September 30, 2014

magic-flute-ss15-brochure-highresOpera Australia is following up on their recent success in building audiences, with a program of popular masterpieces in their 2015 summer season.

Renowned Scottish director, Sir David McVicar, will bring a dramatic intensity from the theatre to his opera work, when directing his celebrated gothic production of Faust, first performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

La bohème opens at Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve, with additional performances in January. Gale Edwards sets Puccini’s emotional music in the streets of 1930s Berlin, amid the colourful chaos of street fairs and burlesque bars, fairylights and fishnet stockings. Hear Metropolitan Opera star Maija Kovalevska sing the role of Mimì. The production will also feature Mexican tenor Diego Torre, as well as local favourites Lorina Gore and Andrew Jones. Conducted by Andrea Molino.

The Magic Flute opens on 2 January with Emma Matthews making her debut as The Queen of the Night in this version created especially for families. Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s famous pantomime is full of colourful, larger than life puppets, enchanting stilt walkers and fantasy characters. It’s a great introduction to opera for people of all ages. Conducted by Anthony Legge and stars Samuel Dundas, Taryn Fiebig and Daniel Sumegi

Tosca, a gripping drama, tells the story of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances who has found true love in a time of war and secrets, but the powerful Scarpia desires her for his own. John Bell’s spectacular and dramatic telling of Tosca returns to Sydney on 13 January and runs until 17 March. Starring international artists Amanda Echalaz, Riccardo Massi and Claudio Sgura, with Italian Conductor Andrea Battistoni.

Madama Butterfly is one of the world’s most famous love stories. A woman capable of great love, a man transfixed by exotic beauty get swept up in Puccini’s rousing music as the opera progresses from love to wonder, to hope and at last despair. Directed by Moffatt Oxenbould and starring international soprano Alexia Voulgaridou and Australian tenor James Egglestone. Conducted by Gianluca Martinenghi, Madama Butterfly opens on 27 January and runs until 18 March.

Faust sees two stars of Australian opera making their role debuts in this timeless opera about temptation and redemption. Teddy Tahu Rhodes plays the alluring yet debauched devil, leading the hero astray, while Nicole Car is the embodiment of beauty as the innocent, desirable Marguerite. Conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire, Faust opens on 17 February and runs until March 13.

The annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour will present the grandest of all operas when Verdi’s Aida brings the spectacle of Ancient Egypt to the water-top stage. Directed by Gale Edwards, Set & Costume Designs by Mark Thomson, Conducted by Brian Castles-Onion and features international artists Latonia Moore and Daria Masiero alternating in the title roles opposite Roberto Aronica and Arnold Rawls as Radamès. Aida opens on 27 March and runs until 26 April.   Sandra Tiltman




March 18, 2014


Mrs Macquaries Point on Sydney Harbour has been transformed for this year’s spectacular production of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Opera Australia’s modern adaption of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly will run for only 20 performances under the stars at 7.30 pm, from 21 March to 12 April 2014. Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Sandra Tiltman with alternating Butterflys

Sandra Tiltman with alternating Butterflys

With a distinctly modern feel such as American naval officer Pinkerton being represented as a property developer, as well as one of Madama Butterfly’s most striking costumes featuring a full-body tattoo, this production is sure to excite those who have previously seen a more traditional version of the opera performed.

The Madama Butterfly company comes from eleven different countries, with two principal casts alternating performances, led by Hiromi Omura and Hyeseoung Kwon as Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly). It takes 626 cast, crew, musicians and production staff to stage the show.

This year the stage is 12m larger, resulting in a 44m x 29m performance space, undulating to mimic the hills of Japan and features a full bamboo garden. For the first time, the stage is designed to become an extension of the Royal Botanical Gardens itself, utilising 1279sqm of artificial turf. The show will feature two inflatable orbs to represent the sun and the moon. The sun orb will have its own barge to give the impression it is rising from the Harbour.

Madama Butterfly comes to Sydney Harbour 110 years after it was first performed at La Scala in Milan, Italy.   Sandra Tiltman      

Photos: John Pond


August 31, 2013

DSC00038Puccini’s ever popular opera, Madama Butterfly, has been selected as the 2014 Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, with Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, making the official announcement at Sydney Opera House recently.

One of the world’s most unique and spectacular outdoor events will return to its previous location in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.  The stage will be set in the harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the backdrop.

Opening on 21 March 2014, this production of Madama Butterfly will be a modern retelling of Puccini’s tale of love and honour. With a dynamic moving set, including an enormous full moon, it will play nightly for an exclusive three week season.

A world class creative team and cast has been assembled for Madama Butterfly, including internationally renowned director Alex Ollé, one of the six artistic directors of La Fura dels Baus, one of the most innovative and prestigious theatre companies in the world.

Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura is cast in the lead role as Cio-Cio-San and returns after great success in the title role at Sydney Opera House in 2012. Alternating in the role will be Korean soprano Hyeseoung Kwon. International tenors Georgy Vasiliev and Andeka Gorrotxategi will make their Australian debuts as they alternate as Pinkerton, the American naval officer who romances Madama Butterfly

DSC00040Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said “La Fura Dels Baus is a creative powerhouse and we are thrilled with the spectacular new production their team is bringing for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s Madama Butterfly.

We have some superb international singers joining us here in Sydney for what has become the cultural event of the year and we are very appreciative of the support of the NSW Government and Destination NSW in helping us deliver this in 2014. We also thank Dr Haruhisa Handa’s organisation, the International Federation for Arts and Culture, for its generous investment in our vision for an opera event like no other.”

After the success of the two previous Handa Operas, La Traviata (2012) and  Carmen (2013), it is exciting to see that the third opera chosen is a crowd favourite. Madama Butterfly on Sydney Harbour will hopefully bring a new audience of first time opera goers to enjoy this spectacle, to be performed in such a unique and beautiful setting.

WORDS & PICTURES:    Sandra Tiltman