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New Zealand’s brightest opera stars in Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet -- Auckland Opera Studio farewells brightest stars

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New Zealand’s brightest opera stars in Romeo & Juliet
24 & 26 August
Mercury Theatre, Auckland

New Zealand’s brightest opera stars will celebrate their swansong performance on home soil in a fiery yet intimate production of one of the world’s best-known stories of thwarted love, Romeo and Juliet at the Mercury Theatre next month.

Award-winning singers Madison Nonoa and Filipe Manu will play the leads in Auckland Opera Studio’s two 90-minute, two-act production of the great and angry Vincenzo Bellini opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Written in 1829 it is the story of Romeo & Juliet and the Libretto is from the from the Italian Giulietta e Romeo written two years before. It has remained a staple on the opera stages of the world since its first performance on the 11 March, 1830.

This opera, is full of drama, anger, courage, love and desperation as the two opposing Mafia families fight it out over the consequences of the proposed union (desired by Romeo and Juliet) of these historically opposed families.

Following their performances in Romeo & Juliet, the pair will head back to London to complete their final year at the most prestigious opera training programme at the Guildhall of Music in London which they have were accepted into, without audition.

Tickets to this spectacular production on 24 & 26 August are on sale now via iTicket.

Madison and Filipe have either won or placed in the top two or three of nearly every opera singing competition in New Zealand and Australia.

Patron and studio director Frances Wilson-Fitzgerald says it’s a rare opportunity for audiences to see two of New Zealand’s best emerging talents in one of the great operas.

Ironically, the singers have often competed against each other, with Filipe awarded the Dame Malvina Emerging Artists Internship by New Zealand Opera in 2015, and Madison in 2016. Filipe and Madison competed against each other in the Lexus Song Quest 2016, placing second and third respectively.

Frances says, “We chose to stage I Capuleti e i Montecchi because not only is it a great, great opera that is rarely performed these days, but as the Italian interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, it was an ideal match for Madison and Filipe who are both physically gorgeous, gifted singers with majestic voices - I Capuleti e i Montecchi is a lyrical bel canto opera, which means ‘beautiful singing’, after all.

“Not that it’s a soppy love story. I Capuleti e i Montecchi is a great feast of an opera. It’s full of everything; it’s quite angry really, because it tells the story of two mafia families at the time and how enraged they were by this relationship.”

The opera takes place over two acts and was composed by Vincenzo Bellini in 1830. Although the story of Romeo and Juliet was made famous by William Shakespeare, it has been a common story theme in Italian literature for centuries.

Frances says, “Bellini’s opera is not performed all that often these days because it is very long at more than three hours. But we have cut it to an hour-and-a-half. In the full length version, some songs can be repeated five or six times, but we’ve limited the repetition.

“Our total cast numbers just five, with a chorus to represent the armies offstage. The supporting actors are Damian Arnold, Wade Kernot and Joel Amosa, all of whom are rising young stars. This production will stretch the performers and take them to a new level of sophistication of technique.”

The chair of the Auckland Opera Studio charitable trust, Gillian Peebles, says that instead of a full orchestra, the studio will present a staged production of the famous opera, which will be accompanied by piano, flute, clarinet and a French Horn.

Gillian says, “The audience can expect to experience the full, exquisite beauty of this period as well as great drama that has everything; anger, bravery, love and desperation as two opposing mafia families fight it out over the consequences of what they deem an undesirable, proposed union.

“The great thing about opera is that it has everything, music, singing, acting, costumes and props and drama. Plenty of drama. We would encourage anybody who has never experienced opera to come along to this production, it’s the perfect introduction.”

What: Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi
When: 24 and 26 August
Where: The Mercury Theatre, Auckland
Starring: Madison Nonoa (as Juliet), Filipe Manu (as Romeo), Damian Arnold (as Tebaldo), Wade Kernot (as Lorenza), and Joel Amosa (as Capellio)

Tickets can be purchased here


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