The Turk in Italy

OA The Turk in ItalyWith its cartoonish sets and candied costumes, Simon Phillips’ hilarious production of The Turk in Italy makes a triumphant return to the Sydney Opera House this August.

Rossini’s operas are much-loved for their wit, energy and infectious pace and The Turk in Italy is no exception. Bringing together dancing, deceit and delightful confusion, this is a sure-fire recipe for a side-splitting operatic feast that comes alive with Rossini’s distinctively charming music.

Rising Australian soprano Stacey Alleaume, who dazzled audiences in The Merry Widow earlier this year, makes her role debut as Florilla, her first leading lady role in a main-stage production. An emerging star who started her career in Opera Australia’s Schools and National Touring productions before being accepted into the OA Young Artist’s Program, Stacey has been championed by Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini, who sees a very bright future ahead of the young soprano.

“This is a brilliant production filled with dazzling designs, wonderfully colourful music, and some of the best operatic and comedic performers, including our very own Stacey Alleaume,” said Terracini. “Stacey is a fantastic young Australian performer and we are thrilled to be showcasing her exceptional talent in Sydney this winter.”

Joining Stacey on stage is Italian bass-baritone Paolo Bordogna who won audiences over in the 2014 production, and is back to show why he is one of the world’s most celebrated buffo performers. Baritone Warwick Fyfe is well-known for his extraordinary attention to detail, and will no doubt bring his all to his role debut as the luckless Geronio.

Rounding out the dynamic cast is Italian/Australian tenor Virgilio Marino, with baritone Samuel Dundas and mezzo Anna Dowsley reprising their roles with gusto. Under the baton of Italian maestro Andrea Molino, who is known for conducting the most complex operatic scores from memory, this all-star cast will delight opera novices and experts alike.

One of the most stunning elements of the production has to be the extraordinarily delicious set and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova. With its 1950s gelato colours atop shimmering green grass in a Dr Seussesque quirkiness, this is a production bursting with retro colour and charm.

A masterfully playful set design which features a clever revolve that spins between the café and the residence sets a raucous scene for hilarity, confusion and mayhem. With a chorus that have far too much fun in their costumes – from all manner of swimsuits and bikinis, to pirates, Turkish sailors and Elvis and Marilyn lookalikes – the boisterous picture is complete.

And as if that’s not enough, the cherry on top of this gelato-coloured treat is Simon Phillips’ translation of the libretto. Romani’s already ticklish script has been given a decidedly Aussie update. For those who haven’t seen an opera before, this will turn everything they thought they knew about the form on its head.

Gioachino Rossini was only 21 when he wrote his smash hit, The Italian Girl in Algiers (1813). The opera was such a success that the young and ambitious composer could not help himself – he had to write the sequel! The Turk in Italy opened at La Scala in Milan just one year later.

The premise was similar: two pairs of lovers cavort, introduce a clash of cultures for added colour and chaos ensues! What is amazing about the work, is that unlike many sequels, it is genuinely different to its predecessor, packed full of musical and dramatic invention.

As former Artistic Director of both State Theatre Company of South Australia and Melbourne Theatre Company, Simon Phillips is one of Australia’s leading musical theatre, opera and drama directors. His production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has enjoyed seasons in Australia, Broadway and London’s West End.

Among his many classical productions are The Tempest, Julius Caesar, A Comedy of Errors and The Importance of Being Earnest all toured nationally in Australia. Phillips’ opera credits include La Bohème, Falstaff, L’Elisir d’Amore and Lulu for OA; The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni for Opera New Zealand; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Billy Budd for Hamburg State Opera.

Conductor: Andrea Molino Director: Simon Phillips Revival Director: Andy Morton Featuring: Stacey Alleaume, Virgilio Marino, Warwick Fyfe, Paolo Bordogna, Samuel Dundas, Anna Dowsley, Graeme Macfarlane, Nicholas Jones, Opera Australia Chorus, Opera Australia Orchestra Set & Costume Designer: Gabriela Tylesova Lighting Designer: Nick Schlieper

The Turk in Italy
Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 10 August – 1 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au

Image: The Turk in Italy – courtesy of Opera Australia

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