An illustration of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz walking down the yellow brick road in her signature gingham dress
Photograph: Victorian OperaIl Mago di Oz, Victorian Opera 2022

Victorian Opera returns in 2022 with a lively, dynamic season

The Who’s rock opera Tommy has its Australian debut alongside exciting all-ages productions and two world premieres

Nicola Dowse

After two years of almost silent stages, Victorian Opera is charging into 2022 with one of its boldest, most exciting and dynamic seasons yet. In 2022 audiences can look forward to eight productions from the company, including three Australian works and two world premieres. Victorian Opera’s artistic director, Richard Mills, says: “This is the season of a 21st-century opera company, celebrating what is new and diverse in the context of masterpieces from the canon.” 

Of course The Who’s Tommy steals the program with its rock opera glitz and glamour (not to mention it’s been twice postponed, driving up the excitement), but there’s plenty more to look out for in Victorian Opera’s 2022 billing.

Victorian Opera: Season 2022

The Who’s Tommy
Feb 22-Mar 1

You wouldn’t necessarily expect an opera company to be taking on the music of the Who, but that’s exactly what Victorian Opera is doing. After the show was postponed twice, the company is staging the first professional Australian production of Tommy at the Palais Theatre, with Acid Queens and Pinball Wizards aplenty. It's both a psychedelic trip to the 1960s and a true underdog story that is going to leave you standing on your seat cheering for more.

Happy End
Mar 23-26

Malthouse Theatre’s artistic director Matthew Lutton is jumping ships temporarily to direct the anti-capitalist musical comedy Happy End. Created by Elisabeth Hauptmann, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, the work originally only ran for seven performances when it premiered in 1929 Berlin, and it was largely ill-received at the time. The Guys and Dolls-esque show of gangsters in 1915 Chicago premiered on Broadway in 1977 (starring Meryl Streep, no less) and will show at Arts Centre Melbourne for three nights only in late March 2022. 

An illustration of Happy End in which a marching brass band plays on a dark Chicago street  in 1915 while a man wearing a trench coat goes to open a car
Photograph: Victorian Opera

The Selfish Giant
28 May

The Oscar Wilde-inspired Australian opera The Selfish Giant is back after debuting to audiences (and winning a Green Room Award along the way) in 2019. Based on Wilde’s fable of the same name, the work was adapted by Emma Muir-Smith and Simon Bruckard, and it serves as Victorian Opera’s annual education production – meaning it will also be streamed in schools and regional cinemas all across Victoria.

Il Mago Di Oz
Aug 27 and 30

Another Victorian Opera production set to delight audiences of all ages is Il Mago di Oz. Those who speak Italian will realise that translates as The Wizard of Oz – yes, this is an opera based on the L. Frank Baum story and subsequent film featuring the wondrous adventures of Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow. The opera premiered in 2016, and this production gives those in the Emerging Artists Program as well as the Youth Orchestra a chance to perform. 

Sep 14

For one night only, Victorian Opera is giving you the chance to see Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Elektra, which is being presented as an epic performance helmed by British soprano Catherine Foster. Expect all the drama of the Sophocles tale of Greek antiquity alongside Strauss and von Hofmannsthal’s modernising influence as Elektra seeks revenge for her father Agamemnon’s death.

The Butterfly Lovers
Oct 12-15

In The Butterfly Lovers Victorian Opera teams up with Singaporean theatre company Wild Rice for this world premiere. The opera is based on a traditional Chinese legend in which two star-crossed lovers, are unable to be together in life but are united forever as butterfly spirits in death. The work stars Cathy-Di Zhang as Yingtai, a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to pursue an education. Along the way she meets Shanbo (Meili Li), whom she befriends and eventually falls in love with. The Butterfly Lovers is composed by Richard Mills with a libretto by playwright and poet Joel Tan. 

La Cenerentola
Nov 25

Victorian Opera is crossing the Bass Strait to bring La Cenerentola to Tasmanians in late 2022. This semi-staged production of Rossini’s Cinderella is a familiar story to many – a young girl is mistreated by her cruel family catches the eye of a handsome prince. La Cenerentola is presented alongside the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and will play for one night only at Launceston’s Princess Theatre. 

An illustration of A Christmas Carol in which a man with a large white beard wearing a suit and tie stands in front of Flinders Street Station. Baubles and Christmas ornaments are overlaid
Photograph: Victorian OperaA Christmas Carol, Victorian Opera 2022

A Christmas Carol
Dec 14-17

Fittingly, the 2022 Victorian Opera season is rounded out by the world premiere of A Christmas Carol. Composed by Graeme Koehne with a libretto by Anna Goldsworthy, the opera adapts the classic Dickensian Christmas tale for the stage in a story that seeks to get audiences reflecting on Melbourne’s multiculturalism. Yes, characters like Scrooge and Tiny Tim make an appearance, but it’s within the context of contemporary Melbourne.

Here's what the Australian Ballet and Melbourne Theatre Company have planned for 2022.

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