Tag: Alexander Theatre

REVIEW: Melbourne Opera Presents MADAME BUTTERFLY

The Butterfly reborn

By Margaret Wieringa

It’s one of the greatest tragedies in opera – Madame Butterfly, a young Japanese woman who falls in love with and marries an America serviceman only to be abandoned and, ultimately, takes her own life.

This production by Melbourne Opera is a restaging of director Caroline Stacey‘s production that was nominated for seven Green Room Awards a decade ago. Of the two casts being used for this performance, I had the pleasure of seeing Antoinette Halloran as Madame Butterfly.

Madame Butterfly

The turmoil of the title role poured out lusciously not only in her singing, but through every part of her presence. While she was the emotional centre of the performance, her grief was reflected in other characters, most notably  her maid Suzuki (played with beautiful large physical gestures by Caroline Vercoe) and Sharpless, the US consul (in a contrastingly still but equally grief-stricken performance by Roger Howell),

As I came through the foyer, I was surprised at the variety of people in the audience. There were young and old, some families; some seemed very familiar to the theatre experience and others, like one gentleman I overheard “could not believe they would ever go to the opera!” To get such a wide variety of audience members to embrace the performance is a large challenge. Luckily, a slight hitch with part of the set could not have been better timed, as it was followed shortly by a line from Pinkerton (Jason Wasley) wondering if the Japanese style of house would fall apart. The audience laughed together, brought into a shared joke and brought into the house.

The Athenaeum is a venue built for such an intimate performance, as the sounds of the orchestra seem to fill the entire auditorium. Occasionally, the music overpowered the singing, however with such magnificent sounds, it was hard to be disappointed. The simple use of the large, white paper doors as the main set allowed the mood of each scene to be set using delicate colour washes and other lighting effects, and contrasted beautifully with the bright colours of the costumes and umbrellas of the female chorus as they celebrated the wedding day.

By the end of the performance, I felt emotionally wrung out and was happy to leave Madame Butterfly’s house, though I was glad I’d dropped by. And especially glad that I’d brought my tissues.

Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins St, Melbourne

Friday March 21, 7:30pm; Saturday March 22, 2pm/7:30pm, Monday March 24, 6:30pm

Book on 9650 1500 or through Ticketek on 13 28 49

Tickets from $25-$98

Alexander Theatre – Monash University

Wellington Road, Clayton

Saturday May 3, 8pm

Book on 9905 1111 or artsonline.monash.edu.au

Tickets from $30-$75

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REVIEW: Melbourne Opera Presents LA TRAVIATA

The Lady of the Camellias blooms eternal

By Christine Moffat

La Traviata by Verdi is one of the most often performed and best beloved operas in the world.  It tells the tragic tale of courtesan Violetta Valery.  She falls for young and earnest Alfredo, but is convinced by his father Giorgio to give up her happiness for the good of his family.  When Giorgio realises he has wronged a good woman, and brings Alfredo back to Violetta, it is of course too late, and she dies of tuberculosis in her lover’s arms in the famous finale.

Antoinette Halloran as Violetta in La Traviata

This production marks the 10th anniversary of Melbourne Opera, and La Traviata was also the first opera staged by the company.  It is a great celebration of the achievements of Melbourne Opera, a company that is dedicated to providing accessible opera in Melbourne.  This production is particularly accessible for a few reasons; it’s performed in English, the ticket prices start low, and the relatively modern costuming all add up to a production that is relatable and engaging for an audience new to opera and for those eager to see their favourite works revisited .

Soprano Antoinette Halloran is particularly moving as the doomed Violetta.  Her performance was believable and touching, and her voice is superb.  Another stand-out performance came from Manfred Pohlenz in the memorable role of Giorgio, Alfredo’s interfering father.  Vocally the entire cast was strong, and the energetic Melbourne Opera chorus were a highlight.  The costuming by Andrew Bellchambers and Linda Britten was especially good, ranging from luscious ball gowns to simple country dress and suggesting each character’s place in the world and their individual lifestyle instantly.

The evening lasted three hours with two intervals, but felt much shorter – a testament to how entertaining the performance was.  If you are an opera buff, it is a fresh, lively production of an old favourite.  If you have never seen an opera, this production would be a brilliant introduction to the genre.

Performances:

Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne

September 15 – 3.00pm, September 18 – 7.30pm, September 20 – 7.30pm

Alexander Theatre, Monash University

October 11 – 8.00pm

Tickets: $25 – $98

Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au and www.Monash.edu.au/mapa/