Festival of Voices
For classical music fans, the eclectic Tasmanian vocal extravaganza includes Gordon Hamilton’s Requiem Recomposed, which fills the gaps Mozart left empty at the time of his death, and a tribute to composer Don Kay (see page 65). The Festival’s Voices at 5 will feature a cappella women’s chorus Hobart Harmony, Melbourne youth choir Exaudi and more. Cabaret highlights include John O’Hara’s #VAL, which pays tribute to mothers, and Catherine Alcorn, who will be joined by comedian Bob Downe and Australian drag royalty, Verushka Darling.
30 June – 11 July, Hobart, festivalofvoices.com
West Australian Symphony Orchestra: Asher Fisch conducts Mahler’s Fifth
WASO’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser will be in town for two performances of Mahler’s mighty Fifth Symphony. Opening ominously with a fanfare on solo trumpet, the work proceeds through a series of crushing funeral marches. A massive and manic scherzo ends in the calm reflections of the famous Adagietto, Mahler’s outpouring of love for his young wife, Alma. The contrapuntal finale is as joyous as anything the composer ever wrote. By way of contrast, the concert on 2 July also includes Mozart’s lively and thematically sophisticated Symphony No 38, popularly known as the ‘Prague’ Symphony.
1 & 2 July, Perth Concert Hall, waso.com.au
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra: Grace Clifford plays Bruch
Nicholas Braithwaite conducts the ASO in a concert that features Grace Clifford playing Bruch’s ever-popular First Violin Concerto. The concert also includes Sibelius’s Second Symphony – which exudes the spirit of the great Scandinavian outdoors and bursts with Finnish patriotism – and Miriam Hyde’s An Adelaide Overture. The work was written when the young composer had recently returned from her studies in London and was intended to celebrate the centenary of the founding of Adelaide in 1936.
2 & 3 July, Festival Theatre, Adelaide, aso.com.au
Musica Viva: Genevieve Lacey & Marshall McGuire
The endlessly original recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey spent part of her time in lockdown coming up with collaborative ideas that might provide a feeling of sanctuary in a world gone mad. Taking inspiration from the bowerbird’s ability to create shelters out of a variety of fragments, Lacey came up with first the album Bower, recorded with friend and colleague, harpist Marshall McGuire, and now a stage production for Musica Viva. An immersive concert with sound, lights, and featuring dramaturgy by Ruth Little, Lacey and McGuire perform works from the Baroque to the present day, with plenty of Australian premieres in the mix.
10–26 July, National Tour, musicaviva.com.au
Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Britten & Shostakovich
Umberto Clerici conducts a pair of 20th-century masterpieces. Britten’s impressionistic Four Sea Interludes were extracted from his opera Peter Grimes and represent the sea in all its moods, from the glitter of sunlight on the waves of a Sunday morning to the visceral power of a storm off the North Sea coast. After his Fifth Symphony, Shostakovich’s Tenth is probably his most popular. A powerful dissection of the Soviet regime in relation to the artist, it is thought to include musical portraits of both the composer and his nemesis, Joseph Stalin.
14–17 July, Sydney Town Hall, sydneysymphony.com
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra: Bach’s Universe
Paul Dyer has created a Bach pasticcio in which musicians from the ABO explore the composer’s works for solo instrument. In this theatrically conceived performance, individuals arrive one by one on the stage beneath a column of light to offer intimate interpretations of this wonderfully expressive music. As more and more musicians join, the performance grows to incorporate ensemble works including, in his Australian debut, German Baroque violinist Jonas Zschenderlein as soloist in Bach’s Violin Concerto in E. The concert culminates with Zschenderlein directing the Orchestral Suite No 3, which includes the famous Air on the G String.
15–18 July Melbourne Recital Centre; 21–30 July, City Recital Hall, Sydney; brandenburg.com.au
Canberra Symphony Orchestra: Within and Without
Sam Weller leads the CSO in a bold program that brings together four Australian composers – Moya Henderson, Ella Macens, Peggy Polias and Paul Dean – along with soprano Lorina Gore, the orchestra’s 2021 Artist in Focus. The concert opens with Henderson’s Kudikynah Cave. It features a world premiere from Macens that combines elements of popular and classical music with influences from her Latvian heritage, and another from Polias that invites the listener to journey through time and nature. The program closes with Dean’s Amid a Crowd of Stars.
22 July, Atrium, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, cso.org.au
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Copland & Dvořák
Conductor Benjamin Northey has a special way with Copland, which should make this concert that includes the composer’s iconic Appalachian Spring one to shell out for. Written for Martha Graham’s dance company, the music tells of a day in the life of a rural community, with dancing preachers, a famous Shaker hymn tune, and plenty of swirling gingham. The program’s folk-related theme continues with Miriam Hyde’s Village Fair, a lively, balletic depiction of a local shindig written in 1943, and a selection of Dvořák’s tuneful Slavonic Dances, those ever-tuneful essays, inspired by Braham’s popular Hungarian Dances, that guarantee tapping toes through their whirligig energy and charm.
