Max Riebl, Melbourne’s favourite countertenor has done it again, bringing his latest baroque/pop mash up to the masses with Hard to Handel. After the success of The Great Pretender, Riebl continues to break through the barriers of elitist opera with his down to earth approach to musicianship, and command of the material.
Taking on some of the most difficult aria’s originally sung by the castrato; those young men of the baroque era blessed with angelic voices who in order to maintain their talent were subjected to rigorous training, not to mention the risky procedure of castration in order to prevent vocal changes due to puberty.
Riebl explains these castrati were the first superstars of the music world. Girls would swoon, composers would create great works for their favorite’s and the top performers would command sums of half a million dollars a performance. The comparison is not dissimilar to today’s pop stars, and Riebl effortlessly intertwines modern pop with ancient baroque, finding the similarities between Farinelli and Whitney Houston.
Both exceptional performers who were the finest singers of their era, both a spectacle to behold and both were to an extent one might say “freakishly talented”.
This concept of the “freak” of the “different” and for the castrati, the genderless, is touched upon throughout Hard to Handel, and Riebl finds the balance between humor and respect with the issues that remain at the forefront of today’s news.
But it is of course Riebl’s own freakishly beautiful voice that the audience have come to hear and as he covers some of the more difficult arias of history he does not disappoint.
Mixing it in with some modern superstars, Riebl sings a divine cover of Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t have to Say you Love me” and finished with a very special Radiohead treat for all the fans in the audience. Joined by Adam Cook on keyboard, they are a dynamic duo. Through the magic of music and Riebl’s remarkable talent for bringing opera to the masses, Hard to Handel isn’t so hard after all, in fact, it’s a history lesson for anyone who loves, likes or simply listens to music, from classical to contemporary, Riebl covers all the bases and will leave you breathless with his talent.
The Butterfly Club
Hard To Handel
by Max Riebl
Director Max Riebl
Venue: The Butterfly Club | Carson Place Melbourne
Dates: 23 – 28 April 2018
Tickets: $28 – $32