Australian World Orchestra: Dean, Beethoven & Schumann
Ongoing travel complications due to COVID meant that the Australian World Orchestra wasn’t able to fly in a number of international musicians this year. But fear not, the AWO will still gather some of Australia’s finest musicians to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Chief Conductor Alexander Briger AO will lead concerts in Canberra and Sydney, which will include the world premiere of a specially commissioned symphony by Australian clarinettist and composer Paul Dean. The new composition, simply entitled Symphony, will be performed alongside Schumann’s Symphony No 2.The AWO also pays belated 250th birthday respects to Beethoven with his dramatic Coriolan Overture.
2 June, Llewellyn Hall, Canberra; 3 June, City Recital Hall, Sydney; 4 June, Melbourne Recital Centre; australianworldorchestra.com.au
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Bach and Beamish
Accordion virtuoso James Crabb joins the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, led by Concertmaster Sophie Rowell, for this pairing of Johann Sebastian Bach and Sally Beamish. The English composer’s Seavaigers and Brandenburg “Slow movement” appear alongside Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite and Third Brandenburg Concerto.
3–5 June, Melbourne Recital Centre, melbournerecital.com.au
Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven & Brahms
Harry Sdraulig’s Torrent is the latest commission to be unveiled as part of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 50 Fanfares project. Nicholas Carter will conduct the world premiere alongside Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (featuring pianist Piers Lane, violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Umberto Clerici), Schreker’s Intermezzo and Brahms’ Third Symphony.
16–19 June, Sydney Town Hall, sydneysymphony.com
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra: She Speaks
South Australian composer Anne Cawrse is curating the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s She Speaks festival, which celebrates women composers in a series of concerts and a symposium. The program includes music by composers from Kaija Saariaho to Elena Kats-Chernin, with the evening concert featuring the world premiere of Cawrse’s Suite from Innocence.
19 June, Elder Hall, Madley Studio, University of Adelaide, aso.com.au
West Australian Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony
Composer, conductor and festival director Iain Grandage narrates Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in this West Australian Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Asher Fisch, bookended by Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge and Beethoven’s beloved ‘Pastoral’ Symphony.
18–19 June, Perth Concert Hall, waso.com.au
Omega Ensemble: Ex Machina
A new work by Nico Muhly, which will be funded by supporters purchasing between one and five bars each, is at the centre of this performance by the Omega Ensemble. The new work will have its world premiere alongside music by Bryce Dessner (including the Australian premiere of El Chan), Missy Mazzoli and Aaron Copland.
24–27 June, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, omegaensemble.com.au
Queensland Symphony Orchestra: Epic Sounds
Didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton is no stranger to the concert hall as a performer, but this concert will see him unveil his first large-scale orchestral work in a new commission for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Benjamin Northey conducts a concert that includes the overture to Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony.
26 June, QPAC, qso.com.au
Opera and Vocal
State Opera South Australia: Love Burns
State Opera is certainly becoming more adventurous under Artistic Director Stuart Maunder. This new staging of Graeme Koehne’s third opera, written to a quirky libretto by Louis Nowra, premiered in Adelaide in 1992 and receives a welcome revival at a hip converted industrial space. The opera is based on the true story of a couple of 1950s American cons dubbed “The Honeymoon Killers” by the media of the day. Jack, a gigolo, is married to the dowdy Angela. He seduces lonely widows for their money – she persuades him to kill them. Anthony Hunt conducts Nicholas Cannon’s production with Jessica Dean and Mark Oates as the murderous twosome.
3–6 June, Plant 4 Bowden, Adelaide, stateopera.com.au
Victorian Opera: Parrwang Lifts The Sky
Deborah Cheetham’s new family opera is based on a traditional story from Wadawurrung Country telling how magpies created the first dawn. Long ago, the sky sat like a blanket on the land. When youngsters Tjatjarrang (Big Sister) and Koki (Brother) climb an ancient gum tree, they discover a new world and a trusty friend in Parrwang, the magpie, who decides to lend them a hand lifting the darkness. Richard Mills conducts the production, which is directed by Elizabeth Hill-Cooper, assisted by Cheetham, who is also a member of the cast.
12 June, Arts Centre Melbourne, victorianopera.com.au
Opera Australia: Carmen
Coronavirus may have put paid to Opera Australia’s 2020 regional offering, but opera lovers will be able to take advantage of this year’s twice-the-distance ‘mega-tour’ celebrating the 25th anniversary of the company’s national touring program. From May to August, Matthew Barclay’s new production of Carmen will be staged by a travelling troupe of 32, including cast, crew, and a chamber orchestra, that will stop at more than 40 cities and towns and play to around 30,000 people. The show will journey from Hobart and Warrnambool in the south to Darwin and Katherine in the north, the Gold Coast in the east and Margaret River in the west.