22 & 23 July, Melbourne Town Hall & Monash, mso.com.au
Australian Festival of Chamber Music
COVID hit AFCM hard in 2020, so for this 30th anniversary year Artistic Director Kathryn Stott plans to make up for it with a carnival-themed program of 133 works by 112 composers, four world premieres and five Australian premieres. Keeping it local, more than 40 Australian musicians will be heading north, as well as the Goldner String Quartet in their 25th anniversary year and three local groups including Dancenorth. Returning artists include former AD, Piers Lane and didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton, while those making their AFCM debut include baritone David Greco and 13-year-old violin prodigy Christian Li.
23 July – 1 August, Townsville, QLD, afcm.com.au
Opera and Vocal
Opera Australia: Aida
With its towering digital screens offering sensory and sometimes dramatic overload, Davide Livermore’s 2018 production drew a mixed critical reaction, but there is plenty of splendour and judicious use of video. A stimulating cast features Italian tenor Stefano La Colla (a noted Calaf at La Scala) making his Opera Australia debut as Radamès while sharing the role with Uzbekistani tenor Najmiddin Mavlyanov. American soprano Leah Crocetto and Russian soprano Elena Guseva take on the title role, Elena Gabouri and Agnieszka Rehlis are Aida’s rival Amneris, and Warwick Fyfe and Michael Honeyman sing her father Amonasro. Lorenzo Passerini and Tahu Matheson do the conducting honours.
Until 13 August, Sydney Opera House, opera.org.au
Victorian Opera: Lorelei
Part operetta, part cabaret, this revival of a hilarious hit show from 2018 sees Victorian Opera regulars Dimity Shepherd, Ali McGregor, and Antoinette Halloran as a trio of sirens plying their murderous trade while questioning their role in a “woke world” that frowns on their traditional habit of luring sailors to a watery grave. With music and lyrics by Julian Langdon, Casey Bennetto and Gillian Cosgriff, Sarah Giles’ production earned the three fashionista sirens a Green Room Award in a work that uses an old, old tale to question patriarchal norms. Phoebe Briggs conducts the Orchestra Victorian Opera Chamber Ensemble.
29 June – 2 July, Palais Theatre, St Kilda, victorianopera.com.au
Opera Australia: West Side Story
West Side Story is hailed as one of the greatest musicals of all time. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it is set in the Upper West Side of New York in the 1950s, but its snappy Bernstein score and pointed Sondheim lyrics still land punches. Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment present the BB Group production, directed by Joey McKneely, whose background includes being choreographed by Jerome Robbins himself. It’s no surprise then that the dancing is excellent. “Lithe, precise, energetic and evocative, it’s easily one of the best aspects of this production,” said Patricia Maunder for Limelight.
29 June – 17 July, Crown Theatre, Perth; 24 July – 22 August, QPAC, Brisbane; opera.org.au
State Opera South Australia: The Tell-Tale Heart
State Opera South Australia’s brilliantly conceived The Lost Operas of Oz series continues with an ingenious, site-specific staging of Dennis Vaughan’s The Tell-Tale Heart. This 2005 one-man opera is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy classic about a murderer who plots to kill an old man because he has an “evil eye” and is subsequently tormented by the endless sound of a beating heart. Hugh Halliday’s new production will take place in the spooky environs of Z Ward Glenside – home to the “criminally insane” of South Australia’s for 90 years – and offers a tour de force opportunity for Opera Australia regular James Egglestone.
1–4 July, Z Ward Glenside, Adelaide, stateopera.com.au
Opera Queensland: The Marriage of Figaro
Opera Queensland’s most anticipated outing this season is this brand-new production of Mozart’s masterly take on Beaumarchais’s comedy of manners. Musical standards are in the capable hands of returning Aussie maestro Dane Lam, while OQ Artistic Director Patrick Nolan’s new staging, designed by Marg Horwell, features an impressive looking cast with Jeremy Kleeman as the wily Figaro and Sofia Troncoso as his savvy fiancée Susanna. The duplicitous Count and ill-starred Countess are sung by José Carbó and Eva Kong.
