Victorian Opera (Melbourne)

Victorian Opera (Melbourne)

Victorian Opera is an opera company based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The company was founded in 2005 and commenced operations in January 2006 with funding from the Victorian government, and Richard Gill as Artistic Director. The long-awaited replacement for the late-lamented and much-missed VSO quickly acquired an enthusiastic (and generous) support base through their Patrons programme, whose members assist the Company on a financial basis annually, as do a growing number of corporate partners.

2006 (Inaugural) Season

Victorian Opera's first production was Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde", performed by the Victorian Youth Opera from June 30 to July 2, 2006. It was a collaboration with the Victorian College of the Arts' School of Production, whose students designed and crewed the show. This was followed by an Opera Gala Concert on July 15, 2006, at Melbourne's Hamer Hall, in which most members of the new company performed, accompanied by Orchestra Victoria under the baton of Richard Gill.

The company's inaugural main stage production was Mozart's "Così fan tutte", directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon and presented at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne between August 19 and 26, 2006. The principals were Gary Rowley (Don Alfonso), Christopher Saunders (Ferrando), Christopher Tonkin (Guglielmo), Antoinette Halloran (Fiordiligi), Jacqueline Dark (Dorabella) and Tiffany Speight (Despina).

Bach's "The Passion According to St. John", on September 8, at St. Michael's Uniting Church, Collins Street, Melbourne, and a concert version of Brian Howard's "Metamorphosis", performed on November 3, at Melba Hall, Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne completed the Victorian Opera's first season, which was not only well-received, but also produced an encouraging financial surplus.

2007 Season

After several temporary locations, the historic Horti Hall in Victoria Street, Melbourne, became the company's permanent headquarters in 2007.

The company's second season commenced on February 17, 2007, with a concert presentation at Hamer Hall of the Stravinsky double-bill "Les noces" and "Oedipus Rex", with Richard Gill conducting Orchestra Victoria, and a cast which included most of the coming season's principals and the Victorian Opera Chorus.

Between June 1–3, the Victorian Youth Opera, again in collaboration with the Victorian College of the Arts School of Production, presented an interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's immortal story The Snow Queen, by Grahame Dudley and Nick Enright.

A new production of "The Love of the Nightingale" by Richard Mills and Timberlake Wertenbaker, directed by Lindy Hume, was premiered at Her Majesty's Theatre on July 27 & 29. Based on the 3000-year-old legend of Philomele and Procne, the explosive drama featured Leanne Kenneally (Philomele), Elizabeth Campbell (Niobe), James Egglestone (Captain/Hippolytus), Adrian McEniery (First Soldier/Pandion), Samuel Dundas (Second Soldier), Sarah Crane (Hero), Sarah Cole (Iris) and Roxanne Hislop (Juno). Once again Richard Gill conducted Orchestra Victoria.

Gluck's enduring and greatest opera "Orphée et Eurydice" was performed at Her Majesty's Theatre between August 6–13, in the Berlioz version, directed by Stephen Page, with mezzo-soprano Dimity Shepherd as Orphée, Alison Rae Jones (Eurydice) and Jacqueline Porter (L'Amour). The Victorian Opera Chorus and Orchestra Victoria were conducted by Matthew Coorey.

The previous season's acclaimed production of "Così fan tutte" toured metropolitan and regional Victoria during October and November. Sung in English, with a chamber ensemble drawn from Orchestra Victoria, and conducted by Nicholas Carter, only Gary Rowley (Don Alfonso) and Jacqueline Dark (Dorabella) remained from the original cast, with James Egglestone as Ferrando, Samuel Dundas (Guglielmo), Mylinda Joyce (Fiordiligi) and Jacqueline Porter (Despina).

Although more modest than the previous year, the company once again finished with a financial surplus.

2008 Season

The opening performance of the year was a Gala Concert on February 16 at Hamer Hall. Entitled "Puccini ~ The Sacred and Profane", it consisted of the "Messa di Gloria", several well-known arias from Puccini operas, and the complete Act II of "La bohème".

The season's new contemporary production was the chamber opera "Through the Looking Glass" by Alan John and Andrew Upton, directed by Michael Kantor, and performed at the Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse, South Melbourne, May 17–31. The small cast of David Hobson, Dimity Shepherd, Suzanne Johnston, Margaret Haggard, Gary Rowley and Kanen Breen, sang multiple roles, and a small onstage enemble was conducted by Richard Gill.

