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NZ Opera’s Sparkling Production Of Rossini’s Comic Masterpiece Le Comte Ory (The Count Ory) To Tour Aotearoa This Winter

An effervescent spectacle of astonishing bel canto singing, exhilarating music, and a healthy dose of satire is set to delight audiences in a new production from NZ Opera.

Originally a comedy set in medieval France, this brand new production of Le comte Ory, led by internationally acclaimed director Simon Phillips (North by Northwest, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Elixir of Love), has been given a present-day facelift. Set in Aotearoa New Zealand, there will be plenty of local humour and references in this contemporary staging.

Phillips says “I have always believed that if you want people to laugh, the closer you bring something to a contemporary era, the more chance you’ll have. We can recognise ourselves, and elements of our society in what we’re watching - and it gives the satire more zing. This production felt like a brilliant opportunity to make a new version of this bonkers, madcap rom-com of an opera – unapologetic, irreverent and funny, just as Rossini intended it to be.”

Le comte Ory follows the adventures of the charismatic and cheeky Count Ory, a perennial chancer and quite possibly the ‘World’s Worst Womaniser’. Seeing an opportunity to woo the lovely Countess Adèle while her brother and mates are out of town, Ory hides his true identity with a series of increasingly outrageous disguises and pursues a convoluted set of plots in an attempt to win her affection. What ensues is a whirlwind of hilarious misunderstandings and romantic entanglements, leading to a riotous finale, where Ory's true identity is revealed, and true love prevails amidst the chaos.

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One of the 19th century’s greatest and most influential composers, Gioachino Rossini (The Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola, The Italian Girl in Algiers) is still widely regarded as opera’s best comic writer. His catchy and technically demanding melodies and witty, engaging plots showcase the vocal talent and comedic skill of remarkable singers, and Le comte Ory is no exception.

Despite Rossini’s profile, the provocative themes and anticlerical humour of Le comte Ory saw its visibility decline through the 20th century. Over the past two decades, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in this masterpiece, as audiences rediscover and embrace its vibrant humour, unabashed celebration of pleasure and spectacular bel canto singing – this new production seeks to share that celebration with opera lovers across Aotearoa.

Leading the outstanding local and international cast, award-winning New Zealand-Tongan lyric tenor Manase Latu (Hamlet, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo) makes his role debut as the scheming Count Ory, and his appearance is supported by The Ryman Healthcare Dame Malvina Major Foundation Mina Foley Award. One of Australisia’s most in-demand sopranos Emma Pearson (Così fan tutte, Semele, Lucia di Lammermoor) will dazzle as Countess Adèle, complete with coloratura vocal fireworks, joined by mezzo-soprano favourite Hanna Hipp (Così fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, A Handmaid’s Tale) from the UK, in the quick-witted role of Isoler the page.

Making a welcome return to New Zealand operatic stages for the first time in thirteen years, Baritone Moses Mackay (L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Cavalleria rusticana), one third of New Zealand’s highest selling classical trio Sol3 Mio, entertains as Count Ory’s pal-of-questionable-character Raimbaud. Recent winner of the prestigious 2023 Dame Malvina Major Award, Mackay has been enjoying a successful international career and has not performed with NZ Opera since he was an Emerging Artist with the company in 2012.

The talented cast also includes experienced New Zealand bass-baritone Wade Kernot (Macbeth, La Traviata, The Magic Flute), recently returned-home soprano Andrea Creighton (Mansfield Park, Der Rosenkavalier, Phantom of the Opera) and rising-star Tayla Alexander (Phantom of the Opera, Der Häusliche Krieg, Die Zauberflöte), performing with the New Zealand Opera Chorus in each centre.

Playing some of Rossini’s most exhilarating music, the full forces of Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra Wellington, and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will perform in each city, under the baton of esteemed conductor and NZ Opera General Director, Brad Cohen. Cohen’s knowledge of bel canto is extensive, with a 2007 NAXOS recording of Le comte Ory in his discography.

New Zealand’s leading scenographer Tracy Grant Lord ((m)Orpheus, Così fan tutte, The Unruly Tourists) joins Phillips in breathing vivid life into the new production, adding her inventive design and flair to the production’s contemporary set and costumes.

Award-winning Lighting Designer Matthew Marshall (Così fan tutte, The Unruly Tourists, Macbeth), known for his spectacular, innovative lighting on both sides of the Tasman, rounds out the experienced Antipodean creative team.

The public are also invited to gain an exclusive insight into the creative journey of Le comte Ory at an upcoming NZ Opera Open Day on Saturday 11 May 11th, 10am - 1pm in Parnell. This behind-the-scenes event will focus on the development of the production, offering a rare glimpse into the intricate processes involved in creating and staging a large-scale opera. Attendees will have the opportunity to observe set design, costumes, and the skill of NZ Opera’s hair and makeup teams, as well as watching director Simon Phillips and conductor Brad Cohen lead an open rehearsal session with the chorus and cast of Le comte Ory. The Open Day is free, family friendly and all are welcome - nau mai haere mai.

Hilarious, lively, and a little bit naughty, NZ Opera’s fresh take on Le comte Ory is an unmissable interpretation of one of Rossini’s funniest and most beautifully sung comedies.

Tickets are on sale now for strictly limited seasons in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

NZ Opera presents

LE COMTE ORY by Rossini

Sung in French with English surtitles

Contains mature themes, recommended 16+


30 May & 1 June, 2024

Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre

Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland

With Auckland Philharmonia


13 & 15 June, 2024

St. James Theatre

Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington

With Orchestra Wellington


27 & 29 June, 2024

Isaac Theatre Royal

Ōtautahi, Christchurch

With Christchurch Symphony Orchestra

Tickets and info: ph 0800 696 737

NZ Opera Open Day

Saturday 11 May, 10am - 1pm

NZ Opera Studio

5/69 St Georges Bay Rd

Parnell, Auckland


Count Ory: Manase Latu

Countess Adele: Emma Pearson

Isolier: Hanna Hipp

Raimbaud: Moses Mackay

Tutor: Wade Kernot

Ragonde: Andrea Creighton

Alice: Tayla Alexander

Coriphée: Nathan Hauraki (AKL), Theo Moolenaar (WEL), David Moseley (CHC)

with The New Zealand Opera Chorus


Music: Gioachino Rossini

Libretto: Eugène Scribe

Conductor: Brad Cohen

Director: Simon Phillips

Production Designer: Tracy Grant Lord

Lighting Designer: Matthew Marshall

Assistant Director: Matthew Kereama

Assistant Conductor: Luke Venter

Surtitle Translation: Simon Phillips

About Simon Phillips

Simon Phillips is an international theatre director and former artistic director of the Melbourne Theatre Company and the State Theatre Company of South Australia. His directing credits range from works by the great contemporary writers and leading Australian playwrights, to Shakespearean classics, musicals and opera.

His productions have toured Australia, Asia, Europe, the West End and Broadway. Simon is the recipient of multiple awards for theatre direction and in 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Melbourne. The University of Auckland honoured Simon as Distinguished Alumni in 2024.

About Brad Cohen

Brad grew up in Sydney before studying at Oxford University, the Royal College of Music, and the Royal Northern College of Music. In the decades since, he has led orchestras including the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Het Gelders Orkest, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Brad has conducted a wide-ranging repertoire at opera companies including English National Opera, New York City Opera, and Opera Australia. Brad was appointed General Director of NZ Opera in 2023.

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