Victorian Opera launches its 2016 Season with a vivid re-imagining of the Baroque in Voyage to the Moon, a new co-production with Musica Viva at the Melbourne Recital Centre until 19 February 2016, before touring nationally.
Based on Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso, Australian theatrical legend Michael Gow writes and directs the production, weaving together a ‘jukebox’ of both classic and obscure Baroque music with a musical score compiled by Baroque expert, the late Alan Curtis.
“The title echoes the first sci-fi film, Georges Méliès’ silent masterpiece Le Voyage dans la Lune,” says Gow. “Ariosto’s vast 16th epic Orlando Furioso is often mentioned as an early example of science fiction, because in Canto 34 the knight Astolfo travels to the moon to retrieve Orlando’s sanity. Librettists found in this great poem an almost inexhaustible source of characters, situations and themes for the Baroque operatic stage.”
Australia’s most adored soprano, Emma Matthews, makes her Victorian Opera debut starring alongside acclaimed mezzo Sally-Anne Russell and former Victorian Opera Developing Artist Jeremy Kleeman. The semi-staged production is designed by Christina Smith and Matt Scott (The Flying Dutchman) and showcases lavish period costumes.
Featuring the music of Vivaldi, Handel, Telemann, Gluck, Orlandini and de Majo, leading Australian chamber instrumentalists bring vitality to the score led from the harpsichord by Victorian Opera’s Head of Music Phoebe Briggs.
“Arias, ensembles and instrumental passages have been chosen from across the vast repertoire, handpicked for their expressive and emotive content,” says Briggs. “New text in English was created and recitatives were written to link the musical items and advance the drama of the storyline. The chamber orchestration of the work creates a varied and colourful soundscape and adds a lush and florid layer to the vocal fireworks.”
Gow’s libretto recounts a tale of loss, love, madness and friendship. The great warrior Orlando (Emma Matthews), has lost his lover and now his mind. His friend the brave knight Astolfo (Sally-Anne Russell), is guided by the mysterious Magus (Jeremy Kleeman) to the moon – home to many of earth’s lost things including Orlando’s wits. They must confront Selena – The Guardian of the Moon (also performed by Emma Matthews), in order to save their friend.
Following its world premiere season at the Melbourne Recital Centre, the production will tour nationally with performances in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Adelaide until 12 March.
Voyage to the Moon
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall – Melbourne Recital Centre, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season continues to 19 February 2016
Bookings: (03) 9699 3333 or online at: www.melbournerecital.com.au
Image: Sally-Anne Russell and Emma Matthews star in Voyage to the Moon – photo by Jeff Busby