Opera for an Oz summer

New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in South Pacific. Photo / Supplied
New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in South Pacific. Photo / Supplied

A summer of Mozart, the Broadway musical South Pacific and a 3D production directed by Bruce Beresford are among the highlights of Opera Australia's 2012 season.

Fourteen major operas, including La Traviata set on Sydney harbour, will spread between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next year as Opera Australia continues to broaden its audience.

All three eastern cities will be part of an opening Mozart festival to kick start the new year.

Sydney's summer season will feature Julie Taymor's new take on The Magic Flute, Jim Sharman's re-studied Cosi fan tutte and the long-awaited new production of The Marriage Of Figaro directed by Benedict Andrews. The Magic Flute will also have seasons in Brisbane and Melbourne.

In his first year as Opera Australia's artistic director, Lyndon Terracini said it was important to start 2012 with a bang. "I want to have the summer festival as a composer-driven attraction - 2012 will be Mozart, the year after Verdi then maybe Rossini," Terracini said at the season launch at Sydney Opera House.

"It's so that people have an opera festival at the beginning of the year rather than feeling like it's the winter season repeated, to give it a different energy."

The national summer season will include Puccini's Turandot in Sydney, Rossini's The Barber Of Seville and Lehar's The Merry Widow in Melbourne and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Sydney's winter season will be framed by two key works of the 20th century, Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt and Richard Strauss' Salome, both starring Cheryl Barker.

Die tote Stadt will receive its Australian premiere when Bruce Beresford directs a futuristic interpretation featuring 3D holograms, cinema-style surround sound and pixilated LED screens. The story of a man who falls in love with the spitting image of his dead wife, Beresford is working on ways of bringing two versions of Barker to life on stage. "There will be those sort of film sequences that Bruce used really well in Of Mice And Men," said Terracini. "Cheryl will be performing live but it will be partly film and partly live and ideally you won't be able to tell the difference."

New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in the award-winning Lincoln Centre Theatre production of South Pacific. The Bartlett Sher-directed show will run for four weeks at the Sydney Opera House from August before embarking on a national tour with dates to be confirmed. "I was in tears watching it on Broadway and the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate describe it as the best South Pacific of all time," said Terracini.

That said, none of the productions are likely to eclipse the spectacular promised for Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: La Traviata. From next March, the opera will be performed on a purpose-built stage on the water complete with a 9m chandelier and the city skyline as a backdrop. See opera-australia.org.au.

- AAP

- NZ Herald

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