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The world's most famous artworks will come to life in Opera Australia's 2019 season

Written by
Ben Neutze

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh met? You can see that scenario play out in Damiano Michieletto's production of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims, the centrepiece of Opera Australia's 2019 Melbourne season and the first ever production of the opera to be staged in Australia.

The opera itself has a relatively simple plot about a group of VIPs travelling to the coronation of the French King Charles X, but Michieletto's production, which is headed to the Metropolitan Opera in New York after Australia, takes place in a gallery where famous artworks burst out of their frames and interact with one another.

The Melbourne season, which has one more mainstage production than OA has staged in recent years, also includes revivals of classic productions of Rigoletto and Turandot and the Melbourne premieres of new productions of Faust and Così fan tutte.

The company's biggest story next year is happening in Sydney, where it's premiering it's first new mainstage opera in almost a decade and staging three high-tech productions using LED screens in place of traditional sets. We're expecting the "digital productions" to be rolled out in Melbourne in 2020, but there's still plenty to see here next year.

Mainstage season 2019

Rigoletto (May 11-29)
Conductor: Andrea Licata, Director: Elijah Moshinsky

This La Dolce Vita-inspired production is one of OA’s most enduring, thanks to its spectacular revolving set and ultra glam costumes. It’s still a perfect introduction to the world of opera. Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat will sing the title role.

Così fan tutte (May 14-25)
Conductor: Keri-Lynn Wilson, Director: David McVicar 

This traditional production will make its Melbourne debut in 2019, with a trio of brilliant Australian leading ladies: Jane Ede as Fiordiligi, Anna Dowsley as Dorabella and Taryn Fiebig as Despina. Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson makes her Australian debut.

Il Viaggio a Reims (May 24-Jun 1)
Conductor: Daniel Smith, Director: Damiano Michieletto

This Rossini opera has never before been performed in Australia, but will have an inventive premiere directed by Damiano Michieletto (who was behind OA’s acclaimed production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci) set inside a museum where some of the world’s most famous artworks come to life.

Turandot (Nov 19-Dec 6)
Conductor: Christian Badea, Director: Graeme Murphy

This Turandot is another evergreen, having debuted in 1990. It still looks fabulous, driven by dance and and an otherworldly design. Lise Lindstrom will sing the title role opposite Walter Fraccaro as Calaf – who sings Pavarotti’s greatest hit, ‘Nessun Dorma’.

Faust (Nov 27-Dec 7)
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire, Director: David McVicar

This Covent Garden production finally comes to Melbourne with Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the devil and Maria Mudryak as Marguerite. 

Other 2019 events

Andrea Chénier in concert (Aug 13)
Conductor: Pinchas Steinberg

Superstar tenor Jonas Kaufmann is back in Melbourne for this performance at Hamer Hall alongside Eva-Maria Westbroek. 

Ghost Sonata (Sep 25-28)
Conductor: Warwick Stengards, Director: Greg Eldridge 

OA is continuing its series of chamber performances with this opera based on August Strindberg’s play. The cast includes Richard Anderson, Dominica Matthews and John Longmuir, who’ll perform the piece at Malthouse Theatre.

Two Weddings, One Bride (Nov 7-10)
Various composers
Music director: Robert Andrew Greene, Director: Dean Bryant

This “jukebox opera” – like a jukebox musical, but with arias instead of ABBA – features songs by Strauss, Offenbach and Lehár brought together to form a new farce based on a story by Charles Lecocq.

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