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Tragedy, comedy and history underpin 2012 opera season

MEDIA RELEASE

Issued by The NBR New Zealand Opera

EMBARGOED until 2pm, Wednesday 5 October 2011

Tragedy, comedy and history underpin 2012 opera season

The NBR New Zealand Opera has announced its 2012 Season, revealing an exciting and diverse programme for audiences.

Three operas will be staged in 2012: two main-stage productions in Auckland and Wellington – a new production of Verdi’s much-loved Rigoletto, and Smetana’s comic masterpiece The Bartered Bride; and Hōhepa, a new opera, having its world première at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

HŌHEPA

(15 – 18 March, Wellington)

The true story of the friendship between Maori chief Hōhepa and Pakeha settler Thomas Mason during the New Zealand Wars is told in Jenny McLeod’s ground-breaking new work Hōhepa, premièring at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

Jenny McLeod, widely respected as one of New Zealand’s foremost composers, took up the task of writing the libretto and music of Hōhepa in the late ’90s. Since then, her research has been extensive, based on recorded, personal and oral histories, and the result is a warm and at times humorous opera, epic yet very human at heart.

General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Aidan Lang, says: “In the early days of our discussions with Jenny, we envisaged Hōhepa as being a chamber opera. Now, through the support of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, we are thrilled to be able to present Hōhepa on a much larger scale, to incorporate dance, as well as a large cast of singers, and to do justice to this important New Zealand story.”

Bringing Hōhepa to life on stage is New Zealand director Sara Brodie with Tony de Goldi designing the set and costumes. Alongside them are video artist Louise Potiki-Bryant, lighting designer Jeremy Fern, assistant director and choreographer Taiaroa Royal, and cultural advisor Paraone Tai Tin. With this creative team, audiences can expect a dynamic production.

A high-calibre cast, comprising almost entirely New Zealand talent, has been secured. Returning from the UK to sing the title role is The NBR New Zealand Opera’s PwC Dame Malvina Major Young Artist, Phillip Rhodes. Alongside him are fellow New Zealanders Jonathan Lemalu, Jenny Wollerman, Martin Snell, Deborah Wai Kapohe, Eddie Muliaumaseali'i and Robert Tucker. A further ten singers take the remaining roles and form the ensemble.

Hōhepa will be accompanied by players from the Vector Wellington Orchestra, conducted by Marc Taddei.


HŌHEPA by Jenny McLeod

Presented by The NBR New Zealand Opera and the New Zealand International Arts Festival


CREATIVE TEAM

Conductor MARC TADDEI

Director SARA BRODIE

Production Designer TONY DE GOLDI

Video Designer LOUISE POTIKI BRYANT

Lighting Designer JEREMY FERN

Assistant Director/Choreographer TAIROA ROYAL

Cultural Advisor PARAONE TAI TIN


CAST

Hōhepa PHILLIP RHODES

Jane Mason JENNY WOLLERMAN

Thomas Mason/Carver NICKY SPENCE

Te Kumete/Blackie JONATHAN LEMALU

Te Rai/Kui DEBORAH WAI KAPOHE

Te Tokotoko/Te Waha RAWIRI PARATENE

Governor Grey/Warder Imrie/Settler MARTIN SNELL

Kaparatehau EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI’I

Prout/Army Major/Reporter/Settler ROBERT TUCKER

Settler EMMA ROXBURGH

Te Pau/Puaha MOSES MACKAY

Delphina/Maori ELISHA FAI

Settler/Soldier ANDREW GRENON

Settler BIANCA ANDREW

Ensemble EMMA FRASER

Ensemble STEPHEN DIAZ

Ensemble AMITAI PATI


HŌHEPA


Wellington – The Opera House

Thu 15 & Sat 17 March – 7.30pm, Sun 18 March – 5pm


RIGOLETTO

(19 – 26 May, Wellington; 7 – 17 June, Auckland)

Rigoletto is full of soaring music which makes one feel one's heart is going to burst. Dramatically [the title role] is to an opera singer what Hamlet or King Lear is to an actor. It is the zenith of the Verdi baritone repertoire.” – Warwick Fyfe, Rigoletto

Opera doesn’t get more melodramatic than Rigoletto, Verdi’s heart-breaking tale of love and deception. Rigoletto is also a firm favourite with audiences, and amid a flow of glorious melody features one of opera’s most recognisable arias, “La donna è mobile”.

Aidan Lang says “Rigoletto is an emotionally charged opera and this new, New Zealand Opera production will be a Rigoletto of our times; it will be topical.

