Opera Australia Sydney 2016

Opera Australia has announced its 2016 season for Sydney as follows:

Mainstage productions

Summer season

1.Magic Flute – shortened for children.
2.La Bohème

These revivals look like becoming annual summer fixtures.

3. The Pearlfishers (new production, to be directed by Michael Gow) – 2 casts, 17 performances.

4. The Barber of Seville – revival of now venerable Yeargan/Moshinsky production – personally I would prefer the intervening Gaudi-esque production from a few years ago which disappeared without a trace – I’m not quite sure why.

5. Luisa Miller – new (for Sydney) production, brought in from Lausanne. Welcome rarety for the cognoscenti, continuing the Verdi-Schiller streak.

Winter season

6.  Carmen – new production, 18 performances scheduled. That makes a total of 35 performances of works by Bizet in this season. At least OA is giving Puccini a relative spell. Imported rising stars for Don Jose and Carmen for front end of run.

7. The love for three oranges – 8 performances – revival of rarety. Distinctly in-house cast though I suppose you can no longer count Kanen Breen in that category.

8. Cosi fan tutte – final instalment of McVicar/Mozart-da Ponte trilogy; 8 performances. Charles Castronovo brought in as big-name tenor attraction.

9. Simon Boccanegra – 9 performances; Verdi rarety (rare for Sydney at least).

Non-opera/mainstage performances

10. The Rabbits – at the sometime Sydney Theatre – a run in summer of this Australian work, new to Sydney, aimed (I think) primarily at children. This has had an enthusiastic reception though I suspect an element of local boosterism.

11. The Eighth Wonder re-titled as Sydney Opera House – The Opera, possibly reworked and remounted outside in the forecourt of of the Opera House. 5 performances. Good luck to Alan John and Dennis Watkins, but this really looks like one for the tourists.

11. My Fair Lady – to be directed by Dame (swoon at the title) Julie Andrews in a 60th anniversary revival. Otherwise not even cast yet. Clive Paget in Limelight in a generally oleaginous write-up of the season (or do I just mean gushing? definitely he’ll be asked back) has said that the announcement of this has been greeted with squeals of delight. Maybe by some. Not by me. Can it be that CP has not been here long enough to remember that OA put MFL on as recently as 2008 touring (from memory) into 2009? Starts on 30 August and runs for 79 performances by my count in Sydney alone. At least it is a musical which can employ some of the opera orchestra – not sure about the chorus.

12. The Handa opera on the harbour is Turandot.

Marketing material emphasises that you can spend as little as $196 subscribing to as few as three operas and then get in for the subscribers’ booking period for next year’s Melbourne Ring.

My view

(So far as not already expressed above)

Now that Opera Australia bookends its year with summer populist revivals and a musical starting at the end of August, the remaining mainstage mix – 3 in summer and 4 in winter, is probably as good as can be expected.

Terracini has thrown the cognoscenti a bone with the Verdi relative obscurities; the MacVicar Cosi bodes well judging from the cycle so far; the Prokofiev is welcome though I would have preferred something more meaty from either Czech or Russian repertoire; new productions don’t really justify the excess of Bizet; the short season means there is no room for German repertoire (ie even Beethoven, or Weber, Wagner, Strauss, Berg, to confine the list to composers in OA’s repertoire – the butchered Magic Flute doesn’t count).

I am indifferent to the choice of musical so it matters not to me that MFL seems such an unadventurous selection. If we want Julie Andrews why not just have Sound of Music sing-alongs at the State Theatre?

I doubt if I will sign up for the Melbourne Ring. OA’s internationally hiked prices and booking shenanigans and Australian accommodation prices combine to make it a relatively unattractive proposition. It would probably be cheaper (or only marginally more expensive) and definitely more fun to fly to Berlin next June or in April-ish 2017.

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