Victorian Opera launches a season of fables, fairy tales and legends in 2017, with a season of rarely-heard gems, wonders of the 20th century and operatic masterpieces. From a fantastical history of the courtesan and concubine with Meow Meow, a charming puppet opera, to star sopranos Jessica Pratt and Greta Bradman together in a Bellini concert, Victorian Opera offers a season united by captivating storytelling and thrilling opera.
“Victorian Opera’s 2017 Season is a meditation on the notion of how we view reality and the way we can reflect on the real through story, particularly magical stories that are removed from the normal world,” says Artistic Director, Richard Mills. “Each of the productions we’re staging is not about everyday life at all. It’s about something that is above and beyond everyday experience, in which the normal forces that shape our daily life are no longer valid.”
“This gives us freedom both to look at ourselves and our relationships in a way that is not possible in ordinary time. Each production has a very specific musical language that creates this magical world or other kingdom.”
International chanteuse and cabaret star Meow Meow opens the 2017 season in a new work for Victorian Opera exploring the fantastical history of the concubine and the courtesan in ’Tis Pity: An Operatic Fantasia on Selling the Skin and the Teeth for four performances only at Melbourne Recital Centre: 4 – 8 February 2017.
Following 2015’s sell-out production of Seven Deadly Sins, Meow Meow is reunited with director Cameron Menzies. The creative duo will work together with Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills, who will compose and conduct the production. Mills, Meow and Menzies are currently writing the new work.
The transformative power of love takes centrestage as Victorian Opera reawakens a charming puppet retelling of The Sleeping Beauty in a new production at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse: 11 – 18 March 2017. Italian composer Ottorino Respighi’s 1922 opera will be given the kiss of life from acclaimed director Nancy Black, returning to Victorian Opera following Master Peter’s Puppet Show and Four Saints in Three Acts. A cast of the country’s brightest opera singers will lend voice to stunningly crafted puppets designed by leading Creature and Puppet Designer Joe Blanck (Walking with Dinosaurs, King Kong).
Glittering star soprano Jessica Pratt continues her close association with Victorian Opera and appears as Amina in a concert staging of Bellini’s beloved bel canto opera La Sonnambula at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on 5 May 2017. National treasure Greta Bradman makes her debut with Victorian Opera as the meddling inn-keeper Lisa, and in his first Australian performance, grand Italian basso cantante Paolo Pecchioli joins the cast as the ‘other man’, Count Rodolfo.
Melbourne audiences will hear the forest come alive in one of the great operatic masterpieces of the early 20th century, Leoš Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen in a new production at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse: 22 June – 1 July. Director Stuart Maunder AM is reunited with Tony Award-winning designer Roger Kirk following their acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2015. Cunning Little Vixen will also mark the company debut of Sydney Chamber Opera’s Artistic Director Jack Symonds, who will conduct Jonathon Dove’s chamber orchestration of the work.
In one of the most exciting theatrical offerings in 2017, Victorian Opera and Malthouse Theatre present the Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs’ cult musical fable, The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets. The production will be performed at Merlyn Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse: 15 September – 8 October 2017.
An enviable line-up of Australia’s most cherished ‘enfants terribles’ star in the production, including Kanen Breen (Sweeney Todd, Banquet of Secrets), Paul Capsis (The Threepenny Opera) and Meow Meow (Seven Deadly Sins). Malthouse Theatre’s Artistic Director Matthew Lutton takes the helm as director with musical direction from Victorian Opera’s Head of Music Phoebe Briggs.
Children can delight in the Australian premiere production of Ernst Toch’s 1927 operatic rendition of Han Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse with three performances of this Family Opera on Saturday 25 March 2017.
Eighty years after Aaron Copland’s gripping youth opera premiered in New York, The Second Hurricane makes its Victorian Opera debut as the company’s Youth Opera in October 2017. Part of the company’s Education Program, it will be performed by a cast of singers aged 15 – 25 together with students from Victorian Opera’s Youth Chorus Ensemble (VOYCE).
Victorian Opera gives insight into the process of developing a new Australian opera with live-streamed event Three Tales, together with ensemble Plexus and composers Stefan Cassomenos, Dermot Tutty, Katie Noonan and Zac Hurren on October 27. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen is revisited in a new work from Gordon Kerry and John Kinsella, commissioned specifically for Wodonga.
In partnership with The Australia Council for the Arts and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Victorian Opera also heads to Hobart as part of an ongoing commitment to staging opera in Tasmania. Following its season at Arts Centre Melbourne, Respighi’s The Sleeping Beauty will be the first production to travel south.
Membership packages are now available. Single tickets go on sale Thursday 13 October 2016. For more information, visit www.victorianopera.com.au for details.
Image: Meow Meow to star in Tis Pity: An Operatic Fantasia on Selling the Skin and the Teeth (supplied)