseen front gardens, and a portion of a giant skylight (Nigel Levings’ lighting design) by which we catch glimpses of ornate gilt stencilling. Peter J Hall’s costumes are equally beautiful, using rich jewel-toned fabrics edged in lashings of fine jewellery. Moshinsky's team were reportedly inspired by Impressionist artwork, and that textured, vivid aesthetic covers the whole performance in a romantic painterly sheen. So far, so good. The production, though, needs a charismatic and well-matched cast to rise above mere confectionary status, and I’m not sure the chemistry quite got there. Our Violetta was sung by the Russian soprano Irina Lungu. Her Violetta is a glamorous creature who wears a performative façade as shiny as her pearls, a coquettish mask seemingly constructed from years of experience and necessity. There was even one moment in Act 1 when, caught in her first passionate embrace with Alfredo, she seems to break the fourth wall and wink at the audience. It’s a different interpretation from Opera Australia favourite Stacey Alleume’s warm and natural Violetta (in July's casting), but will please audiences who like their soprano arias served with diva glitter on the side. Lungu leans into showing off an almost knowingly flamboyant coloratura, which perhaps explains why her vibrato became a bit too wide for my liking at times, sometimes veering into shaking jaw territory. However, she has a mature ease with the role borne from a lot of experience, and a wonderful power at the top and bottom ends of her range – the high notes were clean and assured firecrackers of sound. Opening night’s Alfredo was the Melbourne tenor Tomas Dalton, a last-minute replacement for Ji-Min Park. Dalton has a smooth, gently mellow voice and characterised Alfredo as a baby-faced, lovesick puppy – one got the impression of a wide-eyed private school boy who’d only recently learnt to shave. There were pitching issues throughout, but Dalton deserves credit for stepping into a big role at the last minute. We got a glimpse of his full theatrical capacity in the Act 2 finale, when his father’s reproach sends him into a tailspin. I would have liked to witness more of Dalton at that emotional dial, and look forward to seeing him channel that capacity in future performances. The real standout for me was the Western Australian baritone Luke Gabbedy, as Giorgio Germont. He sung with a penetrating brightness to his vocal resonance, had an enunciation that was refreshingly clear but never overdone, and his phrasing demonstrated an assured understanding of Germont’s arias. Gabbedy was a good theatrical match for Lungu (more equal in energy than Dalton), and their duet “Morrò! La mia memoria” was a plaintively poignant high point. Opera Australia often cast supporting roles very well, and this Traviata was no exception. Celeste Haworth reprised Flora with her usual handsome singing and stage charm, backed by very fine vocal and theatrical performances from Iain Henderson, Alexander Sefton and Andrew Moran (Gastone, Baron Douphol, and the Marquis d’Obigny respectively). Danita Weatherstone, Richard Anderson, Jin Tea Kim, Jonathan McCauley and Malcolm Ede were all noticeably good as the supporting “downstairs” cast of the lady’s maid Annina, Dr Grenvil, Giuseppe, and the messenger and servant. The Opera Australia chorus were also a highlight. Musically on form, they seemed to be having the time of their lives (especially in Act 2’s witty tambourine dance) and charmed their way through every act – they made you really want to join the party. A final shoutout goes to the Opera Australia Orchestra under Tahu Mattheson’s baton. The upper strings sounded unusually thin at times, but were balanced by wonderfully mellow lower strings and brass. All in all, this is a very handsome, pleasant night at the opera. While not everyone can feel satisfied on sampler chocolates alone (no matter how nice the packaging), it will gratify audiences looking for that familiar, traditional operatic fix.

read more
25 October 2022bachtrack.comChantal Nguyen

Satyagraha, Glass

D: Andy Morton
C: Tahu Matheson
Cast: Shanul Sharma, Rachelle Durkin, Olivia Cranwell, Agnes Sarkis, Richard Anderson, Richard Anderson, Sian Sharp, Alexander Sefton, Andrew Moran

Shanul Sharma, performing the role of Gandhi, had a captivating element to his voice – a sense of romantic heroism that followed through to his performance, presenting a princely interpretation of the well-known historical figure

read more
16 May 2023www.artshub.com.auJenna Schroder

There was an ethereal quality about tenor Shanul Sharma’s interpretation of Gandhi, especially in his solo that brought the performance to a close; his voice gently shimmered like the dark, embroidered tunic he had changed into (having previously sported a creamy linen suit).

