The National Opera has announced its 2022 season and with it a host of luminaries, patrons and performers, inviting to wonder if it is a company from Canberra or, as the name suggests, d ‘a “national” organization.
Artistic Director Peter Coleman-Wright strives to emphasize that: “The National Opera is about providing opportunities and jobs for Australian artists – singers, creators, musicians, lighting and costume designers, everyone in the world. arts. We provide a platform for Australian artists.
But the origins of the company and the appointment of the director can be found in its predecessor, Canberra Opera, which emerged from the community organization Canberra Opera Workshop, which aimed to provide opportunities for young artists in Canberra. Through a bequest of $ 500,000 from the John Drabble Fund intended to develop new vocalists in ACT, the Canberra Opera House has evolved into a national opera house.
The Drabble bequest was used in part to mount an expensive but indifferently staged production of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” in 2021, in which ANU-trained singers Catherine Carby and Eleanor Greenwood, who had done well at the UK, were imported and quarantined before taking on lead roles, the company said, giving an “experience” of our professionalism to our young singers, who were largely relegated to the choir.
This year’s theme, says Coleman-Wright, is threefold – “Hope, Respect and Collaboration” – hope, he says, for the future and revitalization of the arts industry in a post-covid Australia, respect for the art form, for the past and for Australian artists who work hard and collaborate to provide opportunities for people across the art community.
A famous opera baritone whose wife, soprano Cheryl Barker, taught vocals at the ANU School of Music, the director has used his considerable connections to attract big names, including Australian superstar Emma Matthews, who will play the title role. in Handel’s “Alcina” and conductor Richard Bonynge, who will join the Governor General and Mrs. Hurley as patron.
The first in March will be the long postponed broadcast of Puccini’s “La Rondine”, now wisely transferred from Llewellyn Hall to the Canberra Theater, with Australian singer Lauren Fagan returning from Europe to perform the central role of Magda, opposite the tenor. Henry Choo. .
In June, Coleman-Wright will present his own pocket opera version of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte”, with local singers and performed with Canberra Sinfonia under the direction of Leonard Weiss, successor to his highly successful pocket opera “Marriage de Figaro “last year.
In his role as guest artistic director of the Pacific Opera in Willoughby, Coleman-Wright had done the same pocket operas before transferring the concept and most of the casting to the National Opera.
In August, the company will host an opera choir gala, conducted by dramatic soprano Sonia Anfiloff as guest soloist and sung by a large opera choir working with the National Capital Orchestra, conducted by local Louis Sharpe.
Finally, in December 2022, the National Opera will present Handel’s “Alcina”, under the baton of specialist Handel Graham Abbott, with Emma Matthews in the title role as well as Rachelle Durkin and Tobias Cole from Canberra.
This production will be dedicated to the late diva Joan Sutherland and her husband, Bonynge, whose appointment as new patron, Coleman-Wright, says: honored to have accepted our invitation.
The national opera season at a glance:
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Ian Meikle, editor