15–31 July, QPAC, Brisbane, oq.com.au
Opera Australia: Otello
Verdi’s masterpiece demands a thoughtful yet epic production, which is what it gets from Harry Kupfer in this classic staging first seen in 2003. The score calls for three of the finest singing voices, while Boito’s adaptation of Shakespeare provides plenty of opportunities for visceral, yet subtle acting. Conductor Andrea Battistoni’s track record suggests musical standards will be high with Yonghoon Lee doubtless offering a high-volume vocal performance in the title role, though previous experience suggests the acting may prove a stretch. Karah Son will be his Desdemona with the reliably villainous Marco Vratogna as Iago.
16–29 July, Sydney Opera House, opera.org.au
West Australian Opera: Cav & Pag
The tried and tested pairing of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana – a tale of adultery and simmering passions – and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci – the ultimate scary clown opera – gets an outing in Perth with an impressive cast of ‘local’ singers boasting international credentials. Christopher van Tuinen conducts Andrew Sinclair’s 2003 Visconti-inspired production with Paul O’Neill taking on the double-whammy of love rat Turiddu and the murderous Canio. In Cav, Ashlyn Tymms sings the tragic Santuzza, and in quite a coup, Emma Matthews is tempted back to the stage to make her role debut as the hapless Nedda in Pagliacci. With WASO in the pit, this should be a goody.
17–24 July, His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, waopera.asn.au
Come From Away: Sydney
This heart-warming musical by Canadian husband-and-wife team David Hein and Irene Sankoff tells the true story of what happened when 38 planes bound for New York were diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 attacks. With its infectious folk-rock music and uplifting story about kindness and the power of community, it’s irresistible.
Until August 22, Capitol Theatre, comefromaway.com.au
Luckiest Productions: Merrily We Roll Along
Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical famously moves backwards in time from the disillusionment and rancour of three former friends to their optimism and close bond at the start of their career. Merrily We Roll Along explores friendship, compromise and the high price of success. The highly anticipated production, which stars Andrew Coshan, Elise McCann and Ainsley Melham, is in good hands under director Dean Bryant, who led the excellent Hayes productions of Sweet Charity, Little Shop of Horrors and Sondheim’s Assassins.
25 June – 31 July, Hayes Theatre Co Potts Point, Sydney, hayestheatre.com.au
Brink Productions: The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Thornton Wilder’s 1927 novel, set in 18th-century Peru, has been adapted for the stage by Phillip Kavanagh and directed by Chris Drummond. When an Incan rope bridge collapses, sending five strangers to their deaths, it unleashes a tale of conspiracy, seduction and betrayal. Paul Capsis plays the formidable actress Camila Perichole, while Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan and Irish guitarist Manus Noble infuse the work with the heat of Latin American music. The production was co-commissioned by the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Adelaide Guitar Festival.
9–24 July, Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, bass.net.au
Sydney Theatre Company: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Kip Williams’ dazzling adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel, starring Eryn Jean Norvill in all 26 roles, won five-star reviews from publications including Limelight when it opened in 2020 and promptly sold out, hence this return season. The use of live and pre-recorded video on an increasing number of screens is mind-blowingly clever and perfectly in tune with the themes of the story, while Norvill gives an extraordinary performance. This really is thrilling theatre for the 21st century.
24 July – 22 August, Roslyn Packer Theatre, sydneytheatre.com.au
Queensland Theatre: Prima Facie
Queensland Theatre presents the gripping Griffin Theatre Company production of Suzie Miller’s Prima Facie, directed by Lee Lewis. The solo play stars Sheridan Harbridge as Tessa, a criminal lawyer at the top of her game. Tessa loves to win, even when defending clients accused of sexual assault. But her faith in the law’s ability to deliver justice for rape victims comes tumbling down when she herself is raped. When Prima Facie premiered in May 2019, Limelight described it as a play “of passionate moral intelligence”, and said that Harbridge offered up “a perfectly calibrated performance full of emotional truth”.
14 July – 7 August, Bille Brown Theatre, queenslandtheatre.com.au
Bangarra Dance Theatre: SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert
This new work choreographed by Stephen Page and Frances Rings tells the story of the Walmajarri people from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, who between the 1920s and 60s were removed and forced into hard labour on pastoral stations. This is the Country of Wangkajunga woman Ningali Josie Lawford-Wolf (1967–2019), a close cultural collaborator of Bangarra. SandSong honours her legacy and family.
Until 10 July, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House; Canberra, 15–17 July; Bendigo, 23–24 July; bangarra.com.au
The Australian Ballet: Anna Karenina
Adapted from Tolstoy’s beloved novel, this co-production between The Australian Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, is choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, a former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Theatre designer Tom Pye captures the opulent world in which Anna Karenina falls in love with Vronsky, a handsome young officer, while projections by Finn Ross intensify the atmosphere. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra will play the specially commissioned score by Russian composer Ilya Demutsky.
9–15 July, Adelaide Festival Centre, australianballet.com.au
Get arts events delivered to your inbox with our free monthly email.