Opera Australia

Rigoletto

Verdi Rigoletto opera to libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed 2010 by Elijah Moshinsky at the Sydney Opera House. Stars Alan Opie (Rigoletto), Emma Matthews (Gilda), Paul O'Neill (Duke), David Parkin (Sparafucile), Elizabeth Campbell (Giovanna/Maddalena), Christopher Hillier (Count Ceprano), Jane Parkin (Countess Ceprano), Andrew Moran (Marullo), David Corcoran (Borsa), Gennadi Dubinsky (Count Monterone), Jodie McGuren (Page), and Clifford Plumpton (Court Usher). Giovanni Reggioli conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Concertmaster Aubrey Murphy) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Designs by Michael Yeargan; lighting by Robert Bryan; directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Executive Producer was Chris Yates; Supervising Producer was Sam Russell; Audio Director was Tony David Cray. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: D

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Madama Butterfly

Puccini Madama Butterfly opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2012 by Moffatt Oxenbould at The Arts Center, Melbourne, Australia. Stars Hiromi Omura, James Egglestone, Graeme Macfarlane, Sian Pendry, Barry Ryan, Clifford Plumpton, Gregory Brown, Jud Arthur, Samuel Dundas, Nicole Car, and John Nguyen. Giovanni Reggioli conducts the Orchestra Victoria (Concert Master Yi Wang) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Set and costume designs by Peter England and Russell Cohen; lighting by Robert Bryan; audio direction by Tony David Cray; directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Produced by Sam Russell and Chris Yates. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Der Rosenkavalier

Richard Strauss Der Rosenkavalier opera to libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Directed 2010 by Brian FitzGerald at the Sydney Opera House. Stars Cheryl Barker (The Feldmarschallin), Catherine Carby (Count Octavian Rofrano), Manfred Hemm (Baron Ochs Auf Lerchenau), Warwick Fyfe (Herr von Faninal), Emma Pearson (Sophie von Faninal), Andrew Brunsdon (Valzacchi), Jacqueline Dark (Annina), and Henry Choo (Italian Singer). Andrew Litton conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Concertmaster Aubrey Murphy), Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black), and Children's Chorus (Chorus Preparation by Anthony Hunt). Rehearsed by Roger Press; designs by Carl Friedrich Oberle; lighting by Nigel Levings. Audio direction by Tony David Cray; TV direction by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Production Executive was Chris Yates; Producer was Sam Russell. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Turandot

Puccini Turandot opera to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Directed 2012 by Graeme Murphy at the Melbourne Arts Centre. Stars Susan Foster, Rosario La Spina, Hyeseoung Kwon, Jud Arthur, Shane Lowrencev, Andrew Moran, Graeme Macfarlane, David Corcoran, and Benjamin Rasheed. Andrea Licata conducts the Orchestra Victoria, the Opera Australia Chorus, and the Opera Australia Children’s Chorus. Choreography by Graeme Murphy; set and costume designs by Kristian Fredrikson; lighting by John Drummond Montgomery; audio direction by Tony David Gray; TV direction by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Chris Yates was Production Executive; Sam Russell was Producer. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

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Lakmé

 

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 (Lakmé), Aldo Di Toro (Gerald), Stephen Bennett (Nilakantha), Dominica Matthews (Malika), Edmond Choo (Hadji),  Roxane Hislop (Mistress Bentson), Jane Parkin (Ellen), Angela Brun (Rose),  Luke Gabbedy (Frederic), Benjamin Rasheed (Fortune Teller), Nara Lee (Chinese Merchant), and Adrian Tamburini (Pickpocket). 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. Directed for 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

Here's a report on this title from Wonk Gordon Smith in Nîme, where he is founder of L'Opera Dou, an educational charity devoted to wine, snacks, and the fine arts, especially as celebrated in home theaters:

"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!"

Gordon always buys all his recordings so as to maintain his editorial independence. But one suspects the Opera Australia PR department sent Gordon a case a Kangaroo wine for the Lakmé party, something Gordon would never turn down.

Here are some clips that give you a good feel for this traditional production of Lakmé:

Don Giovanni (Rhodes)

Mozart Don Giovanni opera to libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte.  Directed 2011 by Göran Järvefelt at the Sidney Opera House. Stars Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Don Giovanni), Conal Coad (Leporello), Rachelle Durkin (Donna Anna), Daniel Sumegi (Commendatore), Henry Choo  (Don Ottavio), Jacqueline Dark (Donna Elvira), Taryn Fiebig (Zerlina), and Andrew Jones (Masetto). Mark Wigglesworth conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Concertmaster Aubrey Murphy) and the Australian Opera Chorus (Chorus Master Anthony Hunt). Designs by Carl Friedrich Oberle; lighting by Nigel Levings; rehearsed by Matthew Barclay; assistant direction by Johanna Puglisi.  Directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick; audio by Tony David Cray. Production Executive was Chris Yates; producer was Sam Russell.  Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-


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La Bohème (Kizart)

Giacomo Puccini La Bohème opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2011 by Gale Edwards at the Sydney Opera House. Stars Ji-Min Park (Rodolfo), Takesha Meshé Kizart (Mimì), José Carbó (Marcello), Taryn Fiebig (Musetta), David Parkin (Colline), Shane Lowrencev (Schaunard), John Bolton Wood (Benoit),  Adrian Tamburini (Alcindoro), Benjamin Rasheed (Parpignol), Malcolm Ede (Customs Sergeant), and Clifford Plumpton (Customs Officer). Shao-Chia Lü conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Associate Concertmaster Huy-Nguyen Bui) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Set design by Brian Thomson; costume design by Julie Lynch; lighting design by John Rayment; assistant direction by Matthew Barclay. Directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick; audio direction by Tony David Cray; produced by Chris Yates and Sam Russell. Released in 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B


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Marriage of Figaro

Mozart Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) opera to libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Although titled in English, opera is sung in Italian. Directed  2010 by Neil Armfield (with Associate Director Roger Press) at the Sydney Opera House. Stars Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Figaro), Taryn Feibig (Susanna), Warwick Fyfe (Dr. Bartolo), Jacqueline Dark (Marcellina), Sian Pendry (Cherubino), Peter Coleman-Wright (Count Almaviva), Kanen Breen (Don Basilio), Rachelle Durkin (Countess Almaviva), Clifford Plumpton (Antonio), Claire Lyon (Barbarina), as well as Katherine Wiles and Margaret Plummer (Bridesmaids). Patrick Summers conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Concertmaster Aubrey Murphy) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master  Michael Black with Assistant Anthony Hunt). Designs by Dale Ferguson; lighting by Rory Dempster. Directed for TV by Cameran Kirkpatrick. Released  2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA


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