International superstars, the finest Australian Baroque ensembles and a fully staged Orlando are among the highlights.

Coming from nowhere, or so it seemed, last year’s inaugural Hobart Baroque Festival turned out to be a complete hit with a full scale production, courtesy of the Royal Opera House, of Haydn’s L’isola disabitataand a dazzling vocal display from David Hansen, known by many as simply “the guy who sings high”.

This year looks set to raise the bar even higher with the first presentation in Australia of a production from the Glimmerglass Summer Festival – in this case, Handel’s delightful Orlando. Known as “America’s Glyndebourne”, Glimmerglass, in upstate New York, have an enviable reputation for early music stagings replete with authentic period costumes et al. In this beautiful production by director Chas Rader-Shieber (also shown to great acclaim at New York’s Lincoln Center) the knight Orlando and his love-bewitched companions wander through a lush forest governed by both the wise counsel of the magician Zoroastro and the reckless arrows from Cupid’s bow.

Glimmerglass’ Orlando

Trumping that, however, might well be the exclusive Australian debut of 23-year-old Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva. Hailed as one of the most exciting coloraturas on the...