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Comic Opera A First For 2004 Festival

Comic Opera A First For 2004 Festival

The Telecom Opera Elixir of Love (L'elisir d'amore)

By Gaetano Donizetti

A superb international creative team will come together to stage one of the most loved comic operas The Elixir of Love (L'elisir d'amore) at the 2004 New Zealand International Arts Festival (27 February - 21 March) as part of the Telecom Wellington opera season.

Graeme Jenkins, currently Music Director of the Dallas Opera and frequent

guest conductor in the world's leading opera houses, will lead the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The director is Daniel Slater, whose recent successes include productions for the Welsh National Opera, Berlin's Komische Oper, Santa Fe Festival and Austria's Bregenz Festival, and who soon makes his Glyndebourne debut. Laura Hopkins will design the sets and costumes, with lighting design by Rory Dempster. The producer is former New Zealand International Arts Festival Artistic Director Joseph Seelig. The Elixir of Love will be the fifth Festival production he has produced. A dynamic line-up of international cast members will be announced at a later date.

The New Zealand International Arts Festival and The NBR New Zealand Opera have joined forces in their first ever co-production to bring together outstanding artistic talent for one of the most sparkling comedies in the operatic repertoire. This will be the first large-scale New Zealand production of The Elixir of Love and will be staged with the Festival's customary flair.

The NBR New Zealand Opera and the New Zealand International Arts Festival are delighted to be working together. The co-production pulls together a wealth of expertise and resources from both organisations and will enable the Festival opera to be seen in Auckland in 2004.

The co-production will enable as many people as possible to see an outstanding opera with an international cast, says Carla van Zon, Artistic Director of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

"Both the Festival and The NBR New Zealand Opera wanted to stage a comedy in 2004 and The Elixir of Love fitted the brief perfectly. It is the first pure comic opera the Festival has staged. The Elixir of Love is a story with universal appeal, intertwining romance, wit, pathos and passion with some of the most admired, high spirited music ever written," she said.

Alex Reedijk, General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera says he sees the co-production as a great opportunity for the two organisations to pool skills, talent and finances.

"Opera remains one of the most expensive art forms to stage and the co-production provides an important liaison for both organisations given rising opera costs," he said. "The collaboration also means Auckland audiences who would normally miss out on seeing the Festival's opera, will now get the opportunity to see a world-class opera starring top talent in their city."

Peter Walls, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra said the NZSO was delighted to be working on The Elixir of Love as it provided the orchestra with some of the most well-known and loved music ever written to perform.

It is believed that composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) was given just 14 days to write the music for The Elixir of Love in 1832. In the endearing story a shy and awkward young man Nemorino is head-over-heels in love with a beautiful, but unobtainable girl. To win her hand the young hero has to fight off fierce competition from a dashing army officer, and enlist the aid of a quack doctor's love potion.

The Elixir of Love is presented by the New Zealand International Arts Festival and The NBR New Zealand Opera in association with Telecom New Zealand.

The opera goes on to be presented at Auckland's Aotea Centre, with the Auckland Philharmonia in early April.

Conductor - Graeme Jenkins

Graeme Jenkins is currently Music Director of the Dallas Opera and frequent guest conductor at the world's leading opera houses. He was Music Director of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera from 1986 to 1991 and has conducted the Glyndebourne Festival numerous times. He was also former Principal Guest Conductor at the Cologne Opera.

Productions he has directed at the Dallas Opera include Ariodante, Billy Budd, Katya Kabanova, Tosca and Das Rheingold. As Principal Guest Conductor of the Cologne Opera, his productions included Xerxes, Macbeth, Carmen, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Parsifal and The Makropolous Case. He has conducted at Glimmerglass Opera, conducting Handel's Acis and Galatea. He has made concert appearances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Lyon, the Prague Symphony and the Finnish Radio Symphony in Helsinki.

Well known as an excellent musician and a fine conductor throughout Europe and America, Jenkins studied at Cambridge and began his career at the English National Opera.

Director - Daniel Slater

International Director Daniel Slater will direct The Elixir of Love. He has had productions mounted at opera houses including Scottish Opera, Opera Ireland, Komische Oper Berlin and Santa Fe Opera, with productions such as The Barber of Seville, Wozzeck, The Bartered Bride, The Magic Flute, Macbeth, La Boheme and Eugene Onegin. He has upcoming productions at Glyndebourne Opera and next season he will stage Der Vogelhandler at Komische Oper, Berlin.

Slater was born in 1966 and read English at Bristol University, graduating in 1988. In 1995 he received his doctorate from Cambridge University. While at Cambridge he was involved in a number of productions as either director, producer or actor. The start of his career took him to Nottingham Playhouse, the Tricycle Theatre and Salisbury Playhouse. He has translated several German language plays into English.

Costume and set design - Laura Hopkins

Laura Hopkins' current work includes Cosi fan Tutte for the English National Opera, Dido Queen of Carthage at Shakespeare's Globe, A Reckoning at Soho Theatre Company and Cinderella at Bristol Old Vic.

She has worked at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on The Golden Ass and Macbeth, Komische Opera, Berlin on The Barber of Seville, Opera North on Falstaff , RSC at the Barbican with Roberto Zucco, at the Battigniano Festival on Scarlatti, Welsh National Opera on The Rake's Progress and on Leonce and Lena and Candide at the Gate Theatre in London, as well as numerous other productions.

Lighting Designer - Rory Dempster

Rory Dempster's career covers more than 250 productions spanning drama, opera and dance in Europe and the United States. Productions in Australia includes Death in Venice, Tristan unt Isolde and The Eighth Wonder for Opera Australia and productions for the Sydney Theatre Company, the Melbourne Theatre Company and the Queensland Theatre Company.

In 2003 Dempster's work will include Breath of Life for Sydney Theatre Company, Otello for Opera Australia, Sweeney Todd for Royal Opera House Covent Garden and a revival of The Marriage of Figaro for the Welsh National Opera. Dempster was lighting designer for the 2002 New Zealand International Arts Festival opera, Der Rosenkavalier.

Producer - Joseph Seelig

London-based arts manager and festival programmer Joseph Seelig has been Associate Director of the New Zealand International Arts Festival since 2002.

Seelig has had extensive experience as an international arts manager, venue operator and Festival director. He was the Festival's Artistic Director from 1996 to 2000 and has been responsible for the last four international opera projects mounted by the Festival, Katya Kabanova, Fidelio, Simon Boccanegra and Der Rosenkavalier.

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