Top cast arrives for one of greatest ever operas
For release Thursday 28 August 2014
Top performers arrive for Mozart’s greatest opera
Some of opera’s most warmly regarded and awarded singers are arriving this week from around New Zealand and the world, as rehearsals pick up pace for the Auckland and Wellington seasons of Don Giovanni. Director Sara Brodie’s up-to-the-minute production sets the wit and wonder of Mozart’s finest opera score and his masterful mix of the tragic and comic against intense colours and street scenes of modern-day Spain.
When this new NZO production of Don Giovanni debuted last year in Christchurch, ending an opera drought in the city, English baritone Mark Stone sang the title role, which he now reprises for the Auckland and Wellington premieres. Theatreview wrote: “Mark Stone radiates both physical and vocal assurance”. Radio New Zealand’s Upbeat reviewer, Francis Yapp, found himself admiring and loathing the character thanks to the believable performance by Mark Stone - “very much an actor as well as a singer with a wonderful baritone voice.”
Fresh from success in last week’s Australian Helpmann Awards, where he took Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role, much-loved virtuoso singing actor Warwick Fyfe joins the NZ Opera cast as Leporello, the much-pressed comic accomplice of lothario Don Giovanni. His Helpmann winning performance was in Opera Australia’s Melbourne Ring Cycle, which also took Best Opera. Fyfe previously appeared with NZ Opera in Rigoletto, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and Pagliacci.
Fellow cast member, New Zealander Jud Arthur, describes the baritone as “laconic with a dry sense of humour”, and Warwick admits to the inadvertent surfacing of Benny Hill in some of his memorable characterisations. “My predilection for scary films means there are plenty of nasties swimming about in my subconscious which surface of their own accord when required,” he told the ClassicMelbourne website.
From Wellington, Australian-born soprano Lisa Harper-Brown joins the cast as the aggrieved woman whose father is murdered, sparking the destiny of doom for Don Giovanni. “Lisa Harper-Brown gives a moving and lyrical account of Donna Anna” wrote Theatreview.
Jud Arthur, a former Otago rugby rep and now professional opera bass, comes home to play Donna Anna’s father, the sonorous Commendatore, for whom death is no barrier to avengement. Other well-known and established or rising home-grown principals are Anna Leese, Amelia Berry and current Freemasons Resident Artist, Robert Tucker.
Members of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus in each city populate the square in front of the Hotel Ottavio, join hen or stag parties and cut shapes in the nightclub where the irresistible Don does his worst. If your heart rate speeds with the crowds, the colour and the choruses, you’ll even find paramedics on stage – characters only!
“Here for a good time, not for a long time” is an appropriate slogan for Don Giovanni – the man you’ll love to hate in this most entertaining of operas.
“I never knew Mozart could be that funny,” was one audience reaction heard at the Christchurch opening.
“It’s a film approach in a way and it would go down anywhere in the world,” commented reviewer Francis Yapp. “The future of Opera in New Zealand is very healthy, judging from this production.”
DON GIOVANNI by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
A New Zealand Opera production
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Conductor: WYN DAVIES
Director: SARA BRODIE
Design Adaptation: JOHN VERRYT
Costume Designer: ELIZABETH WHITING
Lighting Designer: JEREMY FERN
Don Giovanni: MARK STONE
Leporello: WARWICK FYFE
Donna Elvira: ANNA LEESE
Donna Anna: LISA HARPER-BROWN
Don Ottavio: JAEWOO KIM
Commendatore: JUD ARTHUR
Zerlina: AMELIA BERRY
Masetto: ROBERT TUCKER
Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington
Featuring the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus
Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
18, 20, 24, 26 September 7.30pm; 28 September 2.30pm
Wellington – St James Theatre
11, 16, 18 October 7.30pm; 14 October 6pm
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New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand and Auckland Council through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act