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Category: Reviews – opera and ballet

Mozart’s Don Giovanni from the new Wellington Opera Company – a promising beginning

By , 20/04/2021
How refreshing to read in the programme accompanying Wellington Opera’s “Don Giovanni” an appreciation of Mozart’s and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s opera from the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, thus: “Quite apart from the exquisite pleasures of Mozart’s score, it (the opera) offers a timeless plot line that will resonate with audiences in the “Me Too” era.” For me, that sums up in a nutshell the potential for a... read more

Sleep-walking as Rhona Fraser’s Days Bay Opera returns with a delightful Bellini masterpiece

By , 12/02/2021
In common with most of the world, Bellini is no longer a famous composer in New Zealand; his operas are now rarely performed. Of Bellini’s operas only Norma gets much attention. I’m only aware of Canterbury Opera’s production of it in 2002, since its last professional production by a touring company in 1928. However, in 2016 Rhona Fraser’s Opera in a Days Bay Garden was responsible for a somewhat rarer... read more

NZ Opera’s “Eight Songs for a Mad King” a brilliant, Janus-faced experience

By , 02/03/2020
Firstly, some background for the curious – the “King” of this concert’s title is King George III of England, who suffered from mental illness throughout his adult life, eventually being removed from his throne and kept under lock and key in Windsor Castle. Over his final decade he lost his eyesight and hearing, and fell prey to frequent manic episodes, by all accounts babbling endlessly as he slid into... read more

Poulenc’s “La Vox Humaine” given a stunning performance

By , 31/01/2020
As we took our seats in the confined spaces of Cuba St.’s Suite gallery, pianist Gabriela Glapska was playing the music of Satie, beautifully coalescing the sounds of the composer’s Gymnopedies, the dance figurations wrought by the pianist almost as “held” as if depicted on a Grecian urn and the tones as “imagined” as they were real - “heard melodies are sweet, but…..” – here, time seemed to be... read more

Helen Moulder and Sir Jon Trimmer warmly invite all of us to “meet Karpovsky” at Wellington’s Circa Theatre

By , 06/11/2019
I thought, both for myself and for the readers of “Middle C”, I’d explore the colourful genesis of Circa’s current production “Meeting Karpovsky”, as it was something I for one knew very little about, having not seen the original 2002 production. It all came about through actress Helen Moulder wanting to bring to fruition a long-held desire to be able to dance with Sir Jon Trimmer, the doyen of... read more

Enthralling and disturbing – NZ Opera’s take on Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw”

By , 03/10/2019
  It’s difficult to think of another opera whose overall theme, story-line and characterisations are more interlaced by ambiguities as Britten’s The Turn of the Screw –  the story on which the opera is based, Henry James’ novella of the same name, carries its own versions of much the same kinds of imponderables, though the opera seems, if anything, to further complicate and intensify the issues. The story tells of... read more

Intense, heartfelt and involving – Verdi’s Rigoletto from Eternity Opera at the Hannah Playhouse

By , 23/08/2019
I can’t think of a better instance of a small opera company bringing forth by dint of its own efforts a production with the commitment and calibre of Eternity Opera’s production of “Rigoletto”, which we saw at Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse on Friday evening. I won’t go as far as proclaiming this “the best so far” of the company’s productions in this venue, as comparisons of that sort are odious... read more

Two out of three from Puccini’s Il Trittico boldly and confidently presented by the NZSM

By , 19/07/2019
When Giacomo Puccini first penned his Il Trittico (Triptych), consisting of three short operas designed to fill a single evening (premiered as such in New York in December 1918), various considerations combined to elevate the third of these works, the rollickingly comic Gianni Schicchi, to pride of place in the public’s affections, leaving the other two, the violent, bloody Il Tabarro (The Cloak) and the somewhat sanctimonious Suor Angelica... read more

A joyful, exhilarating Barber of Seville, New Zealand Opera’s first offering of the year

By , 29/06/2019
Colourful, joyful, exhilarating are the words to describe this production of the Barber of Seville. From the very beginning of the Overture, taken at a moderate steady tempo that let every phrase be clearly articulated, we know that we are in for a treat. When the action starts with the chorus, the serenaders, horsing around it is clear that this will be an entertaining show. Almaviva, John Tessier enters... read more

A triumphant culmination of Pinchgut Opera’s work in Sydney: Hasse’s Artaserse

By , 05/12/2018
Though exposure to pre-Mozart opera, even of Gluck, has been infrequent in New Zealand, a great deal of 17th and 18th century opera has become main-stream in the Northern Hemisphere. There is hardly a composer of that period, acclaimed in his (or her) lifetime and then forgotten for 200 years, whose music has not been brushed off in recent years and played in a way that echoes the way... read more

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