In a bold response to the pressures opera is facing around the world, Opera Queensland has unveiled a 2015 season that will take the 400-year old art form into new venues and pop-up spaces, and create thousands of opportunities for people to see a performance for the first time or even become part of it.
Artistic Director Lindy Hume said 2015 demonstrated the company’s new direction as it invested in the next generation of audiences and artists, with a diverse program that offered something for opera enthusiasts, music fans, arts adventurers and people who just love big social occasions.
“Last year’s Project Puccini was a turning point for us – by taking hundreds of Queenslanders on the journey with us, not only did we unearth new talent and create new artistic networks across eight regions, we comfortably doubled our box office from our last tour, with enthusiastic audiences wherever we went, many of whom had never been to the opera. It was an unconventional and hugely ambitious project, and a risk well worth taking,” Ms Hume said.
OperaQ’s 2015 season includes performances in unconventional settings – like a Brisbane nightclub and a Darling Downs paddock – and lots of opportunities for the audience to get up close and personal with artists, musicians and fellow adventurers. The company has even moved away from the traditional subscription model to embrace a more festival-like multi-ticket approach.
In an unprecedented initiative to further remove barriers for new audiences, two of the season’s highlights – La traviata and Candide – will tempt new audiences with more than 3,000 tickets for just $25. The company will also give 200 adventurous people the opportunity to rehearse and perform alongside OperaQ artists through the company’s Open Stage workshops.
OperaQ’s 2015 season centrepiece is Verdi’s great romantic tragedy La traviata (7-16 May). Kate Cherry’s Helpmann Award nominated production will bring together some of Australia’s finest international artists in QPAC’s Lyric Theatre, including celebrated baritone Jonathan Summers, Italy-based tenor Aldo di Toro and rising star Emma Pearson. Maestro Johannes Fritzch brings this heartbreaking tale of love, passion and an overprotective father to vivid life, conducting the Opera Queensland Chorus and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
Lindy Hume will direct Leonard Bernstein’s contemporary masterpiece Candide (23 July – 1 August) in the QPAC Playhouse, an exciting and audience-friendly new venue for the company. A rollicking, endlessly optimistic journey and musical tour de force. Candide will feature a smorgasbord of stars including David Hobson, Rachelle Durkin, actor Bryan Probets and Christine Johnstone from the quirky Kransky Sisters. Paul Kildea will conduct the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
In partnership with Queensland Music Festival, the iconic Opera at Jimbour will return on 25 July, transforming a paddock in to the world’s biggest ballroom with a free, semi-staged concert of Johan Strauss’s champagne operetta Fledermaus. A shining cast of Queensland’s favourite singers including Jason Barry-Smith, Shaun Brown and Virgilio Marino will indulge audiences in the risqué tale of hidden identity, deception and revenge.
On 29 March in the heart of Fortitude Valley, is Cloud Song a new way of experiencing opera – patrons will encounter a series of Alice in Wonderland-like performance moments in the enchanted spaces of Cloudland.
With their special charm, tons of style and gorgeous voices, soprano Emily Burke and mezzo Hayley Sugars will share their favourite opera moments in A Morning with Emily and Hayley, brimming with popular operas, backstage stories, charming melodies and a wicked sense of humour on 9 May in the Lyric Theatre.
OperaQ Artistic Director Lindy Hume said there was a vibrant future for opera, and the first half of 2015 was just the beginning.
“This exciting and diverse range of musical experiences represents our offering until August and we are working some exciting plans for later in the year. We have addressed issues such as affordability and accessibility but it is about so much more than that – we want to excite and challenge people and never compromise on excellence,” Ms Hume said.
“The future of OperaQ is grand opera, of course, but also chamber-scale projects, pop-up events in unexpected places and adventures in regional landscapes. We’re creating a rich portfolio of music theatre experiences for opera aficionados and first-timers alike. There’s something for everyone. I have faith that our audiences will respond to the quality of our work and enjoy some new experiences.”
CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE SEASON 2015