read more
15 May 2023limelightmagazine.com.auPatricia Maunder

Pigmalion, Rameau

D: Crystal Manich
C: Erin Helyard
Cast: Taryn Fiebi, Lauren Zolezzi, Samuel Boden, Morgan Balfour, Richard Anderson, Lauren Zolezzi, Samuel Boden

RAMEAU: ANACREAON & PIGMALION, Pinchgut Opera at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, 15-20 June 2017. Photography: above - l-r Lauren Zolezzi, Taryn Fiebig and Samuel Boden; below - Taryn Fiebig and Richard Anderson Pinchgut artistic director Erin Helyard can be relied upon to do something unusual or unexpected and he’s exceeded expectations with this triple bill. It introduces audiences for the first time to the live experience of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Anacréon followed by the intermezzo Erighetta e Don Chilone by Leonardo Vinci and, in the second half of the program, by Rameau’s Pigmalion. Dating from the mid-1700s, they clearly show us the difference between the French and Italian styles of the time, which caused much wrangling among contemporary audiences and now – you choose. For me Rameau is a sublime master of multiple soloists and harmonies. His music is elegant yet full of colour and emotion and as sung by Taryn Fiebig, Lauren Zolezzi, Richard Anderson and Allegra Giagu in Anacreon, then with Samuel Boden in Pigmalion, it made Vinci’s jolly romp-with fart joke worth its place as the flatulence in the musical sandwich. Director Crystal Manich, with set designer Alicia Clements and Melanie Liertz (costumes), ingeniously devised a way to link the three. The setting is an upscale art gallery where swanky benefactors’ events take place; think the Met Museum Gala transposed to crinolines rather than transparent boob tubes. The setting – tall and Enlightenment simple – suits the City Recital Hall and the predominant set and costume colours of icecream pastels is reflected in the blond wood interior: sumptuous and effective even as racks of costumes are wheeled on and off stage and the performers dress and re-dress for each piece. There is also some slyly symbolic work with giant picture frames that plays with “the look” and”the gaze” in a witty and post-modern (!) way. All this busyness successfully carries singers and audience through the more static elements of Anacréon in particular and also adds to the intimacy of opera that’s now virtually lost in the present day penchant for grandeur. The over-arching themes of life and art and imitations of both are deliciously played out, with the Orchestra of the Antipodes led by Erin Helyard out front and sounding both unified and energetic, and when joined by the chorus, often rapturously magnificent. Such a treat! The singers, of course, are among the best. Soprano Taryn Fiebig takes on three different roles with equal power and élan and is also one of the funnier actors in opera. Her final turn as the “statue” in Pigmalion is breathtaking as she finds a bell-like clarity and purity that lifts her performance into the ravishingly memorable. Memorable too as Cupid in both the Rameau pieces, London-based Australian soprano Lauren Zolezzi’s debut in Sydney makes one hope she’ll be back before too long. Like Fiebig, she isn’t afraid to act and as a former ballet dancer, she has the moves too and can do it all while singing with charm, agility and power: major talent on the rise and already recognised in the UK. As Anacreon (and Don Chilone) baritone Richard Anderson has the necessary dramatic and vocal presence both as a drunk and a high society patriarch – some might think it a natural combination – and he’s excellent in both roles. Samuel Boden is at the other end of the vocal scale, as Pigmalion, and his agile and intricate tenor is a judiciously placed and delightful instrument. In supporting roles, Allegra Giagu and Morgan Balfour not only held their own but also added to the vocal richness of the evening. Giagu has developed into a strong and confident performer whose Wife of Anacreon is poignant and beautifully sung, while Balfour makes every moment of his role as the Sweeper count. A terrific company, intelligently utilised. Pinchgut Opera is a vital and increasingly important part of Sydney’s fine music life as the company brings to audiences the kind of work, voices and new/old revelations many crave. Unless you read this before tonight (Tuesday, 20 June) you’ve missed this production. Fair warning: Pinchgut’s Coronation of Poppea by Monteverdi opens on 30 November, directed by Mark Gaal.

read more
20 June 2017www.stagenoise.comDIANA SIMMONDS
Disconnected dégustation: Pinchgut Opera's Anacréon and Pigmalion

