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Zany opera to banish recession blues

The Italian Girl in Algiers

The NBR New Zealand
Opera: The Italian Girl in Algiers
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Issued by The NBR New Zealand Opera

4 March 2009

Zany opera to banish recession blues

Modern, sexy, sassy, fun – The NBR New Zealand Opera’s daring new production of The Italian Girl in Algiers, opening in May, is opera as you have most likely never seen it before.

Director Colin McColl and Set Designer Tony Rabbit both have reputations for thinking well outside the square. Their take on The Italian Girl in Algiers will be scintillating and surprising, with much of what they have in store for audiences remaining under wraps until opening night.

“We’re giving audiences a taste of something totally new with this production,” says Colin McColl. “By adopting an untraditional way of looking at this opera buffa favourite we have come up with a concept that hasn’t been done before in this country. Music aside,” he adds, “this opera is basically a very funny sex comedy with all the twists and turns of a daytime soap opera or sitcom, with all the glib morality of that genre. And while I can’t give away exactly the direction we’re taking, I can say that we’ve incorporated something of that in our production – we want it to zing for today’s audiences.”

General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Aidan Lang says that he felt it was time the Company presented a comedy. “While we programmed this opera long before the recession took hold, it now seems timely to be giving audiences a night of pure escapism and zany comedy, a chance to just kick back and have a thoroughly good time. And though this opera does have a fairly madcap plot, it actually bears a strong resemblance to everyday life. There is much to identify with in the characters and how they live their lives.”

A strong contingent of New Zealand singers are secured for the lead roles. London based mezzo soprano Wendy Dawn Thompson – now a major name overseas – is returning to sing the feisty Isabella. The irrepressible Conal Coad takes on the role of the lusty Mustafà. Hot young German tenor Christian Baumgärtel makes his NBR New Zealand Opera debut as Lindoro, and established and highly regarded Australian baritone Warwick Fyfe sings Taddeo. Three talented New Zealanders complete the principal artist line-up: Katherine Wiles has a release from her Opera Australia contract to perform the role of Elvira;

Auckland-based Richard Green sings Haly; and also returning from overseas, The NBR New Zealand Opera’s new PwC Dame Malvina Major Young Artist Kristen Darragh joins the cast as Zulma.

The Company’s esteemed Director of Music, Wyn Davies, takes the podium; alongside him are the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus, Vector Wellington Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Colin McColl and Tony Rabbit are complemented in the creative department by Costume Designer Nic Smillie.

The Italian Girl in Algiers returns to Wellington and Auckland stages after an absence of more than 20 years. A collaboration with Scottish Opera, the production travels to Scotland for a series of performances in October following its New Zealand season.

The Italian Girl in Algiers is energetic, fast and funny – a pure antidote to the recession blues...

The Italian Girl in Algiers

Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 9, Thu 14 and Sat 16 May (7:30pm), Tue 12 May (6:00pm)

Auckland – Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®

Thu 28, Sat 30 May, Thu 4 and Sat 6 June (7:30pm), Tue 2 June (6:30pm)

Single Tickets: $49.50 to $187.50. Concessions available. Service fees apply.

Bookings: The NBR NZ Opera Box Office, Tel (09) 379 4068 or (04) 499 8343, or:

Wellington: Ticketek outlets nationwide, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or

Auckland: The Edge Box office, Tel (09) 357 3355 or visit

Further information at

The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand

The Italian Girl in Algiers is made possible with major support from Pub Charity


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