“Our style is to offer a judicious re-examination of the operas we perform. We make old war horses come alive again. And under the direction of Lindy Hume, whose 2007 Lucia di Lammermoor so thrilled its audiences, this Rigoletto will certainly be alive. Lindy’s productions are always intelligent and well thought out theatrically. Her approach enables her to achieve exemplary performances from her singers, and with the line-up in this production, she’ll produce some great results.”

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s Director of Music, Wyn Davies, conducts a top-notch cast including Warwick Fyfe in the great central role of Rigoletto. Emma Pearson returns from her triumphant Susanna in 2010 to sing his daughter Gilda, and Rafael Rojas plays the philandering Duke of Mantua. Egyptian bass baritone Ashraf Seweilam takes the role of Sparafucile, and New Zealanders Kristen Darragh and Rodney McCann sing Maddalena and Count Monterone respectively.


RIGOLETTO by Giuseppe Verdi


CREATIVE TEAM

Conductor WYN DAVIES

Director LINDY HUME

Production Designer RICHARD ROBERTS

Lighting Designer JASON MORPHETT


CAST

Rigoletto WARWICK FYFE

Duke of Mantua RAFAEL ROJAS

Gilda EMMA PEARSON

Sparafucile ASHRAF SEWAILAM

Maddalena KRISTEN DARRAGH

Count Monterone RODNEY MACANN

Count Ceprano JAMES CLAYTON

Matteo Borsa DEREK HILL

Cavaliere Marullo MATTHEW LANDRETH

Countess Ceprano EMMA FRASER

Giovanna WENDY DOYLE

The Usher MOSES MACKAY


Accompanied by the Vector Wellington Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus


RIGOLETTO


Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 19 May (7.30pm), Tue 22 May (6pm), Thu 24 May (7.30pm), Sat 26 May (7.30pm)


Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Thu 7 Jun (7.30pm), Sat 9 Jun (7.30pm), Wed 13 Jun (7.30pm), Fri 15 Jun (7.30pm), Sun 17 Jun (2.30pm)


** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

THE BARTERED BRIDE

(22 – 29 September, Auckland; 13 – 20 October, Wellington)

“... the show zips along, joyfully, liberatingly. Pure heaven.” – The Times, UK

“… one of the most vivaciously animated productions in years.” – The Guardian, UK

Bedřich Smetana’s dream to establish a Czech national opera was realised with The Bartered Bride, his second opera, and the first Czech opera to become a worldwide hit.

An effervescent, comic look at Bohemian life, The Bartered Bride is a tale of true love prevailing despite the best efforts of a scheming marriage broker and a couple of social-climbing parents.

Aidan Lang says he is excited to be presenting The Bartered Bride to New Zealand audiences, particularly as it is the highly acclaimed Opera North production directed by Daniel Slater.

“This is a thoughtful and highly engaging production,” he says; “it’s a comedy, but with an edge to it. Daniel directs it at a very human level and paints clearly the dilemmas the characters go through. He takes the piece at face value, deliberately moving away from a folkloric look and instead dealing with real people in real situations.

“The result is a potent piece of comedic theatre.”

A largely New Zealand cast has been secured with principal roles taken by Anna Leese, Conal Coad, Patricia Wright, Helen Medlyn, Richard Green and Andrew Glover.

And returning following critical acclaim as conductor of 2011’s Cav & Pag is Oliver von Dohnányi, Director of the State Opera of Prague and the original conductor of this production when it was performed in the UK.

“With a famous overture that promises an even madder day than The Marriage of Figaro – and delivers on that promise – our Bartered Bride is a political comedy featuring polkas, fights, excessive amounts of Czech beer, a brilliant anti-Communist circus and a dancing Russian bear.”
– Daniel Slater, Director


THE BARTERED BRIDE by Bedřich Smetana


CREATIVE TEAM

Conductor OLIVER VON DOHNÁNYI

Director DANIEL SLATER

Associate Director/Choreographer TIM CLAYDON

Production Designer ROBERT INNES HOPKINS

Lighting Designer SIMON MILLS


CAST

Mařenka ANNA LEESE

Jenik PETER WEDD

Kecal CONAL COAD

Vašek ANDREW GLOVER

Esmeralda TARYN FIEBIG

Krušina RICHARD ALEXANDER

Ludmila PATRICA WRIGHT

Micha RICHARD GREEN

Hata HELEN MEDLYN


Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra

With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus


THE BARTERED BRIDE


Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Sat 22 Sep (7.30pm), Tue 25 Sep (6.30pm), Thu 27 Sep (7.30pm), Sat 29 Sep (7.30pm)


Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 13 Oct (7.30pm), Tue 16 Oct (6pm), Thu 18 Oct (7.30pm), Sat 20 Oct (7.30pm)


The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand and Auckland Council through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act


ENDS


Further information: www.nzopera.com


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