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Category: Reviews – opera and ballet

Orchestra Wellington’s fifth concert excels with last works of Berlioz, Bartok and Tchaikovsky (almost)

By , 15/10/2016
This was the once-a-year event for the young musicians involved with the Hutt Valley Arohanui Strings, the project inspired by the famous Venezuelan institution, El Sistema. They filed in after some of Orchestra Wellington’s players had taken their seats: the more advanced ones taking seats alongside a professional player as mentor; the beginners spread across the front of the stage – some of them looked aged about four. They... read more

Sweeney Todd – powerful and disturbing theatre at St.James’, Wellington

By , 30/09/2016
Stuart Maunder, New Zealand Opera's chief, and the director of the company's current production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd", showing at Wellington's St.James Theatre, called the show in a welcome message written in the programme "a meaty night out at the opera". I admit I took fright for an instant, irrespective of my largely carnivorous food preferences history. It was just that I didn't really fancy watching a series... read more

Annual Wellington Aria Contest final showcases some fine talent

By , 18/09/2016
This year eighteen singers entered for the annual aria contest (it used to be the Hutt Valley Aria, when there was also a Wellington-based contest, run by the Wellington Competitions Society which died in the 1970s). Some names were more familiar to me than others. I had only recalled Laura Loach in a smaller role in last year’s Gondoliers from Wellington G&S Light Opera, but couldn’t recall her voice. Her... read more

Admirably staged and sung opera and music theatre excerpts from the school of music

By , 11/09/2016
The school of music’s once annual opera productions have in recent years fallen back to biennial events. In the between years, students create a series of scenes from opera, against a background of elementary sets and a few props that can, with a bit of imagination, be used in various settings. This production employed around sixteen singers, though the photo gallery in the printed programme contained 23 faces which included... read more

Maaike Christie-Beekman with Rachel Thomson in admirable song recital

A recital entirely of song-cycles is perhaps a little unusual, but it made for a very satisfying concert.  Maaike Christie-Beekman introduced each in a lively and informative way, giving a summary of the words of each song.  Even though she was not using a microphone, most of what she said could be heard clearly. The Debussy cycle used poems by Pierre Louÿs, which the latter claimed were translations of the... read more

Magical I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini) the tenth production by Rhona Fraser’s Opera in Days Bay

By , 27/08/2016
This production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, like the productions of several of the operas done by Rhona Fraser’s Days Bay company, was probably the New Zealand premiere. Though there may have been performances by minor opera groups over recent years, I’m sure no recent professional production would have escaped me. (but see more in the Appendix below) One of the problems with this assumed Shakespeare-modelled piece has been... read more

Don Giovanni scores impressively in performance by Eternity Opera’s second cast

By , 24/08/2016
When I arrived at the theatre at 7pm, I was surprised (and delighted) to find a box office queue out to the street. Though it proved to be largely because there was only one person handling both sales and the collection of already purchased tickets, it did show that the production had attracted high interest, and indeed by 7.30, there was scarcely an empty seat in the house. This was... read more

The Don rides out again – Eternity Opera’s “other” Don Giovanni

By , 20/08/2016
What a delight to be able to enjoy, within the space of a few days, a second, almost entirely different cast performing the same operatic production! Eternity Opera's Don Giovanni had opened on the previous Saturday (reviewed by Middle C, below) and this was the single chance for the "understudy cast" members to demonstrate what they could do in public - with the exception of the Zerlina, Emily Mwila... read more

Opera with energy and excitement – Eternity Opera Company’s Don Giovanni at the Hannah Playhouse

By , 20/08/2016

The name “Eternity Opera” is itself a splendid gauntlet-brandishing gesture, an assertive declaration of overall purpose and intent, reinforced by a note in the programme for Saturday night’s opening of the new company’s season of “Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”–  firstly, “to stage productions that are exciting and accessible to anyone” and, just as importantly, “to support the many talented singers and musicians in the Wellington region”. Judging by what... read more

Brass Poppies – ordinary people at war

By , 03/03/2016

Poet Vincent O'Sullivan and composer Ross Harris have collaborated on no less than eleven words-and-music works since 2002, the most recent being the chamber opera "Brass Poppies". The work received its premiere at Shed 6 in Wellington last week, and after finishing a four-night season has gone on to Auckland's Mercury Theatre where it will play for two more nights later this week.

Though the opera was actually... read more

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