Erin Helyard, Artistic Director of Sydney's Pinchgut Opera Company, is one of the most dynamic thinkers in the world on the subject of Baroque and early Classical opera. The 15-year-old Company has now presented 18, often unknown, works from that era, challenging audiences with their delightful difference from the works being presented in the Sydney Opera House – much Mozart, Verdi and Puccini. So this dégustation – an appropriately French word applied by Helyard to this triple bill consisting of two actes-de-ballet by Rameau and a commedia dell'arte intermezzo by Leonardo Vinci, was probably as close as most of us are going to get to being in the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris in the 1750s. Two problems, though. Whereas the outrageous combination of serious French works discussing topical issues and frothy Italians offering nothing but entertainment was a matter of such controversy in Paris that the Académie was filled night after night, we are just a little less engaged by an argument about the relative importance of love and wine, or a philosophical disquisition on consciousness as Pigamlion's statue comes to life. Secondly, the musical delights of Rameau's harmonies and Vinci's lyricism that pre-figures Mozart were all too often interrupted between the performers and our ears by an almost incomprehensibly busy staging. I can't imagine why American director Crystal Manich felt the need to impose an overarching narrative on the three distinct stories. Pigamlion's pretty familiar (especially when spelled with a Y, though Rameau resisted), even if the Enlightenment significance of the statue's first words, “What do I think? What must I believe?”, followed by her proclamation of a soul certainly distinguished this text from My Fair Lady. And who amongst us took on board that the eponymous Anacreon was actually a Greek BC poet famous for his graceful writings on love and wine who's lust for life lead to fear of aging? But as Rameau's librettist, Pierre-Joseph-Justin Bernard, brought all those subjects into play so lightly, did we need the crowding of a contemporary art gallery opening – showing, oddly, 19th-century art – a drunken collector and a team of constantly moving attendants? It made it so much harder to understand the sudden transformation of party-goers into Bacchic devotees, and for a plaited schoolgirl to become Cupid to bring the collector back to his senses from an over-indulgence in the wine. However, Lauren Zolezzi emerged as the star of the night in that role – popping up later (and older) to bring life to Pigmalion's statue. This UK-trained soprano also has a Fellowship in Movement Direction, which allowed her to make ballet with her arms without looking the slightest bit immoderate, even as her perky singing brought Richard Anderson's art collector back from his drunken dreams to his wife's arms. Counter-intuitively, they then all toasted this reunion. Anderson was then given an ex-wife to fall in love with in Erighetta e Don Chilone. In fact, Vinci offered the widow Erighetta a rich but hypochondriac (and flatulent) bachelor, already attracted to her, but reluctant to commit because of his “imminent demise”. Taryn Fiebig, in a commedia doctor's mask, soon prescribes marriage to a mature woman as Don Chilone's only possible cure. And within minutes, as herself, she's negotiated a contract promising free running of the house. All is well. Well, well-enough for Fiebig (who, coincidentally, played Eliza Doolittle for Opera Australia last year) to mutate into marble and fall resonantly in love (again) with her creator – the agile English haute-contre tenor, Samuel Boden. Not much haute in his music and not great power in the voice; but he may have been distracted by the fact that everyone around him suddenly deserted their contemporary dress for racks of 18th-century outfits in order to dance. We certainly were distracted. Meanwhile, the band played on. It was an impressive transition by the historically informed Orchestra of the Antipodes from last year's Haydn and Handel to French music that so closely allies its rhythms to its language. Their languid tones as Anacreon falls asleep were followed by a torrent of demisemiquavers in contrary motion as a storm awakes him. A luscious flute holds Lauren Zolezzi's lively gyrations in balance. And the mellifluous combination of bassoon and recorder in Pigamlion's swinging overture was probably as radical a piece of orchestration in 1748 as it was a delight on the ear today. Leading from the harpsichord, Erin Helyard made the point in interviews that 18th-century audiences had as short-term attention spans as today's – requiring dances, debate and (in the boxes) sex between short bursts of opera seria. But this would surely be preferable to offering confusions and distractions during the music.

read more
16 June 2017bachtrack.comJeremy Eccles

La Bohème, Puccini

D: Andy Morton
C: Brian Castles-Onion
Cast: Iulia Maria Dan, Maija Kovalevska, Ho-yoon Chung, Paul O'Neill, Julie Lea Goodwin, Samuel Dundas, Christopher Tonkin, Richard Anderson, Christopher Hillier, John Bolton Wood, John Bolton Wood, Simon Gilkes, Douglas McRae, James Olds
Wintery Paris settles enchantingly on Sydney Harbour for Handa and Opera Australia's La bohème

