Is it possible for a classical countertenor to transcend into the world of pop, or even become the world’s next rockstar?
Max Riebl (Orchestra Victoria, Royal Philharmonic) is on a mission of self-discovery in his debut solo production, The Great Pretender. After decades of singing baroque, Riebl is turning the tables on classical music, infusing it with pop, jazz, and even some Aussie rock.
It’s a daring project, one of Australia’s most renowned countertenors going rogue and stripping back the complicated classical arrangements, whilst simultaneously adding previously unknown depth to contemporary pop.
Riebl is a great pretender, a chameleon; his commanding stage presence befitting a seasoned opera singer is peppered with quirky humour and self deprecating wit. That is where the beauty of this piece lies; Riebl is bringing opera out of the stuffy concert halls and to the people. And it’s wonderful. Wonderful to hear this music, hear this voice fill the curtained walls of the Wonderland Spiegeltent when he could just as well fill the depths of Carnegie Hall with his soaring voice.
However beneath the breathtaking talent that is Riebl’s vocal ability, he reveals a vulnerability and is an engaging host. Riebl appears just as at home on stage performing in a packed out concert hall as within the intimate setting of the Spiegeltent.
Borrowing songs from Elvis, Judy Garland, and Morrisey to name a few, Riebl shows off his remarkable range, singing from the heart, and with a genuine love and connection to music.
Joined by Ziggy Johnston on guitar, the pair are a striking example of how new and old music can live in harmony (pardon the pun) and that music is universal. Whether you’re a hardcore metal head, pop princess or baroque purist, we are all united by a love for music.
Now that I think about it, Riebl is no pretender; he’s the real deal, an artist in every essence of the word, a musician capable of great things who can weave his way through style, genre and time, taking the audience on a musical history lesson with him.
2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival
The Great Pretender
Venue: Wonderland Spiegeltent | 699 Latrobe Street Docklands (Under the Star)
Dates: 28 – 30 September 2017