Presented by Emma Knights Productions
Reviewed Sunday 9th June 2013
Raise your hand if you have been to a good opera recently.
Maybe you did? Well, keep it up if your kids enjoyed it too.
I can hear it now: “Opera is far too high-brow and elitist for me!” (or something remotely along those lines). Opera, stereotypically, represents one of the paramount echelons of musical performance reserved for the very elite breed of musical aficionados. Emma Knights is here to challenge your perceptions and provide an insight to the true musical mastery that opera can exhibit with Space Encounters, an interactive children’s opera.
Knights’ journey began in Queensland. Following a commission by Opera Queensland, in collaboration with Brisbane-based composer Sean O’Boyle and acclaimed television and film writer Ian McFadyen, Knights has crafted this entertaining, educational masterpiece. Leading on from a successful 3-year tour in Queensland, the halls of CARA are graced with the presence of Space Encounters.
We are told the story of astronauts Jefferson (Lisa Cannizzaro, Soprano) and Harris (Karina Jay, Soprano), as they venture boldly into the unknown, in pursuit of the origin of a mysterious alien message, in the form of short sequence of musical notes. Grappling with fear, anticipation, and duty, Jefferson and Harris discover a barren planet with a sole occupant … the “miserable misanthropist” Zolo (Andrew Turner, Baritone). And so follows an adventure of discovery, music, and science, as Zolo desperately tries to prove his intellectual prowess by showcasing his many “inventions and discoveries”. Suffice to say, all his works have been previously discovered by the human race countless years prior (magnetism, photosynthesis, ‘Lisa the Mona’, amongst others).
The enrichment of language throughout the performance is exemplary. Clearly these words would fly over the heads of most of the children, but that’s how language development works with kids. They see or hear a new word, they ask about it, they learn about it. As a soon-to-be speech pathologist, I can safely say this modelling of language is just perfect for children’s exposure to literature, arts, science, and music.
The operatic talent of Cannizzaro, Jay, and Turner is something to be admired. Their voices are sublime in every sense, dancing delicately between the virtuous sing-song notes of the very upper level of the soprano range, to the earth rumbling, reverberating bellows that make your hair stand on edge. Their harmony is flawless. The children particularly were gobsmacked by the vocal aptitude of the trio, relishing the opportunity to sing along during the interactive components. Knights’ writing perfectly accompanies the vocal talents. The continuous word play is amusing and witty, and provides countless laughs for the parents and adults of the audience.
Please, please—do yourself a favour and take your children to see this performance. It is a stand-out amongst Australian artistic creations, and my favourite performance to date of the Cabaret Fringe Festival.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Venue: CARA, 98 Woodville Road, Woodville (accessible to the hearing impaired community)
Season: 16, 22 June 2013
Duration: 50 minutes
Tickets: $10.00 – $45.00 (Family booking – 2 adults, 2 children)
Bookings: Cabaret Fringe Festival website