Artistic Director & CEO Patrick Nolan announced Opera Queensland’s packed 2021 season program at last Saturday evening’s glittering Opera Queensland Under the Stars concert at the Brisbane Riverstage.
Mr Nolan revealed Season 2021 would be anchored by major productions of Lorelei, The Marriage of Figaro and Aida playing to full houses at QPAC venues. He also announced an expanded OQ Studio Series, rescheduled dates for the inaugural Festival of Outback Opera and the premiere of Are You Lonesome Tonight – Opera Queensland’s most significant regional tour to date, travelling 6000km to visit more than 25 communities.
“Season 2021 heralds a welcome return to the main stage for Opera Queensland – and a return to full audience capacity – after COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works of our 2020 program,” said Mr Nolan. “Despite some major disruptions, Opera Queensland continued to deliver the joy and wonder of opera to audiences across the state and beyond with An Aria A Day and a live concert series once restrictions eased.”
“In total, Opera Queensland produced 167 online performances of An Aria A Day, staged nine live concerts – seven of which sold out – and provided employment for more than 330 artists. While these achievements alone are worthy of celebration, Opera Queensland also chalks up a milestone birthday in 2021. We’re 40 and fabulous and we’re inviting everyone to join the party,” said Mr Nolan.
Opera Queensland launches its 40th season with Lorelei – a contemporary reimagining of a traditional myth combining cabaret, burlesque and opera at QPAC’s Concert Hall from 6 to 13 March, 2021. “Lorelei was scheduled to open our 2020 season and we are delighted audiences have another opportunity to see this fun, new Australian work, sung in English, with its original cast of Ali McGregor, Antoinette Halloran and Dimity Shepherd,” said Mr Nolan.
Hilarity meets unbridled tension in The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s comedy for the ages performed at QPAC’s Playhouse from 15 to 31 July 2021. Rising stars Sofia Troncoso and Jeremey Kleeman shine alongside soprano Eva Kong and baritone José Carbó in this cheeky tale of friendship and devotion, directed by Mr Nolan.
Capping off 2021’s mainstage program is Verdi’s blockbuster Aida, co-produced with Opera Australia and playing QPAC’s Lyric Theatre from 3 to 19 November 2021. New digital staging technology and opulent costumes combine to create a visually sensational production featuring Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan in the title role.
Are You Lonesome Tonight is a celebration of opera and country music drawing on the histories of both genres to tell a story about love, yearning and life on the road. Arias by Puccini and Verdi will sit alongside songs by Paul Kelly and Dolly Parton in a cabaretstyle touring production that plays to 25 Queensland communities from 4 May to 16 June 2021.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight is a centrepiece of our 40th birthday celebrations, covering almost 6000km across the length and breadth of our state, combining two great musical styles and stamping itself as the most significant regional tour in the company’s history,” said Mr Nolan said.
The bold new production bookends the ambitious multi-region Festival of Outback Opera, bringing opera to communities in Longreach, Winton, Barcoo, Barcaldine, Blackall and Tambo over 10 days in late-May. The inaugural Festival begins with Singing in The Night – a series of concerts in Longreach and Winton presented in partnership with Camerata, Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra.
The acclaimed OQ Studio Series returns with vigour in 2021, offering singers and audiences a rare encounter with the art of song in the intimate space of the Opera Queensland Studio. In a coup for the company, soprano, composer and artistic director Deborah Cheetham AO makes her Opera Queensland debut with her Studio Series recital, Songs My Mother Sang to Me from 19 to 20 March 2021.
Also making her debut with the company is Indigenous performer, composer and singersongwriter Jessica Hitchcock who brings her charismatic stage presence and performance versatility to the Tivoli in Songs that Made Me on 12 September 2021 as part of Brisbane Festival.
Opera Queensland will reach more Queenslanders than ever before with an expansion of Sing Sing Sing in 2021. Artists will lead the social sing-along at Emporium Hotel South Bank’s Piano Bar, the new home of Sing Sing Sing, on the last Wednesday of every month while Virtual Sing Sing Sing sessions will stream into homes across the planet via Zoom on 18 March, 13 May, 17 June and 15 October 2021.
A dedicated schools and youth program will nurture a lifelong learning and love of song for all ages including a series of classical, contemporary and choral youth workshops from 12 to 13 April and 27 to 28 September 2021.
Opera Queensland partners with shake & stir theatre co. to stage The Frog Prince with an energetic cast of young performers introducing primary-aged students to composers such as Mozart, Rossini and Bizet from 22 to 25 September 2021.
The two companies collaborate again to stage Puccini’s La bohème, an exploration of how young people cope with the uncertainty and pressures of today’s world, for secondary school students from 24 to 25 September 2021.
Opera Queensland’s commitment to diversity and authentic storytelling is boosted in 2021 with the leading arts company implementing its new Disability Action Plan and Reconciliation Action Plan, including the employment of a First Nations Artist Consultant.
“We are thrilled to be launching our Disability Action Plan in 2021, creating opportunities for our company to work with artists from a diverse range of abilities,” said Mr Nolan. “Our work with First Nations artists and communities is going to be a vital part of Opera Queensland’s operations over the coming years.”
“We see both of these relationships as central to the work we create and the audiences we are building,” Mr Nolan added.
Opera Queensland will continue to monitor the advice of health experts and liaise with relevant industry authorities, now and into Season 2021, to meet ongoing COVID Safe guidelines. Subscriptions to Opera Queensland’s Season 2021 are now on sale. Single tickets on sale early 2021. For more information, visit: www.oq.com.au for details.
Image: Opera Queensland 2021 Season (supplied)