Music director Christian Curnyn wants to show Australia a lighter side of Handel in bold, tragi-comic romp Partenope.

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I have seen Kanen Breen in some strange and compromising positions in various Opera Australia productions, but I have never, until now, seen him singing through what looks like a bikram yoga routine. Last week I was admitted into the last half-hour of a rehearsal for Handel’s Partenopebefore catching up with the production’s music director, English harpsichordist and conductor Christian Curnyn. It was here that I saw the Australian tenor contorting himself into an upside-down arch even as he fired off a pitch-perfect coloratura aria. I just hope there was a chiropractor waiting in the wings.

Even in this staged rehearsal sansorchestra – piano, harpsichord, theorbo and cello – the singing was so ravishing that Breen’s exotic poses didn’t distract from the music. I was lucky enough to sit in on the denouement of the final act, in which a...

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