Opera Australia Blog

MELBOURNE: A beginner’s guide to Opera Australia’s 2014 season


Struggling to decide? We take you through the range of what’s on offer in the 2014 Opera Australia season in Melbourne. Complete with cheat notes (see it if you like…) and talking points for interval.



Verdi himself believed he would never write a greater ensemble than the glorious quartet in the last act of Rigoletto. It takes serious vocal power to sing the spectacular music at the heart of his tale of lust and violence, so the cast for Rigoletto is a true melting pot of international artists and Australian stars. This new period production will be directed by Roger Hodgman and designed by Richard Roberts and Tracy Grant Lord.

See it if you like: period-style thrillers, sumptuous costumes, spectacular music
Talking point: the all-star cast: Warwick Fyfe makes his role debut as Rigoletto and Italian tenor Gianluca Terranova lends his swagger to the Duke. Russian soprano Irina Dubrovskaya plays the doomed Gilda.

Eugene Onegin is an opera for those who want to be moved. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s famous novel in verse, the story is a Russian epic involving unrequited love, jealous passions, a violent duel and unfulfilled desires. Coming to Opera Australia direct from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, this new production is a spectacular realisation of Tchaikovsky’s tragedy.

See it if you like: beautiful music, huge emotions, Anna Karenina
Talking point: Covent Garden’s creative team including Artistic Director Kasper Holten are coming to Australia to stage this beautiful opera.

Long-lost lovers, mistaken identities and the odd culture clash make for a barrel of laughs in Rossini’s The Turk in Italy. Gabriela Tylesova has designed a colourful world set in a 1950s Italian seaside town for Simon Phillips’ new production of this rarely-performed opera.  Expect bikinis and bellinis as some of the world’s best comic performers gather to form the ensemble cast!

See it if you like: La Dolce Vita style, fifties fever, comedy and opera buffa
Talking point: this opera has never been professionally staged in this country.

The dark and beautiful Carmen has been captivating hearts for generations. In this classic production by Francesco Zambello, two Latin firebrands take the lead role: Nancy Fabiola Herrera and Milijana Nikolic. Watch Bizet’s tale of lust and love come to life in this period production wher the women wear corsets and the men ride horses. Even a first-timer will recognise many of the tunes in this popular opera.

See it if you like: tapas and sangria (the Arts Centre will have lots of themed drinking and dining packages to complement the show), thrilling tragedies, bullfighting and all things Spanish
Talking point: this production features a live stallion on stage


Opera is more known for fantasy than it is for realism, but the tale of war-marked love at the centre of Puccini’s Tosca has rung true with audiences for generations. Theatre director John Bell made his mainstage opera debut with this new production of Tosca, and his dramatic touch is evident in every subtle gesture. Bell sets his Tosca in Mussolini’s Italy in an attempt to bring the horrors of war into sharp focus for an audience who hold WWII in living memory. It’s a poignant setting for Puccini’s incomparable beautiful music.

See it if you like: war dramas, stunning arias, realism
Talking point: Bell has updated the setting to WWII, bringing the drama very close to home

A miserly old bachelor is about to be taught a difficult lesson in Don Pasquale, and for the audience, that means a barrel of laughs. The brilliant comic pairing of Rachelle Durkin and Conal Coad breathes life into this charming patter comedy by Donizetti. Roger Hodgman has directed a production that takes its cue from the sparkling music of the score, balancing comedy with some poignant moments. The set and costumes offer a nostalgic walk down memory lane to the capris, spats (and even a Vespa!) of the 1950s Italy.

See it if you like: Roman Holiday, comedies, smiling until your cheeks hurt
Talking point: Spot the real, working Vespa on stage!

Falstaff is wide of girth and inflated in self-esteem, and he thinks he’s a hit with the ladies. There’s plenty of comedy in Shakespeare’s original story, and Verdi’s score adds another element of fun. For a great comedy, you need a great comedian, and that man is Warwick Fyfe. It takes a fat suit, a funny outfit and a colourful wig to transform the baritone into the comical knight, but the rest of the comedy in this opera flows naturally under the skilful direction of Simon Phillips.

See it if you like: Shakespeare’s comedies, fat suits, fairies and nymphs
Talking point: The role is so demanding, Fyfe has to change fat suits at interval lest he drown in his own sweat.


The King and I is a classic musical and this smash-hit production won award after award on Broadway. When an English widow arrives in Siam to teach the children of the King, not everything is as she expected. Wonderful orchestration provides the soundtrack to a tale of blossoming love and cultural understanding.

See it if you like: Rodgers & Hammerstein, period costumes, waltzy tunes
Talking point: This Christopher Renshaw production actually premiered in Australia before heading to Broadway to sweep the awards.

Subscriptions are open for 2014. Single tickets will go on sale on September 23. Click here for more details.

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