Director and commedia dell’arte expert Emil Wolk explains how post-WW2 Italy is uncannily like present day Australia.

Some 15-dizzying-metres above me, perched on a terrifyingly tiny wooden platform, a tight-rope walker is nonchalantly adjusting his harness. At ground level, a quartet of acrobats are tumbling and cartwheeling up and down the stage, while a juggler sends his clubs flipping through the air. Just discernible above the din, the distant sound of a soprano warming up can be heard.

This is not your average operatic rehearsal room.

For its latest production, Laughter and Tears, Victorian Opera has paired ancient artistic practices with experimental thinking in a bold hybrid of Italian song, contemporary circus, and the 400-year-old street theatre tradition of commedia dell’arte. Featuring music of the Renaissance and the Baroque, alongside trusted operatic masterwork Pagliacci, this production takes a gamble on a combination of art forms that very rarely share the stage.

Laughter and Tears  Director Emil Wolk

As you might expect, death-defying feats and jaw-dropping physicality are vital elements in this newly devised, circus driven show, but Laughter and Tearsisn’t merely...