Tag: opera


Daring diva with a killer voice

By Christine Moffat

Isabel Hertaeg has a dream to be an operatic soprano, but she’s noticed that they don’t always have the best of luck.  Her theory is, if she can work out what keeps killing them off, she has some hope of surviving a role!

Death By Soprano

Hertaeg has serious soprano-envy, and this is a very good thing.  As a result, we were treated to a fabulous array of soprano deaths, without all those annoying tenors getting in the way to spoil it.

The show began with Hertaeg coming onstage as the tragic Ophelia, whose gory death details I won’t spoil.  Suffice to say, this reviewer’s sick sense of humour was switched on in the first three minutes of this show.  Once poor Ophelia is no more, Hertaeg outlines her approach: she will explain the A-Z of soprano deaths.  Accompanied wonderfully by Amy Abler, Hertaeg then starts her alphabetical annihilation with ‘A is for Avalanche’.

If it had gone wrong, this show could have turned into one big highbrow in-joke, with opera aficionados tittering away whilst the common folk looked on confused.  Instead, it turned out to be an intelligent concept, wrapped in a delightfully dark show, and decorated with Hertaeg’s wonderful voice.

The cute little prop jokes kept the comedy bubbling along, and the many, many deaths took care of the pathos.  Watch out for Brunhilde (a highlight), who ticks both the prop comedy and pathos boxes at once!

Although the show is a tragic comedy, with little quips sprinkled throughout, Hertaeg did not skimp on the opera.  Her performance of Butterfly’s aria in particular was intensely moving.  On top of being funny and having an amazing voice, Hertaeg also managed to sing in Italian, French, Russian, English and German.  I’m beginning to feel a little soprano-envy myself…

Show information:

Death by Soprano

Wednesday 20th March 2013

The Butterfly Club

Carson Place (just off Little Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD)


Review: JO LOTH in Mind Games

Intense, evocative – and enlightening…

By Bradley Storer

To the straining sound of discordant guitar, a desperate woman trapped in material resembling a strait-jacket plunges through the performance space of The Butterfly Club. Before our eyes this lost soul escapes her confinement, and with the simple addition of a blonde wig transforms into the domineering Dr Jolene Mindtrick who guides us through the first steps on this journey – the mind plays tricks, she tells us, and we must learn to control it.

Performer Jo Loth, who emerges immediately after the appearance of Dr Mindtrick to speak directly to the audience, has crafted a confronting cabaret work based on her interviews with sufferers of mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder. It is also partly based on Loth’s own experiences, she openly admits at the beginning of the evening. 

A cavalcade of characters and their experiences and ways of coping with their disorders are introduced, each one explored in heart-breakingly realistic fashion through a variety of different original songs. The wide range of styles which appear, including opera, country and rap, seem particularly appropriate as different expressions of the broad spectrum of psychotic illness.

This is cabaret in its most intimate form, as Loth delves into the most and delicate aspects of the human psyche. Although the show remains, on the whole, light-hearted, it is not a show which elicits deep belly laughs from what it depicts: we are placed directly into the mindset of someone teetering close to the edge of complete breakdown or suicide. When Loth enacts parts of her own struggle with depression onstage, it feels like a precious gift is being given to the audience – we are not merely being told what it is like to suffer mental illness, but are being shown and made to experience this landscape of despair directly.

Loth is an incredibly skilled and committed performer, swapping between personas at a moment’s notice and bringing each character to life with rich physicality and a distinctive vocal quality. Her accompanist Damien Slingsby is a wonder, accompanying both on piano and electric guitar, expertly beat-boxing and even singing a song of his own which touches the heart with its simplicity and sincere emotion.

The reoccuring spectre of Dr Mindtrick, a symbol of the repression and denial which prevents sufferers from reaching out and seeking help for their pain, is a sharp and powerful reminder of the show’s primary message: the hidden and devastating pain of mental illness can only begin to heal if we acknowledge its existence. Mind Games, in bringing that message to light, is incredibly moving and ultimately uplifting.

Date: Thurs 7th to Sun 10th June
Time: Thurs to Sat at 7pm, Sun at 6pm
Ticket price:$23/$20 conc/$18 group

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com