Right. Here we go again. That time of the year when we find out what the Opera Company have for us for next year, when we start thinking about what we want to go and see.
Now, before I start, I have to say, when you are unsure of the health of the economy and what is going to happen, playing it safe is always a good thing to do. And I applaud any artistic company that does that while still working to keep standards high.
(Yes, I know you can hear the buts already!!!)
Here is the list, in the order in the brochure: The Magic Flute; Turandot; Marriage of Figaro; Cosi Fan Tutte; Die Tote Stadt; The Pearlfishers; Aida; South Pacific; Madama butterfly; Lucia di Lammermoor; Salome; La Traviata (the open air, on the water spectacular)
Already I hear the grumbling, right? Yes, I hear it in my head too.. 3 Mozarts? All the big names, not even a lesser known, like Idomeneo, or Abduction. And yes, it does look like Carmen and Boheme belong there too, doesn't it?
But, as I said before, they went for safety in uncertain times. Almost all of those productions are safe crowd pullers in Australia. Personally, I think we can do without Pearlfishers, although, I guess, putting a different French opera in that will pull the crowds that is not Carmen (done this year) is a bit of a challenge, although why not some Offenbach?
But having griped, there are two things I was not expecting to see done here in a hurry (Die Tote Stadt & Salome) that I would love to go and see (and probably will), along with a selection I want to see. Some I want to see for the casting, some because I just love them.
And yes, there is that crazy Traviata on the water. Why, if you are doing an outdoor production, can you not pick a big opera, that deserves a big production, rather than an intimate story about a lovers quarrel? Why not make Aida, or Turandot, (for 2 from next season) or say, William Tell if you want to make an impact? But no, we got La Trav, which is about as unspectacular as you can get while still using a chorus and a decent number of soloists.
I should also not gripe about the casting. Yes, it is a bit Cheryl heavy, and while I like her, I do not think she is vocally big enough for Salome. Hell, I had reservations about her in Capriccio, and she is cast as Salome? On the other hand, I would go see Lucia (which I would rather not) just to hear Emma Matthews continue to stake her claim as the best soprano of the current generation from Australia. Yes, she is that good. Oh, and who would not want to see the lavish Turandot we know and love?
So, all up? For me, it is a season that is appropriate for next year. Yes, I find some of it strange, but at the same time, it is a safe season, which, with the new AD at the head of the company, and my knowledge of him, is a very welcome surprise.