Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday 2017 at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney

*Note: Due to an unexpected sequence of events, this review was delayed by some weeks. My apologies to those awaiting its publication.

The queue to get into St Andrew’s on this balmy Good Friday evening was so long that it coiled around and around on itself, making finding its end an extremely difficult task. Those crushed in it were mostly over 55, as is generally the case for classical music concerts in Sydney, but all ages were grumbling about the queue, while slight smiles of anticipation lurked around the corners of everyone’s mouths. A Messiah was in the offing, almost exactly 275 years after the work’s London premiere, with four international soloists: Sarah Toth (soprano, USA/Germany), Sally-Anne Russell (mezzo, Australia), Richard Butler (tenor, UK) and Paul Goodwin-Groen (bass, USA). ****

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Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”, brought to you by Operantics

I have been a little quiet on this blog for a while, because I’ve been working hard on publicity and sponsorship, German coaching, translation assistance, dramaturgy, and surtitles for young opera artists company Operantics!

This April, Operantics proudly presents Strauss’ beloved operetta Die Fledermaus. We open tonight – Thursday 20th April at the Independent Theatre. It is a cracker of a show: sexy, hilarious and sophisticated, with a new libretto and setting, transated and transposed by director Ian Warwick from 1870s Vienna to multicultural, decadent 1920s Manhattan.

Fledermaus is proudly sponsored by Yarra Burn Wines.  A complimentary refreshment will be served to guests at the Thursday and Friday performances.  As Strauss’ unforgettable chorus number sings: Cheers for the King of all wines, King Champagne the First!

Tickets are available here or at the door one hour before the performance. Free parking is available near the Independent Theatre, or the North Sydney train station is only 15 mins walk away. With only four performances (Thursday 20th, Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and a matinee on Sunday 23rd April) make sure you don’t miss this wonderful show!

Ainhoa Arteta as Tosca for Opera Australia…and as herself at the Institutio Cervantes, Sydney

Tosca (Ainhoa Arteta) retreats in fear and disgust while Scarpia (Lucio Gallo) advances on her. Image credit: Prudence Upton

I was in a cynical and grumpy mood. It was a wet and windy Wednesday evening, I had spent my day at work and then become lost and stuck in Sydney’s endless roadworks and lack of parking. I had blisters on my feet and I was running late. I had taken a free ticket to see the powerhouse Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta in a public interview with Victor Ugarte at the Institutio Cervantes, Sydney’s main Spanish language learning centre.

While I was curious to see and hear Arteta up close, I felt so much more mundane than I had the previous Friday, when I had zipped my Golf into SOH’s ample underground parking space and strutted up the stairs in my heels to see Arteta star in John Bell and Christian Badea’s wonderfully dark production of Tosca for Opera Australia. That evening, what is probably my favourite opera had swept me away on a tide of emotional intensity, and the glittering lights on the harbour and the fancy champagne had seemed almost magical.

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Rockdale’s Bartered Bride brings Czech immigrant tradition to an Australian small town…with wonderful results

bb_3Rockdale Opera’s latest offering, a quirky and very Australian update of Smetana’s Czech classic, goes above and beyond the usual Sydney pro-am fare, with a top-notch ensemble cast.

LEFT: Wannabe marriage-broker Kecal encourages Krusina to marry off his daughter for money. (L-R: Rory Struthers, Christopher Curcuruto, Kate Wilmot).

Image credit: Ray Wing-Lun / Rockdale Opera Company

Review by Holly Champion

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“Sempre Libera” (2015)

Opera done differently…

“Sempre Libera” was proudly presented in May 2015 by Shh Centre 4 Hybrid Arts for the Parramatta Anywhere Festival

Watch the final aria here (approx. 2 min)

A cynical and cheeky post-operatic version of Act I of Verdi’s classic opera La Traviata… mashed up with jazz standards, guitar/percussion improvisation, something very familiar from the millennials’ childhoods, and of course metal.








Above: Sarah Toth (Violetta) and Damien Noyce (Alfredo) in rehearsal

Watch the full video here (approx. 30 min)


DirectION: Michal Imielski

Music Direction + Keys: Holly Champion

choreography: Cloe Fournier

Violetta: Sarah Toth (soprano)

Alfredo: Damien Noyce (tenor)

Guitar + metal vocals: Joss Separovic

Percussion: Kaylie dunstan

Concept by Peter Maple + Michal Imielski

My PhD Thesis – now available

Several years of determined struggle came to an end this year and I was notified that I would receive my PhD in April 2016. Due to my parents being away, I moved the graduation date from June to November. My PhD thesis is now available online via UNSW Library: Dramaturgical Analysis of Opera Performance: Four recent productions of Dido and Aeneas

Thank you to all those who helped me on this long journey!


Three Ways Doing a PhD is Different from Doing a Bachelors’ Degree

How does a PhD differ from an undergraduate degree? Some may think that there is little difference between writing an undergraduate thesis and writing a PhD thesis, but they would be wrong. Beginning a PhD journey is embarking on a journey of self-discovery as much as of the creation of new knowledge, and nothing can truly prepare you for what you will experience. However, here are some points to bear in mind.

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Jesus Christ is Really a Superstar: Willoughby Theatre Co. Impresses

Willoughby Theatre Company’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar

Review by Holly Champion

Willoughby Theatre Company - Jesus Christ Superstar - PerfectImages Photography

Willoughby Theatre Company is known in Sydney for high-quality amateur/community productions, but director Stig Bell’s contemporary gothic reimagining of Lloyd Webber’s 1970 smash hit still astonishes with its professionalism. Every dollar of the sizeable budget is put to good use in the moody and clever set, glitzy rock-concert lighting and most particularly in the dozens of stylish steampunk-style costumes designed by Matthew Patteson and Kate Campbell-Westerway. Musical director Therese Doyle conducted the 12-piece band with precision and driving tempi that moved the story and the groovy rhythms along at an exciting pace. The steampunk concept intelligently updated the original hippie-counterculture theme to reflect a contemporary questioning of Christianity’s narrative and values.

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