Presented by State Opera SA
Reviewed 17 April 2015
Making opera more accessible is one of State Opera’s aims over the next few years. As a part of that move, they are presenting two double-bills this year: evenings of two, one-act operas. The first one premiered on 17 April.
Il Segreto di Susanna by Wolf-Ferrari, is a deliciously funny piece about cigarettes, marriage, love and secrets. The beautifully simple, but effective, art deco set formed a visually delightful background to the outstanding performances of Naomi Hede as Susanna, and Joshua Rowe as Gil. These two wonderful singers delivered irresistible music, whilst maintaining sharp, comic timing. They were ably served, in more ways than one, by Rod Schultz, who took the non-singing role of Sante, their servant. His physical antics and facial expressions were comedically spot-on, and it was a joy to see the three performers working together so seamlessly. This was Noel Coward meets Puccini, and impossible not to love.
Bluebeard’s Castle by Bartok, although thematically linked to the first piece, could not have been more different in terms of music and mood. Dark, gothic, intense, and moving, this exquisite composition was interpreted with depth by Jeremy Tatchell as Bluebeard, and Deborah Johnson as Judith. Their on-stage chemistry drove this piece, gripping the audience. Two great voices were supported by Naomi Hede, Alexandra Gard and Daniele Taddeo, in the non-singing roles of the three wives. Taddeo was also assistant director and movement coach for the production, and deserves a special mention for her work in this area.
This was an orchestra-less production, relying on brilliant work from repetiteur Andrew Georg, on piano, wonderfully assisted by Andrew Wiering on percussion, for Bluebeard’s Castle.
This was a night of operatic perfection. It was just disappointing (and somewhat bemusing) that is was only scheduled for two nights, and during school holidays. If one of State Opera’s remits is to encourage new audiences, and make opera more accessible, then I would have thought that a schools’ production would have been in order. This double-bill would be a perfect intro for the average teenager.
The next double-bill will be Bastien und Bastienne by Mozart, and La Chanson de Fortunio by Offenbach, on 9 and 10 October 2015. Book now!
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: The Opera Studio, 216 Marion Road, Netley
Season: 17 – 18 April 2015 only