This year marks Victorian Opera’s tenth anniversary, and so far, the company has offered highly successful, innovative productions alongside more traditional pieces featuring world-class performers. The VO's 2016 season – launched by artistic director Richard Mills – branches even further out into unfamiliar territory, and opera enthusiasts and lovers of the performing arts have plenty of reasons to get excited.
‘Different dreams’ was the theme of the launch, for good reason: the first production of the year will be Voyage to the Moon (Feb 15-19) which will see director Michael Gow blend Baroque operas into an entertaining pastiche, featuring respected Australian soprano Emma Matthews and leading mezzo Sally-Anne Russell.
A highlight is sure to be Banquet of Secrets (March 1-5), created by Australian author, screenwriter, comedian and producer Steve Vizard and celebrated composer Paul Grabowsky in tune with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The show – starring the brilliant Antoinette Halloran, who stole the show in the VO’s recent production of Sweeney Todd – will see four friends sharing a meal live on stage (created by chef Philippe Mouchel) and swapping secrets.
Anyone who encountered the divine voice of Jessica Pratt in the VO’s staging of I Puritaniseveral months ago would need no convincing to see Lucia di Lammermoor (April 12-21), in which she’ll be returning from Europe’s premier opera houses to sing her defining role.
Earlier this year, the Victorian Opera filled the Palais Theatre with Wagner’s dramatic Flying Dutchman, a benchmark work made contemporary with immersive 3D technology. The VO will follow up on this with a production of Laughter and Tears (Aug 13-18), created with Circus Oz with strong elements of Commedia dell’Arte, directed by Olivier Award-winning director Emil Wolk.
3D technology will appear again in 2016, with the Australian premiere of the musical Four Saint in Three Acts (Sep 30-Oct 1) by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein, performed 82 years after it premiered in Broadway. Staged as a youth opera, the piece will tell the story of Spanish saints in the 16th century. Fifty special guests will also have the opportunity to have dinner with ‘Gertrude Stein’ and her muse Toklas – brought to life by Australian arts innovator Robyn Archer and soprano Merlyn Quaife.
Artistic director Richard Mills has written a new opera for children – The Pied Piper (Jul 28-29)– which will be the next touring project after the success of this year’s Remembrance and 2013’s The Magic Pudding: the Opera. Families are also invited to a retelling of Cinderella (Jul 16).
Says Richard Mills: “2016, a year of different dreams, new operas from old music, new work on traditional themes, gastronomic subjects, evenings of musical nonsense assisted by cutting-edge technologies, blood, murder, laughter and tears: all the ingredients that give our art form a grand and rich power.”