What's on stage in Melbourne?
Wagner was never one for brevity, and he certainly didn’t think it was the soul of wit; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was his only comedy and it goes for roughly four and a half hours – more than six if you factor in intervals. To some people that may sound like hell, but it’s a surprisingly accessible and entertaining piece, so stuffed with glorious singing and arresting set pieces that it seems to go past in a flash of colour and pageantry. This co-production with London’s Royal Opera House is also visually explosive – a spectacle so massive it literally can’t fit on a Sydney stage – so for the uninitiated it makes for the perfect introduction to Wagner, and for fans an unmissable treat. The story is actually pretty simple, even as it allows Wagner room for his signature philosophical debates on the nature of art and reason. The Guild of Mastersingers, made up of local artisans, is a club much like the Freemasons, only it admits new members through a singing audition. Technically open to all-comers, its complex and narrow set of rules and regulations means that newly arrived Walther von Stolzing (Stefan Vinke) – whose singing technique derives from birdsong and forest sounds – doesn’t stand a chance. The reason Walther is so keen to join is because he’s fallen in love with Eva (Natalie Aroyan), whose father Veit Pogner (Daniel Sumegi) has offered her up as the prize in a singing competition that is only open to guild members. Local poet and cobbler, Hans Sachs (Michael K
Back in 2011, director Gale Edwards and designer Brian Thomson took Puccini’s smash hit La Bohème to the wild cabaret halls and streets of 1930s Berlin. The production was embraced by die-hard romantics, opera fans and newcomers alike, and is back yet again for Opera Australia's Melbourne season. The story, which follows a close-knit group of young, fiercely idealistic bohemians through first love to untimely death. La Bohème inspired Moulin Rouge, Rent and countless adaptations, including this Weimar-set production, starring international opera stars Maija Kovalevska and Yosep Kang alongside local favourites Jane Ede and Christopher Tonkin.