With bright ideas, solid voices and drama sewn with pathos that doesn’t let a bag of spectacular effects overwhelm it, the outdoor experience of Opera Australia’s La bohème makes for a memorable and enchanting night out on Sydney Harbour. Generously backed by Dr Haruhisa Handa and his International Foundation for Arts and Culture - with the NSW government well onboard an annual event that has lured more than 300,000 attendees over its now seventh season - the stakes are high to deliver a thrilling night that ticks umpteen boxes for a broad cross-sectional audience. It would seem that the magic formula has well and truly proven itself. It’s an immense and superbly-organised affair that shares the art form with a mix of passion and unapologetic splendour and one that warmly connects first-timers and returnees alike. And if money’s to be made, we’ll see it trickle with the spirit of generosity through all levels of the art form. Correct? At the core of La bohème is passionate new love, hope against the odds and the unquestioning generosity of heart amongst friends. In Andy Morton’s first time in the director’s chair - after assisting on five previous harbour spectaculars - the work gleams with overall integrity, fortunately capturing the intimacy and strain between the leading lovers when and where it demands. In this case, it’s the 1960s. Morton updates Puccini’s four-tableaux acts set in Paris’ 1830s Latin Quarter to more than a century later in the same district during the turbulence of the student riots, specifically, 1968.

read more
04 April 2018operachaser.blogspot.comOperaChaser

Platée, Rameau

D: Neil Armfield
C: Erin Helyard
Cast: Cheryl Barker, Nicholas Jones, Peter Coleman-Wright, Nicholas Jones, Cathy-Di Zhang, David Greco, Kanen Breen, Adrian Tamburini, Adrian Tamburini, Cathy-Di Zhang
Masterpiece of the Morning After

Something happens at the end of Pinchgut Opera’s “Platée” that lifts this production from brilliant to moving. It’s a brainwave of director Neil Armfield’s that should be concealed from those who may yet see this production – the Australian premiere season of Rameau’s 1745 opera – at Sydney’s Angel Place Recital Hall or yet purchase the forthcoming digital release. Blink and you might miss it but it’s a detail that has the potential to take your breath away.

read more
14 December 2021operawire.comGordon Williams

Madama Butterfly, Puccini

D: Alex Ollé, Susana Gómez
C: Donato Renzetti
Cast: Raffaele Feo, Corinne Winters, Saimir Pirgu, Angelo Villari, Adriana Di Paola, Andrzej Filończyk, Pietro Picone, Luciano Leoni, Raffaele Di Florio, Sharon Celani, Marika Spadafino, Claudia Farneti, Arturo Espinosa, Francesco Luccioni, Daniele Massimi
A Transgressive Butterfly GIUSEPPE PENNISI was in the audience in Rome

The second opera on the billboard of Teatro dell'Opera di Roma's summer season is Puccini's Madama Butterfly. I was in the audience at the first performance on 16 July 2021, a windy evening that threatened thunderstorms. This is neither a new production nor a revival but a re-staging of a production seen at the Baths of Caracalla in 2015 adapted to the different conditions, especially the huge stage. The theatre was very full as the production, already revived in 2016 at the Baths of Caracalla, had been a huge success whose memory remained alive to the inhabitants of Rome.

read more
19 July 2021www.classicalmusicdaily.comGiuseppe Pennisi

La traviata, Verdi

D: Elijah Moshinsky, Richard Jones
C: Emmanuel Plasson, Simon Kenway
Cast: Cheryl Barker, Joanna Cole, Anson Austin, Ding Yi, John Bolton Wood, Peter Coleman-Wright, Warwick Olney Fyfe, Kerry Elizabeth Brown, Rosemary Gunn, Richard Alexander, Michael Saunders, Graeme Macfarlane, Sally McHugh, Jin Tea Kim, John Antoniou, Didier Frederic, Christopher Bath
La Traviata, Opera Australia

On January 13, 2001, La Traviata opened, with a starry cast, led by the artistic director and Verdi specialist, Simone Young. Three years later, almost to the day, the curtain goes up on the same, gloriously bedecked Parisian salon, with a new cast and no Young.

