August 16, 2013


Opera Australia’s winter season continues to thrill audiences.  Their latest production of Verdi’s La Traviata at Sydney Opera House had the audience stamping their feet and clapping their hands in enthusiastic appreciation.

La Traviata tells the tale of popular courtesan Violetta.  In true operatic tragic tradition, Violetta is dying of consumption but a young man, Alfredo, admires her from afar and at a party declares his feelings for her.

Violetta, torn between her life of freedom and the promise of true love, sings her famous aria, Sempre libera, calling love “the torment and delight of my heart”.

La_Traviata_SW13_37_Fotor_20130816Choosing a life with Alfredo and moving to the country, Violetta has been selling her possessions to fund their lifestyle.   After Alfredo discovers this, he travels to Paris to obtain some alternative money.  While Alfredo is gone, his father Giorgio Germont arrives and begs Violetta to leave his son, lest she destroys the entire family’s reputation.  Violetta agrees, for the sake of Alfredo, and writes him a farewell letter.  Alfredo is heartbroken and furious.

Over three acts, the dramatic tale unfolds as to whether Alfredo will learn of Violetta’s undying love before she succumbs to her illness.

Australian soprano Emma Matthews performs the lead role of Violetta, joined by Polish tenor Arnold Rutkowski as Alfredo in his Opera Australia debut and baritone José Carbó as Giorgio Germont.   Komische Oper’s Principal Conductor Patrick Lange conducts.

A new fun event for opera goers at interval is the installation in the Northern Foyer of a mock La Traviata set.  Complete with chaise lounge and armchairs, audience members can take pictures of themselves posing on the “set”, then send the images via facebook, tweet and instagram.  What a great way for audience members to engage with their friends and spread the word about opera.

Sandra Tiltman 


August 16, 2013

Spirit-Kathy-Marika. Photo credit Danielle Lyonne

Australia’s premier national Indigenous performing arts company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, under the inspirational artistic direction of Stephen Page, has been recognised by the Australian arts industry with four awards for their outstanding artistic achievements.

July 29 saw Bangarra receive two Helpmann Awards at the Sydney Opera House ceremony.  Dancer Deborah Brown was awarded the Helpmann for Best Female Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre Work for her performance in the 2012 work Terrain.  Frances Rings, who choreographed Terrain, also received the Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work.  Artist in residence, David Page, was nominated for Best Original Score for Terrain.

On August 1, Bangarra performed at the inaugural Australian Arts in Asia Awards which recognise Australian artists who have engaged with Asia and who have contributed to strengthening cultural links between Australia and Asia.  Bangarra received an award in the Dance category for their production Spirit and its recent tours to Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam.  They shared this award with Annalouise Paul for Game On.

Artistic Director Stephen Page said, “These awards are a wonderful affirmation for the company that we are achieving artistic excellence while we pursue the equally important role of building connections.  Whether Bangarra is performing on stage at the Sydney Opera House or a theatre in regional Victoria, running an indigenous youth workshop in remote New South Wales or presenting a performance for brand new audiences in Vietnam, the high quality of our work is what helps create meaningful engagement.  During our recent South Asian tour of Spirit, audiences were fascinated by Bangarra’s fusion of traditional culture with modern dance theatre.  There was an instant connection with the spiritual, grounded nature of Bangarra’s work and they understood the story-telling that strongly influences our productions.”

Lastly, at the annual Australian Dance Awards in Canberra, Shane Carroll received the Services to Dance Award.  Over the last two years Shane Carroll has overseen the development and implementation of Bangarra’s new youth program Rekindling, designed to connect Aboriginal young people with their culture through story-telling and dance.

Sandra Tiltman 

Picture Credit:   Kathy Marika in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Spirit – Photographer Danielle Lyonne.