2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Queensland state opera company. Opera Queensland will celebrate this milestone with two powerful Puccini dramas forming the top and tail of its core season and a delightful Mozart comedy delivering the light relief in between. The Girl of the Golden West and Tosca will have two of Puccini’s formidable leading ladies, Minnie and Tosca, commanding the Lyric Theatre stage in May and October respectively, while in July, Mozart’s Così fan tutte will see Fiordiligi and Dorabella landing themselves in all sorts of strife in the Conservatorium Theatre.
The Queensland debut of Nigel Jamieson’s visually spectacular production of The Girl of the Golden West will launch the season in May. Puccini drew his inspiration for this opera from the American Gold Rush. To create the backdrop of California’s Wild West in this clever interpretation, the creative team have used projected imagery and historical film footage from the 1950s to give the production an amazing cinematic feel. A superb cast of Australian and international artists will come together to present this fabulous opera to Queensland audiences. In her Australian (and role) debut, Italian soprano Amarilli Nizza performs the role of Minnie. UK-based, Australian tenor Julian Gavin returns to Brisbane to perform the role of Dick Johnson, alongside three outstanding Australian baritones: Douglas McNicol as Jack Rance, José Carbó as Sonora and Andrew Collis as Ashby.
July’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte will be in the hands of David Berthold (La Boite Theatre Company’s Artistic Director) who will be making his Opera Queensland directorial debut. Utilising Christopher Smith’s designs from the 2000 production, Berthold will direct this work afresh for the 2011 season, working his own creative vision into Mozart’s comic romp. He will lead a wonderful cast of talented Australian artists to bring this renewed work to the Conservatorium Theatre stage. German-based, Brisbane soprano Leanne Kenneally returns home to sing the role of Fiordiligi alongside mezzo-soprano Zoe Taylor as Dorabella, with baritone Shaun Brown and tenor Virgilio Marino as their fiancés Guglielmo and Ferrando respectively.
July will also see the extension of the company’s Waltzing Our Matilda production with one Brisbane performance, after which time the show will tour South East and Central Queensland covering at least seven centres throughout August. The original 2009 cast will reprise their roles for the 2011 season with Jason Barry-Smith as Banjo Paterson, Emily Burke as the Dame Nellie Melba, Zoe Taylor as Gladys Moncrieff, Guy Booth as Peter Dawson and David Kidd as Donald Smith. Some of the performances will also feature Donald Smith’s real-life son Robin Smith appearing as a special guest artist.
Tosca will bring the season to a stunning close in October with the incomparable Cheryl Barker performing the title role in John Copley’s critically acclaimed production, to be directed by the legendary Copley himself in his Opera Queensland debut. Barker will be joined on stage by Julian Gavin as Cavaradossi, Douglas McNicol as Baron Scarpia, John Bolton Wood as Sacristan, Virgilio Marino as Spoletta and Andrew Collis as Angelotti.
Leading the combined talents of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Queensland Chorus in the 2011 Season will be conductors Peter Robinson for The Girl of the Golden West, Stephen Mould for Così fan tutte and Nicholas Braithwaite for Tosca.
The mainstage season will be complemented by two additional concerts which will be available to subscribers as optional events: an intimate concert by internationally acclaimed counter-tenor Andreas Scholl at the Concert Hall on 23 March at 7pm (presented by Musica Viva in association with Opera Queensland) and the fabulous duo David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes in Concert at the Concert Hall on 23 November at 8pm (presented by Andrew McKinnon also in association with Opera Queensland).
In 2011, the company will maintain its commitment to reaching audiences of all ages through a variety of programs and workshops which come under its Opera Works banner. Secondary schools will continue to receive the Moving Opera! program which will be presented to schools in the Brisbane metropolitan area and regional Queensland centres including Chinchilla, Biloela, Blackwater and Emerald. Students from Prep to Year 8 will be entertained by the chamber opera Space Encounters which will be presented to primary schools in the Brisbane metropolitan area, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coasts and Toowoomba. The Young and Developing Artist Programs will continue to foster the talents of emerging young artists from around the country with seven artists joining next year’s program.
‘Ours has always been a busy company which invests its creative capital in its home state. Not only do we make a massive commitment to Brisbane, but also to the regions of this vast state,’ said Mr Chris Mangin, Opera Queensland’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director. ‘2011 continues this outreach while meeting audiences from five years-of-age to those of us at more mature years. Opera Queensland has cause to celebrate its 30th birthday and wants to invite all Queenslanders to the party.’