read more
16 January 2004www.smh.com.auThe Sydney Morning Herald

Cavalleria rusticana, Mascagni

D: Damiano Michieletto
C: Antonio Pappano
Cast: Dimitri Platanias, Egor Zhuravskii, Mattia Olivieri, Dimitri Platanias, Aigul Akhmetshina, Elena Zilio, Aleksandra Kurzak, Aleksandra Kurzak, Roberto Alagna, SeokJong Baek
Kurzak and Alagna bring long-awaited star power to Michieletto’s Covent Garden Cav & Pag

Damiano Michieletto’s Olivier Award-winning productions of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci were premiered in 2015 and then put on again in 2017 but not since. Here they were splendidly revived by former Jette Parker Young Artist Noa Naamat and continue to justify that Olivier! The nineteenth century was ending, and audiences turned from Wagner’s gods and heroes to embrace post-Verdian verismo with its stories that reflected real-life happenings. The birth of this movement came with the premiere of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana in Rome on 17 May 1890. It was soon twinned with Leoncavallo’s 1892 Pagliacci and together they caused verismo to sweep Europe influencing many diverse art forms. New York’s Metropolitan Opera first paired the works in 1893 and they were first seen together at Covent Garden the following year except the order we are used to today was reversed. The Cav & Pag double-header soon proved as popular as the regularly performed Puccini operas or genuine Verdi masterpieces in the affections of opera lovers, though recently they have fallen somewhat out of favour. Before Michieletto’s staging of Cav & Pag they had not been performed together by the Royal Opera for more than 25 years. From around that time I have some exhilarating memories of Plácido Domingo (Turiddu/Canio), Giuseppe Giacomini (Turiddu), Jon Vickers (Canio), Pauline Tinsley and Josephine Barstow (as Santuzza) and Piero Cappuccilli (Alfio/Tonio); several sadly no longer with us. Perhaps a reassessment of the operas is overdue and what Michieletto does with them can only help.

read more
10 July 2022seenandheard-international.comJim Pritchard
La commedia è finita: a scorching Cav & Pag at Covent Garden

La commedia è finita (almost). Former Prime Minister Theresa May was in the house for its Cav & Pag double bill, an evening of bitter feuds, betrayal and murder. Michael Gove reportedly left before curtain-up. It’s been a fraught few weeks in Floral Street. There have been more cast reshuffles in this Royal Opera revival than Boris Johnson’s cabinet of late: Anita Rachvelishvili out, Ermonela Jaho out, Jonas Kaufmann missing the first two performances and deciding not to sing Canio when he does get on stage. At one point, Kaufmann’s replacement in Pagliacci bowed out of the first two nights as well. It was the Alagnas who rode heroically to the rescue. Aleksandra Kurzak took on the roles of Santuzza and Nedda (thereby requiring an acting double because Damiano Michieletto has each character silently appear in the intermezzo of the other’s opera) and Roberto Alagna sang Canio. And as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana, we had SeokJong Baek who had already come off the subs’ bench, to excellent effect, in the recent Samson et Dalila.

read more
06 July 2022bachtrack.comMark Pullinger

Whiteley, Kats-Chernin

D: David Freeman
C: Tahu Matheson
Cast: Leigh Melrose, Julie Lea Goodwin, Kate Amos, Ruth Strutt, Ruth Strutt, Dominica Matthews, Richard Anderson, Nicholas Jones, Nicholas Jones, Gregory Brown, Annabelle Chaffey, Alexander Hargreaves, Tomas Dalton, Jonathan Alley, Ryan Sharp, Brad Cooper, Celeste Lazarenko, Sitiveni Talei, Angela Hogan
World Premiere
Whiteley: an opera about Sydney, its people, and one extraordinary artist

Kate Amos was frank and subtly defiant as daughter Arkie, unprotected from her father’s excesses, singing with fine edge and unexpected strength.

read more
16 July 2019amp.smh.com.auPeter McCallum
Opera Australia's Whiteley brings together 3 icons to tell the artist's complicated story

Their daughter, Arkie, was played by two different singers:….while Kate Amos demonstrated a highly flexible soprano as the older Arkie.

read more
18 July 2018theconversation.comDavid Larkin

La traviata, Verdi

D: Constantine Costi
C: Brian Castles-Onion
Cast: Stacey Alleaume, Jessica Nuccio, Rame Lahaj, Paul O'Neill, Michael Honeyman, José Carbó, Celeste Haworth, Andrew Moran, John Longmuir, Gennadi Dubinsky, Danita Weatherstone
Review: La Traviata on Sydney Harbour

