Victorian Opera reveals 2023 season

Victorian Opera has launched its 2023 season, bringing together the classic and the contemporary in a program brimming with splendour and spectacle.

In his last year at the helm, outgoing Artistic Director Richard Mills AM has curated a diverse and defiant line-up that includes a world premiere First Nations work set against the backdrop of the First Fleet’s arrival, a fresh take on Idomeneo that is sure to make a splash and a brand new production that examines the fortunes of one of the world’s greatest thinkers composed by Mills himself to close out the year.

Across eight shows, season 2023 will feature two world premiere works, a fully-realised new Mozart stagingvisiting international guests, acclaimed homegrown talent in concert and a suite of emerging voices and storytellers.

And in a poetic final handover, Mills will compose and conduct 2023’s closing production, the world premiere Galileo, alongside Victorian Opera’s inbound Artistic Director, Stuart Maunder, who will direct.

“The alchemy of the marriage of words and music opens windows on the marvellous for our opera audiences in 2023,” said Artistic Director Richard Mills AM.

“The program celebrates great singing, new work, a commitment to developing artists and young people, and a commitment to diversity, reaching out to new audiences as well as to our friends and patrons who love traditional opera.”

“In 2023 we are creating pathways for developing artists, first nations arts practitioners and young designers and theatre workers – as well as young singers.”

“International guest artists also feature prominently in the season, old friends returning and great Australian talent such as Simon Young, Steve Davislim, Jessica Pratt and Deborah Humble returning to Melbourne as honoured guests.”

“And two new operas will take the stage in 2023: The Visitors by First Nations creative team Christopher Sainsbury and Jane Harrison and my own new opera with librettist Malcolm Angelucci’s Galileo, with a video text by Jamie Clennett, directed by Stuart Maunder.”

“This premiere will see the passing of the baton as I depart my role as Artistic Director and Stuart steps into the position, opening the door on a new chapter for Victorian Opera,” said Mills.

As Mills prepares to say goodbye, Victorian Opera will honour and celebrate his legacy across 12 months of stellar concerts, productions and special programming.

Following its debut in Launceston last year, Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola will transfer to Melbourne to open the 2023 Victorian Opera season at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 10 March.

Transforming the story of Cinderella into a heart-warming tale of love and forgiveness, this classic and enchanting opera is directed by Elizabeth Hill-Cooper with Victorian Opera’s own Richard Mills joining her as conductor (the pair previously collaborated on The Barber of Seville in 2019).

A Soviet-era Khrushchev-style apartment complex is transported to contemporary Melbourne in Melbourne, Cheremushkia darkly comic story that remains as relevant as its debut in Moscow in 1959.

Vladimir Mass and Mikhail Chervinsky’s sarcastically funny libretto – matched by visionary composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s score – grapples with topics all too familiar to Melbourne audiences of today, exploring income inequality, housing affordability and the pitfalls of progress.

Showcasing the incredible new talents of the ‘VO Emerges’ cast, this fully-staged operetta will meet these perennial issues with fresh perspectives and voices alike at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from 22 – 25 March.

In an enriching tale for children, The Grumpiest Boy in the World follows young hero Zachary as he discovers an imaginary world of giants, hairy creatures and flying things and learns just what it means to stand out.

Featuring a score from Joseph Twist, known for his stellar musical direction on hit children’s TV show, Bluey, alongside Sidney Myer Fellowship librettist and much-loved children’s author, Finegan Kruckemeyer, this family friendly favourite returns for a new generation of young theatre-goers to discover.

The Grumpiest Boy in the World will be performed at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse on Saturday 24 June with a relaxed session on Friday 23 June.

Considered by Mozart to be his greatest work in the genre of opera, the epic Idomeneo will be revived in a landmark new production directed by Emma Muir-Smith and conducted by Benjamin Bayl with accompaniment from the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

Death, politics and roaring crescendos unfold against the mythic tale of the King of Crete as he faces an impossible decision: to sacrifice his son in payment of a debt to Poseidon or exile him across the seas.

Presented in the grand majesty of the Palais Theatre on 4, 6 and 8 July, this full staging of one of opera’s great jewels will sparkle on the St Kilda foreshore as if it were Poseidon’s Bay.

Victorian Opera continues its exploration of Richard Strauss in a one night only concert of the beautiful and deeply thoughtful ‘conversation piece for music’, Capriccio, conducted by the renowned Simone Young AM and featuring Lithuanian-born soprano Vida Mikneviciute.

In a unique collaboration – staged at the Palais Theatre on 31 August – with the Australian National Academy of Music, this 1942 operatic masterpiece by Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss ponders an age-old question of the artform: which is more important for opera – the words or the music?

From the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and Staatsoper Hamburg, world renowned opera star Jessica Pratt returns to Melbourne next September for a special one-night-only concert at the Palais Theatre on 2 September, in what is sure to be a highlight of the city’s musical calendar.

Widely considered one of today’s foremost interpreters of Bel Canto’s most challenging roles, Pratt will delight opera lovers and new listeners alike with a showcase of the heroes and heroines from the canon.

Returning to the Melbourne stage for the first time since her sold out 2019 Heroic Bel Canto concert with Victorian Opera, Pratt will be joined by Richard Mills as conductor and performance partner, Orchestra Victoria.

The first of Victorian Opera’s two world premiere productions for 2023 is The Visitors: a remarkable new commission directed by Queensland Theatre Associate Artist and Noongar man, Isaac Drandic, with Victorian Opera’s Head of Music, Phoebe Briggs, as conductor.

Set in 1788 as strange ships approach the shores of Tumbalong (Darling Harbour) on January 26, The Visitors is imbued with Aboriginal customs, melody and humour.

From First Nation’s composer Christopher Sainsbury and libretto by original playwright and Muruwari woman, Jane Harrison, it tells the story of the early days of colonialism and its impacts on the First Peoples. The Visitors will be staged at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from the 18 – 21 October.

Faith, knowledge and power collide in Victorian Opera’s final 2023 production, Galileo, staged at the Palais Theatre on the 20, 22 and 23 December. A world premiere work by outgoing Victorian Opera Artistic Director, Richard Mills, Galileo is a searching meditation on questions of faith in a violent, hostile and uncertain world.

Told through a collaboration with filmmaker Jamie Clennett (The Who’s Tommy), the combined forces of La Compañia and Orchestra Victoria, and starring Victorian Opera favourite, baritone Samuel Dundas as Galileo – this project will celebrate the artistic legacy of Richard Mills while welcoming Victorian Opera’s new Artistic Director, Stuart Maunder as director.

Subscriptions to Victorian Opera’s season 2023 are now on sale. Tickets available to the public from Monday 12 December. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Victorian Opera’s season 2023 (supplied)