Monteverdi's baroque work "The Coronation of Poppea" [cite web
url =
title = Everyday evils live on in timeless classic
publisher = The Age
date = Date|2008-07-17
accessdate = 2008-07-17
] , directed by Kate Cherry, was presented at the Australian National Academy of Music, South Melbourne Town Hall, July 18–26. The orchestra, arranged in 17th Century fashion on either side of the performance space were led by Richard Gill, conducting from one of the two harpsichords. Artists performing in one of the earliest of all operas (1643) were: Tiffany Speight (Poppea), countertenors David Hansen (Nerone) and Daniel Goodwin (Ottone), Sally Wilson (Ottavia/La Fortuna), Jacqueline Porter (Drusilla/La Virtù), Paul Hughes (Seneca), Isabel Veale (Arnalta/Nutrice), Adrian McEniery (Luciano/Primo Soldato), Jessica Aszodi (Damigella), Edmond Choo (Liberto), Laurence Meikle (Mercurio/Littore) and Jacob Caine (Secundo Soldato). [cite web
url =,25197,24055858-5013577,00.
title = Wives of unquiet desperation
publisher = The Australian
date = Date|2008-07-21
accessdate = 2008-07-22
] [cite web
url =
title = The coronation of Poppea
publisher = The Age
date = Date|2008-07-21
accessdate = 2008-07-22

Between August 11–21, the Donizetti opera "The Elixir of Love" was presented at the Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse, South Melbourne. Directed by Stephen Medcalf, with Orchestra Victoria conducted by Warwick Stengards, with alternating casts of David Hobson/Roy Best (Nemorino), Antoinette Halloran/Elena Xanthoudakis (Adina), Christopher Tonkin/Samuel Dundas (Sergeant Belcore), Roger Lemke/Roger Howell (Dulcamara) and Danielle Calder (Gianetta).

Rounding off the 2008 season will be five performances by the Victorian Youth Opera, when they present Malcolm Williamson's "The Happy Prince", based on the story by Oscar Wilde, between October 3–5 at the Victorian College of the Arts.

2009 Season

The Victorian Opera's 2009 season will commence on February 21, with a Gala Concert at Hamer Hall. The programme will comprise "Bluebeard's Castle" by Béla Bartók, with Grant Smith (Narrator), Andrew Collis (Bluebeard) and Lecia Robertson (Judith); and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" with soloists Joanna Cole (soprano), Tobias Cole (counter-tenor) and Gary Rowley (baritone). The Victorian Opera Chorus and Orchestra Victoria will be conducted by Richard Gill.

Mozart's "Don Giovanni" will be presented at The National Theatre, St.Kilda, March 3,5,7,10,12 and 14, with Richard Gill conducting the first three performances and Nicholas Carter the remaining three. The production will be directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon, with baritones Samuel Dundas (Don Giovanni) and Andrew Collis (Leporello); bass baritone Anthony Mackey (Masetto); and bass Steven Gallop (The Commendatore). The opera's lighter-voiced roles will be sung by tenor James Egglestone (Don Ottavio) and sopranos Caroline Wenbourne (Donna Anna), Tiffany Speight (Donna Elvira) and Michelle Buscemi (Zerlina). A tour of regional Victoria will follow the Melbourne season.

The new Australian work of the 2009 season will be the Andrew Ford/Sue Smith chamber opera "Rembrandt's Wife", to be performed at the Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse April 18–24. Directed by Talya Masel and conducted by Richard Gill, the cast will be Paul Biencourt (The Pretender); Roxanne Hislop (Geertje Dircx); Jacqueline Porter (Saskia/Hendrickje Stoffels) and Gary Rowley (Rembrandt van Rijn).

The Company's first performances at The Arts Centre will be between July 21–27, when Richard Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos", directed by James McCaughey, is presented at The Playhouse. Richard Gill will conduct Orchestra Victoria, with artists Elizabeth Stannard (Prima Donna/Ariadne); Jacqueline Dark (Composer); Irini Utley (Zerbinetta); Gary Rowley (Music Master); Adrian McEniery (Dancing Master); Samuel Dundas (Harlequin); John Mac Master (Tenor/Bacchus); Paul Hughes (Wig-maker); Roxanne Hislop (Dryad); Jessica Aszodi (Echo); Melanie Adams (Naiad); Paul Biencourt (Brighella); Jacob Caine (Scaramuccio/Officer); and Andrew Mackey (Truffaldino/Lackey).

The much anticipated Melbourne Recital Centre opens in February 2009, and the Company will perform Handel's "Xerxes" in its principal space Elisabeth Murdoch Hall on August 13,15,18 and 20. In a co-production with NBR New Zealand Opera directed by Roger Hodgman, early music expert John O'Donnell will conduct a specialised baroque orchestra and a cast including counter-tenor Tobias Cole who, as Xerxes, sings the famous aria 'Ombra mai fu'; mezzos Roxanne Hislop (Amastre) and Dimity Shepherd (Arsamene); sopranos Tiffany Speight (Romilda) and Jessica Aszodi (Atalanta); baritone Gary Rowley (Elviro) and bass Steven Gallop (Ariodate).

The final production of the 2009 season will be Benjamin Britten's opera "The Little Sweep", presented by the Victorian Youth Opera in five performances between October 2–4, at Space 28, Victorian College of the Arts.


External links

* [ Victorian Opera, official website]
* [ The Arts Centre, Melbourne official website]
* [ John Slavin, "The Age", Melbourne, Date|2005-12-21 regarding plans for the revived Victorian Opera]

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