“Rame Lahaj (...) radiates unbridled passion across the water.”

read more
29 March 2021www.timeout.comStephen A Russell
Opera Australia 2021 Review: La Traviata

“As Alfredo Germont the Kosovar tenor Rame Lahaj perfectly conveyed the naiveté of a very young man who would fall heedlessly in love with a society woman, oblivious of the extent to which she lives off the generosity and sexual needs of wealthy benefactors. His duet with Alleaume towards the end of the opera, when they are trying to delude themselves into re-imagining a happy future in Paris (“Parigi, o cara“), was striking in the contrast of vocal color between them: Alleaume clearly conveyed the ravages of a mortal disease as Lahaj bloomed in oblivious full health.”

read more
11 April 2021operawire.comGordon Williams

La traviata, Verdi

D: Elijah Moshinsky, Tama Matheson
C: Renato Palumbo
Cast: Lorina Gore, Rame Lahaj, José Carbó, John Longmuir, Shane Lowrencev, Luke Gabbedy, Richard Anderson, Tom Hamilton, Jonathan McCauley, Anna Dowsley, Natalie Aroyan, Jin Tea Kim
Plush costumes and lavish sets make up for musical shortfalls in Opera Australia’s La traviata

“In his Australian debut, Rame Lahaj cut a dashing figure as Alfredo Germont. Not only is his voice strong enough to carry far into the back of the auditorium, it is also smooth and flexible enough to deliver the nuances of his wildly fluctuating moods. Reaching his high notes with ease and holding firmly on to them, he deftly handled a variety of inflections and finely honed phrasing. Expressive without being melodramatic, neither did he overplay his hand.”

read more
10 July 2015bachtrack.comAlan Yu
Opera Australia: La Traviata review [Sydney 2015]

“Hailing from Kosovo, Lahaj is the most exciting Alfredo seen locally since Gianluca Terranova in the inaugural Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. A terrific actor, Lahaj charts the full emotional journey of Alfredo, from ardent admirer to impassioned lover, through to his brutish anger and subsequent shame and sorrow. Despite his striking looks, Lahaj clearly conveys Alfredo’s shy awkwardness at first meeting Violetta. His countenance changes as a dark storm cloud overtakes Alfredo’s logic, which then melts away with as deep regret takes over […] Possessing a rich, luxurious voice, Lahaj moves easily from middle to upper register with equal strength. If there are fleeting moments when his pitching is not quite accurate, it may well have be due to opening night nerves, which will soon dissipate as the season progresses. Combined with his charismatic presence, and his clear enjoyment of being on stage, the tone and lustre of Lahaj’s voice portent a very exciting future […] The perfect choice for newcomers, long-term operagoers will also enjoy and appreciate this season of La Traviata for the thrilling debuts of Gore and Lahaj.”

read more

Madama Butterfly, Puccini

D: Alex Ollé
C: Brian Castles-Onion
Cast: Hiromi Omura, Mariana Hong, Anna Yun, Georgy Vasiliev, Andeka Gorrotxategi, Michael Honeyman, Barry Ryan, Graeme Macfarlane, Gennadi Dubinsky, Victoria Lambourn, Celeste Lazarenko, Sitiveni Talei, Simon Meadows, Adam Player
Opera Australia's modern take on Butterfly causes a flutter

The opera Madama Butterfly will boast a giant sun, 20 metres in diameter, rising out of Sydney Harbour, as well as a large moon for a night of passion.

read more
18 February 2014www.smh.com.auSteve Dow

La Bohème, Puccini

D: Gale Edwards, Hugh Halliday
C: Carlo Montanaro, Pietro Rizzo
Cast: Mariangela Sicilia, Greta Bradman, Ji-Min Park, Ho-yoon Chung, Arthur Espiritu, Taryn Fiebi, Julie Lea Goodwin, Christopher Tonkin, Andrew Jones, Richard Anderson, Shane Lowrencev, Graeme Macfarlane, Adrian Tamburini, Tom Hamilton, Clifford Plumpton, Malcolm Ede, Benjamin Rasheed
La Boheme review: Death becomes her

“Mariangela Sicilia sang Mimi with an adroitly controlled and flexibly coloured voice, bringing sweetness and variety to the love confession of the first act.”

read more
01 January 2017www.smh.com.auPeter McCallum