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Subject: Re: An impressive production of Handel's Theodora at Angel Place 6/12/16.
From: DK Conn <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:DK Conn <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 28 Dec 2016 01:50:51 -0500

text/plain (111 lines)

You can listen to a recording of this production for a few more days:


On Wed, 28 Dec 2016 10:22:25 +1100, Andrew Byrne <[log in to unmask]> 

>Dear Colleagues,
>I was bowled over by the whole operatic experience at Pinchgut Opera and
>would recommend it highly for 2017.  Despite an open stage at the City
>Recital Hall we saw a virtually fully staged version of this neglected gem
>thanks to brilliant director Lindy Hume and maestro Erin Helyard.
>The principal singers were all of the highest calibre, supported by the
>'Cantillation' chorus and Pinchgut orchestra.  It is always nice when one
>can interact with the performers and at the Recital Hall one walks past the
>musicians coming into the theatre.  One could not ignore the huge
>contrabassoon both physically (it seemed to be about 3 metres long) as well
>as its booming place in the complex score of this baroque opera.  I think I
>noted a wooden flute too, reminding us why this brass instrument is still
>classified as a 'woodwind'.
>Theodora is a simple but shocking story of early Christians in Roman Antioch
>during the pagan festival of Venus and Juno.  One young Roman soldier
>converts to Christianity for love while another becomes a sympathiser.  The
>staunch and unrepentant Christian is the beautiful young virgin of the
>And Valda Wilson sang the role superbly . with dignity and vocal aplomb,
>despite being condemned to work in a brothel for her baptismal crime against
>the official Roman gods.
>We first meet our protagonists around a large raised table, brilliantly set
>as a modern boardroom meeting.  Following amusing domestic preliminaries,
>the dignitaries are addressed by Valens, the Roman bully-in-charge, well
>sung by basso Andrew Collis.  The love-struck Didymis was played by
>Christopher Lowrey, a counter-tenor with a most pleasing voice.  I do not
>warm to many male sopranos (David Daniels is tops, of course) yet here was
>beauty, style and flair in his rendition of the fiendish vocal lines by
>Handel.  Soldier Septimus was regal faced English tenor Ed Lyon and Irene
>was played by sumptuous mezzo Caitlin Hulcup . both excellent operatic
>voices and actors to wit.
>The start of Act 2 was another piece of theatrical originality being a
>drunken bacchanal which started half way through the intermission.  As we
>came back into the hall the singers were already lurching around the stage
>one by one, bantering with orchestra members, muttering, laughing and
>generally making a stage-party by the time we were all seated.  The drama
>then took us through all the emotions as Theodora's paramour Didymis becomes
>her first customer at the brother, only to swap clothes and attempt escape
>under the un-watchful eye of Septimus.
>It is telling that this venue can be so intimate and user-friendly at just
>half the price per ticket as Opera Australia which was concurrently engaged
>in a Ring series of operas in Melbourne for the very select few who can
>afford the time, travel and enormous ticket prices.  One has an overwhelming
>feeling of youth, vitality and professional enthusiasm at Pinchgut
>performances.  This is quite the opposite of the national opera company
>which has become so survival-conscious, negative and pusillanimous in almost
>everything it does these days.  And YES, I am very jaded that the Ring was
>done in Melbourne rather than Sydney (but spare me the reasons).  However,
>hats off to the national company for putting soprano Greta Bradman into La
>Boheme next week.  Toi toi toi!
>Get a brochure for Pinchgut in 2017!  And if you want to see serious
>international quality opera in an opera house, go to San Francisco!
>Notes by Andrew Byrne .. Wishing all readers a happy and prosperous New Year
>for 2017.
>Andrew's blog
>Pinchgut Opera:

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