Opera Queensland reveals 2018 season

OperaQ Don Giovanni - images by Daniel Swerdlow & treatment by Stephanie Do RozarioOutgoing Artistic Director Lindy Hume has unveiled the 2018 season for Opera Queensland, her final program before she hands the reins to Patrick Nolan in November 2017.

The season includes two mainstage Brisbane productions – an old-school Hollywood glamour take on Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow starring much-loved Australian tenor David Hobson and effervescent soprano Natalie Christie Peluso, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, featuring rising international star Duncan Rock.

The 2018 season will also reveal a new collaboration with QAGOMA; an exclusive project with Brisbane Festival and an epic regional tour offering everyday Queenslanders the opportunity to perform in an opera.

Ms Hume said OperaQ had worked hard to forge its own path over the last six years, bringing the power and passion of opera to new audiences in novel ways. “In 2018 we will continue our journey, bringing exciting international names into the mix, offering grand operas as well as intimate experiences while showcasing our incredibly talented local and emerging artists,” said Ms Hume.

“From the Gold Coast to Longreach and Cairns, audiences from primary school kids to opera aficionados can enjoy grand opera and new collaborations in interesting, intimate venues, and even perform in a production.”

In June 2018, exquisite art deco design will come to the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, courtesy of The Merry Widow. This stunning new production, directed and choreographed by the acclaimed Graeme Murphy will see David Hobson (Count Danilo) and Natalie Christie Peluso (the Merry Widow) seduce the audience in a light-hearted tale of love, misunderstandings and hidden agendas.

They will be joined by OperaQ favourites Katie Stenzel, Jason Barry-Smith, Shaun Brown and Virgilio Marino, performing a new English Libretto by Justin Fleming, under the baton of Vanessa Scammell. With a dazzling set design by Michael Scott Mitchell, fabulous costumes by Jennifer Irwin, wonderful waltzes and an all-new star-studded cast, The Merry Widow is sure to be an audience-favourite.

In  June, audiences will be treated to Opera Romance – an evening celebrating two colourful careers in opera with tenor Rosario La Spina and soprano Antoinette Halloran. La Spina and Halloran, two of Australia’s finest operatic voices and longtime colleagues will share backstage stories and perform their favourite opera arias and duets. They will be joined by members of our Open Stage Community Chorus for this one-evening-only performance on the glamorous set of The Merry Widow.

In October 2018, Lindy Hume will direct a powerful new production of Mozart’s dark and dangerous opera Don Giovanni at The Playhouse, QPAC, with baritone Duncan Rock in the title role. Raised in Perth, Mr Rock has been making his mark on the world’s opera scene in recent years, including several successful outings as Don Giovanni.

Fresh from his Metropolitan Opera debut, Mr Rock will be joined by Queensland’s finest including Shaun Brown, Eva Kong, Virgilio Marino, Hayley Sugars, Katie Stenzel, Sam Piper and Andrew Collis, the Opera Queensland Chorus and The Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the renowned Johannes Fritzsch. An intense reimagining peppered with humour, Don Giovanni showcases Ms Hume’s uncanny ability to walk a tightrope between light and dark, and to take the audience on an unexpected journey.

Staying true to her legacy of investing in regional audiences and arts, in her final season for OperaQ Ms Hume has programmed another epic regional project, offering a chance for more than 100 aspiring singers in six Queensland cities to share the stage with OperaQ stars on a major tour.

In August 2018, Ms Hume’s critically-acclaimed, madcap production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse!, which premiered in Brisbane in 2017, will tour to the Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba, with the same star-studded cast – Bryan Probets, Christine Johnston, Natalie Christie Peluso, Kanen Breen, Jason Barry-Smith, Roxane Hislop and Andrew Collis.

OperaQ will put a call out for auditions in early 2018 to find more than 100 regional Queenslanders to perform in the regional Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse! choruses. Anyone interested can register and those who are successful will receive intensive training in singing, dancing and stagecraft. Project G&S will build on the success of Project Puccini in 2014 and Project Rossini in 2016 – which has resulted in more than 600 Queenslanders performing in front of their home crowds.

From large-scale regional tours to intimate productions in interesting spaces, the 2018 program is diverse and filled with surprises. In March 2018 OperaQ’s second collaboration with QAGOMA will give audiences the first hint of incoming artistic director Patrick Nolan’s themes of Classical, Contemporary and Future.

Mr Nolan will curate Reprise, a performance in response to GOMA’s Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images, the first major Australian exhibition of the hugely influential German abstract artist. Starting with Bach, with whom Richter has a special relationship, the production will move from a celebration of tradition to future gazing with a special commission from Australian composer Paul Grabowsky.

Ms Hume expressed her excitement about Patrick’s appointment and his upcoming production Reprise. “I am thrilled to hand the baton to Patrick Nolan at the end of the year.,” said Ms Hume. “His skills and reputation as an arts leader, and an opera, theatre and events director of international stature are ideal to lead our company and this extraordinary artform into the future. It’s also exciting that our audience will get a taste of what they can expect from Patrick early in 2018.”

In September 2018, OperaQ will get adventurous with a new and exclusive Brisbane Festival event featuring an international cast, but the company is remaining tight lipped about further detail until the festival launch mid-year.

For younger audiences, OperaQ will continue to tour its schools production of Hansel & Gretel, co-created with shake & stir theatre co, across Queensland. Brisbane audiences will be treated to a new OperaQ collaboration with Queensland Theatre’s Youth Program, producing new work based on Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

Season tickets for 2018 are now available. For more information, visit: www.operaq.com.au for details.

Image: OperaQ presents Don Giovanni – images by Daniel Swerdlow & treatment by Stephanie Do Rozario