Artistic Director Patrick Nolan’s second season for Opera Queensland has something for everyone. Beginning with Lorelei, an irreverent opera cabaret by Julian Langdon, Casey Bennetto and Gillian Cosgriff, the work’s inclusion reflects the director’s well-established interest in new work. A feminist take on the myth of the Lorelei, beautiful women who lured sailors to their deaths in the Rhine, the work received its world premiere in 2018 by Victorian Opera. Limelight‘s Patricia Maunder hailed it as a “fun, accessible work driven by powerful contemporary ideas.”
Dimity Shepherd, Antoinette Halloran and Ali McGregor. Photo © Pia Johnson
“Lorelei subverts the traditional Siren’s tale,” said Artistic Director Patrick Nolan. “We encounter three different versions of the Siren, each questioning the assumptions of their mythic status, changing their tune and their sense of identity in the process. The result is ‘part-cabaret, part-opera, all seduction’.”
“We believe in investing in Australian artists and developing a body of Australian work that will survive and thrive for years to come,” he added.
Its original cast – Ali McGregor, Dimity Shepherd and Antoinette Halloran, described by Limelight as “a trio of talented actor-singers” – returns for its Queensland outing.
Patrick Nolan. Photo supplied
After Lorelei, OQ and Queensland Performing Arts Centre will present Jimmy Chi’s beloved musical Bran Nue Dae, which tours nationally next year in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Set in 1960s Western Australia, it sees its protagonist hitchhike his way to Broome to win the heart of the girl he left behind.
“We are committed to telling Australian stories. Bran Nue Dae is a loving and joyous celebration of Indigenous culture,” said Nolan. “This is a story about hope and the power of learning from the past. Revisiting it after 30 years allows us to reflect again on its message of ‘we are all one under the sun’.”
Simon O’Neill. Photo © Albert Comper Photography
As announced in June, OQ will be presenting Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in a semi-staged production by Nolan. Led by Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen, who has conducted the Ring and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for Opera Australia, it stars New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill and American soprano Meagan Miller in the title roles.
“There are very few people on the planet who can sing Tristan und Isolde and we worked in collaboration with Pietari to cast world-acclaimed New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill and American soprano Meagan Miller,” Nolan said.
“Tristan und Isolde is one of the most powerful operas you will ever hear and by including it in Season 2020, Opera Queensland highlights how glorious operatic storytelling can be,” he said. ”We chose to stage this in the Concert Hall as Wagner’s music is rich and lush and in placing the orchestra on stage, audiences can be completely immersed in his musical world.”
Natalie Aroyan as Aida. Photo supplied
The main stage season concludes with Verdi’s Aida, a co-production with OA also announced in June. Directed by David Livermore, the digital staging premiered in Sydney last year, and will star Natalie Aroyan in the title role, Elena Gabouri as Amneris, Diego Torre as Radames and Amartuvshin Enkhbat as Amonasro. Francesco Lanzillotta conducts.
“There is an energy to this production of Aida audiences won’t have encountered before,” said Nolan. “It is a very dynamic and highly-visual experience, a beautiful expression of the music and a spectacular way to explore Verdi’s blockbuster opera.”
Nolan’s production of Tosca, which premiered in June and updates the action to 1970s Italy, will tour regionally in 2020. Halloran returns to the company for the title role, with Rosario La Spina as Cavaradossi and José Carbó returning as Scarpia. Vanessa Scammell conducts the Queensland Symphony Orchestra Ensemble.
Joseph Calleja. Photo supplied
The line-up for OQ’s Concert Series comprises mezzo-soprano Hayley Sugars in a recital devoted to songs about love; pianist Alex Raineri and scholar Peter Bassett exploring the world of Wagner through his letters and music; José Carbó in a program charting the trajectory of his career; Jason Barry-Smith in a recital inspired by the “seven ages” of man; tenor Bradley Daley performing songs by Wagner and Strauss; and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja on his debut Australian tour.