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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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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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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“Little Women” shows off young talent: Sydney Conservatorium performs Mark Adamo’s opera of Alcott’s classic novel

Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s production of Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women, adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott

Review by Holly Champion

 

Soprano Jessica Westcott as Meg March and mezzo-soprano Anna McDougall as Jo March

Mark Adamo’s popular operatic version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has now finally been given its Sydney premiere by the Conservatorium’s “opera school”.  Adamo’s lush timbres and exotic harmonies are excellently interpreted by musical director (and this evening’s conductor) Eduardo Diazmuñoz, with his orchestra of Con students. The young singers are highly impressive, in a happy blend of good casting, looks and acting, and great—if sometimes not quite fully mature—singing.

Presumably to allow as many students the chance to shine as possible, the production has been double-cast for several of the roles, with Cast A performing on opening night and Thursday 16th, and Cast B on Tuesday 14th and Saturday 18th. I had the pleasure of seeing Cast A on opening night. I sat in a seat that was a little too far forward for the high proscenium and—despite the fact that it is sung in English—the necessary supertitles. I had a crick in the neck, but came away happy nevertheless.

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