Otello review - The Age

Xanthoudakis soars in Australian premiere of Rossini's rare Otello.

Otello review - Simon Parris

Balancing passion and vulnerability [Elena Xanthoudakis] gives a fascinating performance as Desdemona …Stephen Smith went on give a smouldering portrayal of a man near crazed with jealousy... Henry Choo is in excellent voice as the self-serving Iago... Possessing a pure and thrilling tenor voice, Boyd Owen sings Rodrigo with great flair

Otello review - Australian Book Review

It is a real treat to hear an opera of this era in the intimate and historic surroundings of the Athenaeum Theatre... Astute casting of the three main tenor roles – Otello, Rodrigo, and Iago, and the two mezzo soprano principals, Desdemona and Emilia – offered pleasing contrasts of vocal timbre and stage presence. 4 Stars.

Otello review - Classic Melbourne

[Elena Xanthoudakis] Desdemona is another outstanding performance and a reason in itself to rush off to buy a ticket... [Stephen Smith] possesses a rich, vibrant tenor voice, suitably more powerful and darker in colour than those around him... Boyd Owen was exceptionally impressive in respect of the range of his attractive, virile tenor voice.

Otello review - Stage Whispers

The undisputed star of the opera was Elena Xanthoudakis as Desdemona, her warm, luminous soprano voice navigating the demanding bel canto bravura passages with consummate ease. Ms Xanthoudakis perfectly portrayed Desdemona's wronged innocence and the strength of her love for Otello. Her tireless singing shone in the ensembles; and the "Willow Song" aria, with simple and beautiful harp accompaniment, was a particular highlight.

Tristan and Isolde review -Opera Chaser

 

An accomplished Tristan and Isolde makes its mark from an increasingly ambitious Melbourne Opera

 

The determination and ambitiousness that percolates within an increasingly confident Melbourne Opera came in the form of a musically secure, vocally accomplished and exciting production of Tristan and Isolde at the Palais Theatre Monday night. Apart from a minor technical hitch that saw temporary loss of surtitles and background projections, not even the disastrous cancellation of Friday night’s opening (due to an indisposed Isolde) impeded the quality of professionalism on display.

Tristan and Isolde review - Timeout

 

Melbourne Opera punches well above its weight with a Wagnerian epic

Tristan and Isolde review - Classic Melbourne

 

Tackling increasingly difficult Wagner operas with notable success, Melbourne Opera braved the so-called “Tristan Curse” and, although not unscathed, produced a memorable performance of opera’s most iconic love story. Just as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra had to replace an ailing Stuart Skelton for their concert performances of Tristan and Isolde in 2013, so illness plagued Melbourne Opera’s leading singers, resulting in the postponement of the opening night to the second scheduled performance to enable Lee Abrahmsen to recover from a chest infection.

Tristan and Isolde review - Stage Whispers

 

I attended what should have been the second performance of Tristan and Isolde after the first was cancelled due to a virus affecting the lead soprano and several other cast members. Fortunately Lee Abrahmsen seemed to have fully recovered.

Tristan and Isolde review - The Age

 

This was not the opening night Melbourne Opera had planned. But then, Wagner didn't have the premiere he planned for Tristan und Isolde either. After trying for six years to have it staged, when a date was finally set in 1865, opening night had to be postponed for nearly a month because the Isolde lost her voice. Melbourne Opera's leading lady too fell ill at the final hour on Friday but thankfully we only had to wait three days, not three weeks, to hear this revolutionary work.

Tristan and Isolde review - ConcertoNet

 

The immensity of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde cannot be underestimated. Its expansive emotional palette, the sweeping journey across sea and land, the astonishingly huge singing role of Isolde in particular and not least, the sheer length of the score all make for a heavy-duty opera which tests the inventiveness of the cast and creative team as well as the stamina of the audience. Melbourne Opera’s delayed first night – the indisposition of the soprano forcing a re-schedule – was well up to task and was enthusiastically received by a large audience.

Tristan and Isolde review - The Australian

 

Melbourne Opera’s intrepid bid to scale Wagnerian heights.

 

Jostling with the two professional opera companies serving Victoria, Melbourne Opera aspires to ­tackle the grandest, most difficult works in the operatic canon ­despite receiving no government funding, lacking a permanent professional chorus and orchestra, and, in its quest to employ local artists, competing with the lure of top-tier domestic and international companies.

Tristan and Isolde review - ABR

 

Tristan und Isolde, the opera in which Richard Wagner really took art in a new direction, is often described as the most important musical work of the nineteenth century. No lesser authority than Kobbé calls it the most influential opera in all musical history, while the great Wagner conductor Christian Thielemann says it is ‘the peak of operatic art, the opera of operas, the incunabulum, the key work. Tristan is the sum of everything and the exception to it’. Finished in 1859 and first performed in 1865, Tristan earns this encomium because of its intensity, its inwardness, the way it distorts the rules of harmony – especially the famous Tristan chord which opens the prelude and is not resolved for some four hours. The work’s full effect took decades to unfold, inspiring Nietzsche, Freud, Thomas Mann, Mahler, Schoenberg, Debussy, and many more.

