Opera Australia presents a rare and exciting opportunity to experience a chamber opera in an intimate setting this week when it premieres a new production of Australian composer Brian Howard’s Metamorphosis in an all new location; the Scenery Workshop at The Opera Centre in Surry Hills.
Based on Franz Kafka’s engrossing tragedy of a man-turned-insect, Howard’s score, coupled with a libretto by Steven Berkoff, transforms the novella into an opera that is riveting, shattering and morbidly fascinating theatre.
In a bespoke transformation and for the first time ever, OA will convert the massive Scenery Workshop where all its sets and props are built, into its newest performance space and fill it with the music of one of Australia’s leading composers. The workshop setting will add an edgy intensity to Howard’s opera. Led by conductor Paul Fitzsimon, twelve musicians will be centre stage and six singers will perform literally just metres from the audience.
Director Tama Matheson together with designer Mark Thompson’s creative talents embrace this makeshift environment to tell the story of social alienation in a modem, inhumane world. “Metamorphosis is an incredibly dynamic tale – one that can’t be buried. It is the ultimate in strange, alienating, dreamlike, and horrifying musings in modern life,” says Matheson.
The premiere of this new production presents not only a chance to hear a rarely performed Australian opera, but also to marvel at the extraordinary talent of some of the country’s most exceptional singers, and the pure wonder of the operatic voice up close and personal.
Baritone Simon Lobelson will make both his Opera Australia and role debut in this production, performing the part of Gregor; a young man who, exhausted by the relentless demands of his work and family, awakes one morning to find himself unexpectedly transformed into a grotesque insect-like creature. Mr Lobelson will star alongside a celebrated line up of Opera Australia principals including Christopher Hillier, Taryn Fiebig, Adrian Tamburini and Benjamin Rasheed.
Unexpectantly, Tabatha McFadyen has stepped into the role of Greta when it became clear that soprano, Julie Lea Goodwin, who was scheduled to play the role, would be unable to sing as she is suffering from a severe throat infection. Ms McFadyen was participating in Opera Australia’s observer program for young directors and had not formally rehearsed to take on the role.
“We are disappointed for Julie – she is a fantastic artist and we wish her a speedy recovery, but I’m thrilled that the phenomenally talented Tabatha McFadyen is able to step in to support this wonderful ensemble cast,” said Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini.
Director: Tama Matheson Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon Featuring: Simon Lobelson, Christopher Hillier, Taryn Fiebig, Tabatha McFadyen, Adrian Tamburini, Benjamin Rasheed, Opera Australia Orchestra Soloists Set & Costume Designer: Mark Thompson Lighting Designer: John Rayment
Scenery Workshop – The Opera Centre, Dawson Street, Surry Hills
Season: 26 – 29 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au
Image: Simon Lobelson in Opera Australia’s 2018 production of Metamorphosis at The Opera Centre Scenery Workshop – photo by Prudence Upton