Opera Australia Blog

Weekly roundup: The Valkyries arrive in Melbourne and child opera singers cause a stir

lo-res-Walkurie_Horse_011.-Photo-by-Aidan-Corrigan

Airlie Robinson prepares to lead the Melbourne Ring Festival opening parade. Photo by: Aidan Corrigan

Your curated feed of opera news at home and abroad this week.

There’s a certain buzz in the air in Melbourne as the city prepares to welcome the Valkyries as the Melbourne Ring Festival kicks off.

If you live in the garden city, head on down to Federation Square at 1pm tomorrow to witness a wonderful parade and free concert heralding a month of Wagner-related events in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, audiences are gathering from around the world to hear the first cycle, which opens on Monday. A few thousand people have been lucky enough to get a preview at the Dress Rehearsals. Read a “view” (not a review) of Das Rheingold here [spoiler alert – it’s pretty thorough].

In the news

  • From thousands of kilometres away in New York comes the news that the Metropolitan Opera is set to revive its high-tech Robert Lepage-directed Ring cycle in 2018-19.
  • There’s been a lot of chatter around the interwebs on the subject of talent quests and child opera singers, and not all of it gracious. Here is one of the more carefully considered opinion pieces on the subject, by the Washington Post’s classical music critic Anne Midgette. She makes an interesting point that operatic arias continue to capture the public imagination – as long as they aren’t sung in an opera house, in the context of an actual opera. Why? Tell us what you think in the comments!

“In the popular imagination, opera arias have become a vehicle for all that is moving and beautiful – as long as they’re not sung in an opera house. People who would go to some lengths to avoid attending a performance of Puccini’s “Turandot” or “Gianni Schicchi” fall all over themselves at the arias “Nessun dorma” (now an obligatory vehicle for all male singers , and some female ones ) and “O mio babbino caro” (which fulfills the same role for young sopranos ) – when those arias are encountered on the variety stages of shows about the talent pool of various countries. Dissociated from all vestiges of their original meaning or style, these arias have become a meme, a vehicle for a certain kind of popular crossover pseudo-operatic sound.” – Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

  • The New York Times hosts an interesting debate questioning the cost of being an artist in today’s world:

For the diary

The Ring in a Ring Arena Spectacular.

The Ring in a Ring Arena Spectacular cuts the Ring cycle into a 60-minute spoof complete with rock legends in a boxing ring. 

  • Emotionworks Cut Opera have set out to prove Wagner doesn’t have to be serious. Its thoroughly irreverent comic take on Wagner’s Ring will hit Melbourne’s St Kilda in a production ambitiously titled: “The Ring in a Ring Arena Spectacular”.
  • One of Wagner’s early operas is set to have its Australian premiere as part of the Melbourne Ring Festival . You may never have heard the music of Rienzi,but you definitely will have heard some of the work of the librettist: novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who is famous for the phrases: “it was a dark and stormy night”, “the pen is mightier than the sword” and “the great unwashed”. Read more on the work and Melbourne Opera.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne for the season, keep an eye on the Opera Australia Twitter feed to keep up with the myriad of Wagner events happening around the city. Or take a look at the full program here.

Just for fun

  • South Pacific  has opened in Perth, and in a surprise for air travellers, the male ensemble performed at Perth airport. Watch the fun here.

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