Tristan and Isolde review - Simon Parris

 

The delayed opening night of Tristan and Isolde proved well worth the wait, an evening of musical splendour that will live in the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to be there.

Roberto Devereux review - ConcertoNet

 

Full stage productions of Roberto Devereux are rare and rarer still are full “cycles” of Donizetti’s three Tudor operas. That it falls to the small, unsubsidised company of Melbourne Opera to premier two of the three operas in Australia and consequently premier the complete trio is something of a minor miracle. Not only have Melbourne Opera lived up to their charter to provide a wider choice of repertoire for the opera-going public, but they have done so in style and with considerable success. Both Maria Stuarda and Ana Bolena were creditable productions which drew widespread praise and now Roberto Devereuxcompletes their trifecta with a highly successful production and some superb, on occasion, superlative singing.

Roberto Devereux review - The Plus Ones

 

Melbourne Opera astounds with Roberto Devereux

 

Melbourne Opera’s Roberto Devereux is very entertaining. Roberto Devereux is the last of Melbourne Opera‘s Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy, with acclaimed productions of Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) in 2015 and Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) in 2016.

Roberto Devereux review - The Australian

 

Melbourne Opera’s crowning achievement

 

With Roberto Devereux, Melbourne Opera completes its Australian premiere of Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy.

 

None of these three tragedies is in the same popular league as his Lucia di Lammermoor or Don Pasquale. But Roberto Devereux emerged from Donizetti at the pinnacle of his acclaim, authority and audacity: the overture opens to the tune of God Save the Queen.

Roberto Devereux review - Theatre People

 

Settling into the ornately decorated Athenaeum Theatre, the audience is shocked to attention with a booming, jolted chord from the orchestra pit. Greg Hocking, conductor and producer of Roberto Devereux, initiates us into an evening of whimsical, musical mastery with a tongue in cheek rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’ that transports the pomp and stuff of early 17th Century England into a balmy 21st Century Melbourne evening. The playful composition of this god-and-crown fearing number signals that what is to come is sure to be a rollicking delight.

Roberto Devereux review - ArtsReview

 

Melbourne Opera’s production of Roberto Devereux is a masterpiece. Their superb storytelling is made all the more exceptional through the deformation and violation of what you might consider traditional operatic singing.

Roberto Devereux review - Limelight Magazine

 

Opening night belonged to Australian soprano Helena Dix in the role of Queen Elizabeth I.

 

With Roberto Devereux, Melbourne Opera completes the Donizetti Tudor trilogy including Anna Bolena (2015) and Maria Stuarda(2016); the first time this achievement has been accomplished in the country. Roberto Devereux is a mature work, written just after Lucia di Lammermoor though not Donizetti’s most accomplished opera. The libretto by Cammarano is thin in both substance and subtlety and the music is not the composer’s finest, yet we were all grateful to hear this rarely performed work for its opening run by Melbourne Opera.

Roberto Devereux review - Classic Melbourne

 

Melbourne Opera manages to produce high quality operatic productions throughout the year without government funding. This is what makes their current production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereuxall the more astounding. It is a rarely performed work and the final in a trilogy of Donizetti’s Tudor-era operas presented by the company. The titular character of Roberto is played with gravity and courage by coloratura lyric tenor Henry Choo. His is a voice of rare beauty, with the capacity for sweetness as well as high drama. His interpretation of Roberto’s Act 3 aria “Come uno spirto angelico” alone was worth the ticket price. In fact this production is a feast for lovers of the “bel canto” style of opera. Set at the court of Elizabeth 1 in 1601, the story is loosely based on the ageing queen’s relationship with court favourite and former lover, Robert Devereux. When Donizetti’s opera was premiered in 1837, with Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, the prevailing performance style was melodrama, and this production has it in spades.

Roberto Devereux review - Opera Chaser

 

Melbourne Opera manages to produce high quality operatic productions throughout the year without government funding. This is what makes their current production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereuxall the more astounding. It is a rarely performed work and the final in a trilogy of Donizetti’s Tudor-era operas presented by the company. The titular character of Roberto is played with gravity and courage by coloratura lyric tenor Henry Choo. His is a voice of rare beauty, with the capacity for sweetness as well as high drama. His interpretation of Roberto’s Act 3 aria “Come uno spirto angelico” alone was worth the ticket price. In fact this production is a feast for lovers of the “bel canto” style of opera. Set at the court of Elizabeth 1 in 1601, the story is loosely based on the ageing queen’s relationship with court favourite and former lover, Robert Devereux. When Donizetti’s opera was premiered in 1837, with Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, the prevailing performance style was melodrama, and this production has it in spades.

