WA Opera celebrates its half century with three audience favourites and a special gala concert in the park.

West Australian Opera has unveiled a crowd-pleasing 2017 season in recognition of its 50th anniversary. The selections look to celebrate the company’s long history, emphasising the wonders of the voice and the stories of three women.

The birthday celebrations begin on February 4 with Opera in the Park – a free gala concert of operatic hits, conducted by Artistic Director Brad Cohen, in the picturesque setting of Supreme Court Gardens.

The cover image for West Australian Opera’s 2017 subscription brochure. Photo: WA Opera

The season opens in late March with Puccini’s Tosca – a repertory stalwart, which remains as popular as ever with audiences 116 years after its premiere in Rome. Directed by Stuart Maunder, this traditional production arrives in Australia by way of New Zealand Opera. Conducted by Cohen, Puccini’s ‘shabby little shocker’ will be performed by a cast including Australian favourites Antoinette Halloran, Paul O’Neill, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Franz Lehár’s sparkling comedy of manners The Merry Widow will hit the stage in July. One of the most loved operettas in the repertory, The Merry Widow will be sung in English in a brand new Opera Conference production directed by Graeme Murphy. Conducted by Vanessa Scammell, Taryn Fiebig will appear as the eponymous Hanna Glawari, with Alexander Lewis as the dashing Count Danilo, and Emma Pettemerides as the vivacious Valencienne.

The season concludes with Donizetti’s perennial favourite, Lucia di Lammermoor. This revival of John Copley’s production is best known for Joan Sutherland’s fierce assumption of the title role. Stepping into the Dame’s shoes is Emma Pearson, alongside Samuel Dundas as Enrico, and Aldo Di Toro as Edgardo.  Cohen returns to conduct.