West Australian Opera has revealed its program for 2020, which kicks off with Jimmy Chi’s beloved coming-of-age musical Bran Nue Dae. Presented in association with Perth Festival, the nationally touring Opera Conference production celebrates the work’s 30th anniversary. About a boy who hitchhikes his way from mission school back to Broome in the 1960s, the musical combines rock and roll, gospel, country and blues.
Bran Nue Dae. Photos supplied
Up next is Humperdinck’s beloved Hansel and Gretel, which will form the company’s annual ‘Opera in the Park’ presentation in the Supreme Court Gardens. Featuring the work of media artist Sohan Ariel Hayes, it stars mezzo-soprano Ashlyn Tymms as Hansel and Pia Harris as Gretel, with Christopher van Tuinen conducting.
In February, the company teams up with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Perth Festival to present Beethoven’s Fidelio, in celebration of the composer’s 250th anniversary year. Led by WASO Principal Conductor Asher Fisch, German soprano Christiane Libor stars as Leonore, with Croatian tenor Tomislav Mužek as Florestan. Directed by Clare Watson, the production features dramatic text by Alison Croggon and narration by Eryn Jean Norvill.
Tim Finn. Photo © Sean Finney
Following Fidelio, WA Opera presents a new work by Tim Finn titled Star Navigator. A joint commission with New Zealand Opera and Victorian Opera, it is based on the true story of Tupaia, a Tahitian star navigator who sailed with James Cook on the Endeavour. Star Navigator explores the cultural tensions between the two mariners and will be presented as a staged concert starring bass James Clayton, tenor Ta’u Pupu’a and soprano Marlena Devoe, conducted by Tuinen.
In May, Patrick Nolan stages a mammoth performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah at the University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall with more than 150 performers. Conducted by Tuinen, the soloists are soprano Lisa Harper-Brown, mezzo Chelsea Kluga, tenor Paul O’Neill and Clayton.
Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Photo supplied
Up next is WA Opera’s first mainstage production for 2020, the classic verismo double bill Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Both operas will be directed by Andrew Sinclair, with Cavalleria Rusticana to star Paul O’Neill as Turiddu and Jacqueline Dark as Santuzza. Emma Matthews returns to the stage to star as Nedda in Pagliacci, opposite the Canio of O’Neill and the Tonio of Clayton.
In October, the company presents Raminsh’s youth opera The Nightingale, featuring young performers from Co:3 Australia, WA Youth Orchestra, WA Youth Theatre Company and WA Young Voices. Based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the opera focuses on an Emperor of China who becomes obsessed by the singing of a nightingale.
Bringing the season to a close, WA Opera presents Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed staging of Mozart’s Così fan tutte for Glyndebourne, the first time it has been seen abroad. Conducted by Tuinen, the cast includes Prudence Saunders as Fiordiligi, Amy Yarham as Dorabella, Michael Petruccelli as Ferrando, Samuel Dundas as Guglielmo, José Carbó as Don Alfonso and Julie Lea Goodwin as Despina.