May–August, various venues, opera.org.au
West Australian Symphony Orchestra: Brahms’ German Requiem
Johannes Brahms wrote Ein Deutsches Requiem between 1865 and 1868, soon after the passing of his beloved mother, but with the world still dominated by COVID-19 it feels especially relevant today. The composer assembled the libretto himself, pulling his text from the Lutheran Bible, though famously focusing on consolation for the living rather than the terrors awaiting the dead in the manner of the traditional Latin Requiem mass. Under Asher Fisch, WASO has proved an impressive conduit for the music of Brahms. Here, he conducts over 150 musicians and chorus with soloists James Clayton and Elena Perroni.
25–26 June, Perth Concert Hall, waso.com.au
Opera Australia: Attila
Verdi’s Attila is the operatic equivalent of a Revenger’s Tragedy, all bubbling emotions and dastardly plots. The most tuneful and direct of the composer’s early operas, the story follows the frequently duplicitous attempts of his enemies to bring the marauding title character to account. Andrea Battistoni conducts Davide Livermore’s handsome production, which updates the action appropriately enough to a noirish 1940s Italy with video projections and a couple of horses added to ginger things up. Alexander Vinogradov sings the Lord of the Huns with Natalie Aroyan as the vengeful Odabella, Diego Torre as her lover Foresto and Marco Vratogna as the patriotic Ezio.
29 June–10 July, Sydney Opera House, opera.org.au
Sydney Opera House: American Psycho: The Musical
When Alexander Berlage’s production of American Psycho: The Musical opened at the Hayes Theatre Co in 2019, it quickly sold out and won nine Sydney Theatre Awards. The Sydney Opera House is now presenting the razor-sharp musical, based on Bret Easton Ellis’s notorious 1991 novel. The pitch black comedy explores power, privilege, greed and psychopathy. Ben Gerrard reprises the role of Patrick Bateman, who does financial deals on Wall Street by day, and murders people by night, in Berlage’s stunningly staged production.
3–27 June, Playhouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House, sydneyoperahouse.com
State Theatre Company South Australia: The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race
Appleton is the quintessential small Australian country town. Some inhabitants are happy to embrace change, others aren’t fans of the tree-changers and their city ways. When Penny returns to her childhood home to become the new local doctor, she arrives just in time for the Appleton Show and its famous potato race, and is shocked to discover that the man’s prize is $1,000 and the woman’s prize is . . . $200? Not if Penny has anything to do with it. Inspired by true events, Melanie Tait’s affectionate, 90-minute comedy is effervescently entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, with serious things to say. Elena Carapetis directs.
4–19 June, Royalty Theatre, Adelaide, statetheatrecompany.com.au
Melbourne Theatre Company: The Truth
Michel and his wife Laurence are happily married, while Michel’s best friend Paul is happily married to Alice. But Michel and Alice are having an affair, and Laurence seems aware that something’s going on. How far will Michel go to hide the truth? Why is Alice so keen to reveal it? And how much does Laurence actually know? The Truth is written by accomplished young French playwright Florian Zeller, who wrote The Father. Sarah Giles directs the play for Melbourne Theatre Company with a cast including Stephen Curry and Bert LaBonté.
5 June – 10 July, Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, mtc.com.au
Sydney Theatre Company: Grand Horizons
After 50 years of married bliss, Nancy, a retired librarian approaching 80, tells her husband Bill that she wants a divorce so she can take a last chance at living her best life. Bill doesn’t seem to mind, but their adult children are definitely not happy about it. Jessica Arthur directs the Australian premiere of Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons for Sydney Theatre Company, with Linda Cropper as Nancy and John Bell as Bill. When the family comedy opened on Broadway in January 2020, The New York Times described it as “one of the brightest shows to hit Broadway in years”.
7 June – 3 July, Roslyn Packer Theatre, sydneytheatre.com.au
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Alan Cumming, the Scottish-born, New York-based actor and cabaret star, is the Artistic Director of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival. He has gathered more than 180 performers for his “cabaret love letter” to Australia, among them Eddie Perfect, Tim Minchin and Robyn Archer. Other highlights include Deadly Hearts, a special concert celebrating Australian Indigenous music at which First Nations artists including Dan Sultan, Tia Gostelow, Kee’ahn and Aodhan will perform, and the world premiere of Cumming’s own new show Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age. The AD will also DJ at the late-night Club Cumming.
11–26 June, various venues, adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au
Queensland Theatre: White Pearl
Anchuli Felicia King’s play is set in a cosmetic start-up company in Singapore, which produces a skin whitening product. The day has not begun well. Their new TV commercial has been leaked and is going viral for all the wrong reasons. Someone will surely be fired. When the National Theatre of Parramatta and Sydney Theatre Company co-produced White Pearl in 2019, Limelight gave it four-and-a-half stars. Now QT is staging that production, directed by Priscilla Jackman. Strap yourself in for a hilariously funny, dramatic roller-coaster that will have your jaw on the floor at the brazen, daring brilliance of the writing.
17 June – 10 July, Bille Brown Theatre, Brisbane, queenslandtheatre.com.au
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