Roberto Devereux review - ABR

 

Melbourne Opera’s latest production is Gaetano Donizetti’s 1837 lyric tragedy Roberto Devereux, the last in his so-called Tudor trilogy. The company staged Mary Stuart in 2015and Anna Bolena in 2016, to considerable acclaim. However, this airing of Roberto Devereux, an Australian première, is something else. Put simply, it was one of the most thrilling nights at the opera I have ever experienced – an opinion shared by many in the enthusiastic audience. If you haven’t heard of Melbourne-born soprano Helena Dix (Queen Elizabeth I) yet – you will. This is the most exciting voice I have heard since Joan Sutherland.

Roberto Devereux review - Stage Whispers

 

Melbourne Opera’s latest production is Gaetano Donizetti’s 1837 lyric tragedy Roberto Devereux, the last in his so-called Tudor trilogy. The company staged Mary Stuart in 2015and Anna Bolena in 2016, to considerable acclaim. However, this airing of Roberto Devereux, an Australian première, is something else. Put simply, it was one of the most thrilling nights at the opera I have ever experienced – an opinion shared by many in the enthusiastic audience. If you haven’t heard of Melbourne-born soprano Helena Dix (Queen Elizabeth I) yet – you will. This is the most exciting voice I have heard since Joan Sutherland.

Roberto Devereux review - The Age

 

It is seldom that a semi-professional opera company – even Melbourne Opera, which so consistently overachieves – can host a performance that would grace the stage at Covent Garden or the Met. It did so at the Athenaeum on Saturday where Helena Dix was utterly superb as Queen Elizabeth I in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux.

Roberto Devereux review - Simon Parris

 

In yet another triumph, Melbourne Opera not only presents a superb evening of bel canto opera, but also corrects a long-standing arts omission by staging the Australian premiere of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux.

Lohengrin review - Theatre People

 

Our state’s opera scene has never looked stronger or healthier.

 

For many years, veteran companies like Lyric Opera, Opera Australia, and Victorian Opera have entertained, enthralled and treated audiences, satisfying every taste with wide-ranging repertoires featuring both traditional and contemporary fare.

Lohengrin review - Herald Sun

 

Our state’s opera scene has never looked stronger or healthier.

 

For many years, veteran companies like Lyric Opera, Opera Australia, and Victorian Opera have entertained, enthralled and treated audiences, satisfying every taste with wide-ranging repertoires featuring both traditional and contemporary fare.

Lohengrin review - Limelight

 

Wagner’s swan makes a splash in Melbourne.

 

Wagner’s music-drama about a knight, a swan and a damsel in distress has captivated Melbourne audiences for almost exactly 140 years. Lohengrin, in fact, was the first Wagner opera to be performed in Australia. We are told that audiences and critics hailed the opening night on 18 August 1877 at the Prince of Wales Opera House in Bourke Street as a pivotal moment in the city’s ongoing musical development. Wagner himself was informed of the performances by a German expatriate, Emil Sander. The composer responded promptly and enthusiastically to Sander’s news, encouraging his works to be sung in English, so that the audience would understand the text “intimately”.

Lohengrin review - The Plus Ones

 

Melbourne Opera’s ‘Lohengrin’: a visual feast

 

Melbourne Opera delights audiences once again with its second Wagnerian opera, Lohengrin, a visual feast that’s well-cast and beautifully sung.

Lohengrin review - Classic Melbourne

 

Melbourne Opera’s ‘Lohengrin’: a visual feast

 

Melbourne Opera delights audiences once again with its second Wagnerian opera, Lohengrin, a visual feast that’s well-cast and beautifully sung.

Lohengrin review - Stage Whispers

 

After a successful Tannhäuser in 2016, Melbourne Opera lifted the bar further with Wagner’s Lohengrin. We knew we were in for a special evening with an ethereal start to the overture, the sixty piece orchestra under the firm baton of David Kram. Having the brass in the boxes at the side of the auditorium added to the excitement.

Lohengrin review - The Australian

 

Melbourne Opera’s Lohengrin: ideal approach to Wagner

 

Melbourne Opera’s ambition is showing no signs of abating. The company is preparing for a third China tour, delivering cycles of demanding Donizetti and Wagner operas, and sliding from cosy Athenaeum Theatre headquar­ters into grand venues typically reserved for commercial musicals. The latest enterprise is a staging of Wagner’s Lohengrin under the neoclassical dome of the Regent Theatre, just 12 months after it brought Tann­hauser to this stage and six months before a new Tristan and Isolde at the Palais Theatre.

Lohengrin review - Simon Parrish

 

Grand in scale yet intimate in detail, Melbourne Opera’s lavish, confident and lovingly polished production of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin is an immensely satisfying experience.

Lohengrin review - The Age

 

Melbourne Opera successfully tackles early Wagner

 

The great Italian composer Rossini was not a fan of Lohengrin: "One can't judge it after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend hearing it a second time," he said.