2014’s powerful Puccini success sets the tone for opera company’s accessible 2015 season.

Opera Queensland’s 2015 season, announced today, will focus on continuing to engage new audiences for opera with innovative programs and unique venue settings. This will build on the successes of this year’s Open Stage and Opera at Jimbour projects as well as the ambitious and highly successful Project PucciniProject Puccini was a world-first initiative which gave hundreds of Queenslanders the opportunity in appear in the chorus of a new production of Puccini’s masterpiece La Bohème. 

Opera Queensland’s Artistic Director, Lindy Hume, is clearly proud of the achievements of 2014. “This year’s Project Puccini was a turning point for us – by taking hundreds of Queenslanders on the journey with us, not only did we unearth new talent and create new artistic networks across eight regions, we comfortably doubled our box office from our last tour, with enthusiastic audiences wherever we went, many of whom had never been to the opera. It was an unconventional and hugely ambitious project, and a risk well worth taking” Hume said.

Opera Queensland Artistic Director Lindy Hume (photograph by Lyndon Mechielsen)

Hume continues, “One of the projects I am most excited about in 2015 is our new Studio 4101, a pop-up performance space, laboratory and bar at South Bank where anyone can come and see a diverse range of performances that run for about an hour in a super-relaxed environment. It is perfect for the artistic risk-takers and first-timers alike”.

2015’s offering from Opera Queensland features a rich mix of grand opera, shoulder-to-shoulder with chamber scale works in quirky and unusual spaces. It’s a strategy that will hopefully please regular opera-goers as well as providing plenty of opportunities for new comers to opera to discover and explore the genre in a less intimidating arena.  One such example of this more accessible programming is Cloud Song, a new highbred production combining opera and theatre performed in Fortitude Valley’s Cloudland nightclub on 29 March. There will also be lots of opportunities for audiences to up close and personal with the music, and the musicians. In the spirit of accessibility the two major highlights of the season – Verdi’s La Traviata and Bernstein’s Candide – are to have an allocation of 3,000 seats for only $25 each – a significant discount on even the cheapest ticket prices at comparable state and national opera companies in Australia.

Opera Queensland’s committment to taking opera to the people will once again see audiences taking to the stage, as 200 Queenslanders from across the state will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform alongside OperaQ artists through their Open Stage workshops.

Kate Cherry’s Helpmann Award nominated production of Verdi’s La Traviata will take place 7-16 May at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre, starring baritone Jonathan Summers, tenor Aldo di Toro and rising star Emma Pearson, to be conducted by maestro Johannes Fritzch with the Opera Queensland Chorus and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Bernstein’s Candide is a very original choice for the company and is sure to be a highlight of the season. It will be directed by OperaQ’s very own Lindy Hume, and will be on at the QPAC Playhouse from 23 July to 1 August. A starry cast including David Hobson, Rachelle Durkin, Bryan Probets and Christine Johnstone (Kranksy Sisters) is sure to be entertaining, with Paul Kildea conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Opera Queensland present Die Fledermaus

Opera at Jimbour returns in 2015 on the 25 July. Presented in partnership with the Queensland Music Festival, a paddock is transformed into the world’ biggest ballroom with a free semi-staged concert of Strauss’s Fledermaus. Jasyon Barry-Smith, Shaun Brown and Virgilio Marino will feature in this performance.

Cloud Song has intriguingly been described as an “Alice in Wonderland-like” experience. Lewis Carroll again provides great inspiration, and the fusion of Opera, Carroll’s characteristically psychedelic view of the world and Cloudland nightclub will certainly result in a unique event.

Soprano Emily Burke and mezzo Hayley Sugars will perform A Morning with Emily and Hayley, where they will share their favourite opera moments including backstage stories, humourous anecdotes and of course, a lot of singing, on May 9 at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC.

Opera Queensland have only revealed their season up until August next year, but Hume has promised some exciting announcements for the conclusion of 2015. Underpinning the whole year however will be OperaQ’s commitment to making opera available to as many people as possible. “We have addressed issues such as affordability and accessibility but it is about so much more than that – we want to excite and challenge people and never compromise on excellence,” says Hume.

More announcements on Opera Queensland’s 2015 season and community outreach work are due in early 2015.

For more information visit operaq.com.au

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