Leo Delibes Lakmé opera to a libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille. Directed 2011 by Roger Hodgman, based on a production by Adam Cook. Stars Emma Matthews, Aldo Di Toro, Stephen Bennett, Dominica Matthews, Edmond Choo, Roxane Hislop, Jane Parkin, Angela Brun, Luke Gabbedy, Benjamin Rasheed, Nara Lee, and Adrian Tamburini. Emmanuel Joel-Hornak conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Leader Huy-Nguyen Bui) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Acting Chorus Master Anthony Hunt). Set and costume design by Mark Thompson; lighting design by Nigel Levings; assistant direction by Naomi Edwards; audio direction by Tony David Cray; TV direction by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Chris Yates was Production Executive; Sam Russell was Producer. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A
Opera Australia’s sumptuous production of Lakmé with Emma Matthews in the title role caused a sensation when it was shown to the OperaDou Jury in June 2012. Audiences in Europe have had few opportunities to see OA productions until now. The realization that so much wonderful music-making takes place in Australia was a big surprise. We understand OA is publishing more productions in HDVD. If they are all up to the standard of Lakmé, we have quite an operatic feast to look forward to!
It was a joy to see more long shots than we usually get in HDVD opera discs. The sharpness of the high- definition image makes this possible and gives a greater impression of “being there.” Jury members also loved Mark Thompson's lavish sets and gorgeous costumes. One of the Jury members was a retired first violinist who has played in performances of Lakmé at the Paris and Lyon operas. He was amazed at the quality of the OA production and the clarity of the HDVD video and audio recordings.
The Jury heaped praise on Emma Matthews. She is so believable as Lakmé, and she displays effortless command over her pure, clear voice. She brought tears to the eyes of Jury members with her famous coloratura aria, the “Bell Song.” The Jury also cited Aldo Di Toro for his performance and clear tenor voice.
We had three Australians at one showing! They beamed with pride at what their national opera has achieved. They regretted, however, that the disc did not have shots of the iconic Sydney Opera House where this performance was filmed. Said one Aussie, “I’d like to look out over the harbor at the opera house and have that feeling of being on my yacht as I’m sipping champagne....” Well, perhaps the producers can fix that in their next OA release!