Hobart Baroque brings Covent Garden to early music festival putting Tasmania on the map.

Arts impresario Leo Schofield AM today launched a new early music festival in Hobart, exclusive to Tasmania from 12–20 April, 2013.

Dedicated to music of the 17th and 18th centuries, Hobart Baroque opens next year under the auspices of London’s Royal Opera House. In a slightly tongue-in-cheek move, the inaugural opera of the festival will be Haydn’s little-known L’isola disabitata (“the uninhabited island”), with a production and cast direct from Covent Garden featuring New Zealand-born lyric soprano Madeleine Pierard, who sang at today’s Theatre Royal launch.

It will be the first time the Royal Opera House has ever presented a production in Australia. ROH Music Director maestro Antonio Pappano said he was “thrilled that we’ve been invited to open the festival with L’isola dishabitata. I have had the honour of working with many great Australian artists including Dame Joan Sutherland and Sir Charles Mackerras over the years, and it’s wonderful for us to now bring something back.”

The festival will also call upon our Australian Baroque heros, including Melbourne trio Latitude 37 in a program of French music, local soprano Jane Edwards (accompanied by harpist Marshall McGuire in a program of women composers) and, with Pinchgut Opera harpsichordist Erin Helyard, Norway-based countertenor David Hansen, last seen on these shores in Vivaldi’s Griselda and nominated for a Limelight Award in that role. Hansen, who has signed a two-disc deal with Sony Classical, will perform arias from his forthcoming debut album Rivals.

Schofield, 77, lives in Tasmania part-time and says it is his long-held dream to launch a festival that revolves around Hobart’s historic venue, the Theatre Royal. “I was struck by the charm, intimacy and superb acoustic of this gem of Georgian architecture. Over the past eight years I have lobbied, albeit intermittently and subtly, for such a festival and now, with my co-producer Jarrod Carland, the dream is about to become a reality.” 

In stark contrast to the classic theatre, MONA gallery will present two events showcasing early music in an ultra-modern setting: MONACELLO and MONAORGANISM.  

The festival director secured Tasmanian Fovernment funding through Events Tasmania and philanthropist Graeme Wood AM.

Tickets to Hobart Baroque Festival on sale Saturday December 1. www.theatreroyal.com.au