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Opera's Classic Line-Up For 2004

Opera's Classic Line-Up For 2004

An intoxicating love potion brewed for a shy hero; a tormented jester; a frivolous foursome; and a fiery gypsy-woman - a taste of the intrigue and characters that awaits opera audiences from The NBR New Zealand Opera's 2004 season, announced today.

The 2004 season line-up brings to the opera stage four of the world's best-loved and popular operas including three in fresh new productions; a national, annual winter tour; the inclusion of a third, mainstage production for Auckland and Wellington; some of the very best international and home-grown opera performers and creative talent; the return of three of this country's finest young opera singers from overseas to perform principal roles; and new strategic alliances and sponsor partnerships.

The three mainstage productions for Wellington and Auckland include:

* The Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love in March

* The NZI Winter Season of Rigoletto in June

* The Genesis Spring Season of Carmen in September/October

* Building on the success of 2003, a winter touring production of Cosi Fan Tutte will travel to 13 centres during June, July and August.

"2004 builds upon our successful new and daring initiatives and partnerships forged in 2003," says Alex Reedijk, General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera.

"We've started the process of taking opera into new territory to fulfil our overriding ambition to tell wonderful, human stories with glorious music, imaginative design and deliver a fabulous opera experience to more New Zealanders.

"2004 will see us take this further. We have now committed to making the Winter Tour an annual fixture as well as having reinstated the winter mainstage production with the marvellous support of a new sponsor - NZI. In addition, we have formed a new joint venture with the New Zealand International Arts Festival, to stage a co-production. All of this will ultimately mean more people get to experience the magic of opera."

Uncorking a potion of emotion

The NBR New Zealand Opera joins forces with the New Zealand International Arts Festival for their first ever co-production of The Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love (subs 26/06 and 21/10). Uncorking a potion of emotion, The Elixir promises to fizz with romance, wit, high spirits, passion and pathos as the nerdy hero fights off the good-looking competition to win over a beautiful debutante.

"We're delighted that this joint venture will enable Auckland audiences to enjoy for the first time, a lustrous New Zealand Festival opera production in their city," says Alex Reedijk. "This features a truly international cast and creative team, including the return to these shores of two of New Zealand's own - Paul Whelan and Katherine Wiles."

This new production, directed by acclaimed English director Daniel Slater and designed by Laura Hopkins, is set in a 1980s Californian high school on the day of the prom. Distinguished conductor, Graeme Jenkins will conduct the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Wellington) and the Auckland Philharmonia (Auckland). The sexy young cast includes Canadian soprano, Rebecca Caine as Adina; American tenor, Richard Troxell as the nerdy hero, Nemorino, and Italian baritone Riccardo Novaro as the dashing beau, Belcore. London-based Paul Whelan will perform as Doctor Dulcamara and Katherine Wiles as Gianetta.

A tormented jester

The NZI Winter Season of Rigoletto sees the formation of a new principal sponsor partnership with NZI parent company, IAG. It also sees the return of a winter mainstage season in Auckland and Wellington, alongside that of the Winter Tour.

The intense drama and sublime music of Verdi's Rigoletto have made it one of the world's favourite operas. In this new production led by Matthew Richardson, director of 2003's bold and highly acclaimed Boris Godunov, and conducted by renowned conductor Nicholas Braithwaite, the story of aristocratic arrogance, fatherly love and a terrifying curse comes to the stage in all its power. At the centre of the action, the tormented jester, Rigoletto, will be performed by leading Australian baritone, Michael Lewis. Joining him in the role of Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter, is the gorgeous Italian soprano, Maria Contanza Nocetini - described by one critic as having the voice of a pre-Rafaelite angel.

"A favourite among opera lovers, expect this new production to be edgy and riveting drama," says Reedijk.

A frivolous and faithful foursome

The Winter Tour of Cosi Fan Tutte brings to 13 stages throughout New Zealand a vibrant, tuneful romp and a penetrating look at the games lovers play. Produced in association with boutique opera touring company, Class Act Opera, Cosi will once again feature a young, lively cast.

Audiences in Gisborne, Tauranga, Auckland, North Shore, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Greymouth and Wellington, along with three new centers - Rotorua, Wanganui and Blenheim - will experience a funny and insightful look at the age-old question: how much can you trust your lover? This harmonious and perfectly proportioned opera contains some of Mozart's most appealing and playful music.

The same clever creative team who made 2003's The Barber of Seville such a hit, come together again to deliver a Cosi that is sure to put a sparkle in every lover's eye.

A fiery gypsy turns up the heat

The world's number one opera never dims in its fiery appeal.

The Genesis Spring Season of Carmen guarantees an exhilarating night's entertainment, with thrilling music and compelling and tragic drama.

The season sees the welcome return to New Zealand of UK-based Wellington soprano, Sarah Castle in the title role, en route to her debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera in Carmen. Audiences will remember Castle's acclaimed performances in the company's 2002 production of The Marriage of Figaro, in which she performed as Cherubino.

Reedijk comments that the 2004 season is part of the company's overall long-term plan that will see more challenging opera works staged in 2005 and beyond, including the production of a new New Zealand opera piece.

"In our choice of popularist works for next year, we are in fact developing three fresh new productions giving renewed perspectives on old favourites, while at the same time developing key strategic partnerships for the future that will enable us to be more adventurous and importantly, make opera available to more people. The glorious music and underlying richness of these opera classics, remains true. We are simply invigorating them and giving people what I know will be a captivating and exhilarating night out."

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