So here we are in February 2013, and the OperaQ office is buzzing with anticipation of an exciting year. In these early months of the year we dive into our planning, creative development and scheduling for the rest of this year and when we look forward into our future plans – we’re already well down the track with our plans for 2014 and beyond.
This month I’m in preparation mode for directing Bach’s sublime St Matthew Passion – it’s always a daunting prospect, but with this monumental, complex work there’s a sense of even greater responsibility. I’m so looking forward to exploring it again with the soloists with whom Conductor Graham Abbott and I collaborated on the original in Perth in 2005 - beautiful soprano Sara Macliver, Andrew Collis and New Zealand bass Paul Whelan (Jesus). In fact our tenor soloist, Robert MacFarlane, was also there as a 17-year old chorister! And it will be great to welcome to Brisbane two new cast members, alto soloist Tobias Cole and our Evangelist, Swedish tenor Leif Aruhn Solén, who is making his Australian debut. Another important element of this production is its lighting, and we have a Tony Award winning lighting designer, no less, in Nigel Levings! So I’m excited and nervous, but any apprehension disappears when I hear the chorus rehearsing downstairs with Narelle French. They’re going to sound amazing, and combined with the Camerata of St John’s led by Brendan Joyce I know Brisbane music-lovers are in for a real treat.
In parallel, we’re steaming along with Cinderella too. Last week Karen Blinco, our Head of Wardrobe, was in Adelaide with designer Dan Potra selecting fabrics and finalising costumes for our wacky new production of Rossini’s Cinderella set in Dickensian London (see pics). Andrew Collis who plays Don Magnifico was in for a fitting for his “fat suit” – the padding that will help turn him into a middle aged man with bad posture and a drinking problem. Meanwhile the scenery is currently being constructed in the New Zealand Opera workshop in Auckland, and I’m nearly finished writing the new English translation.
Last year General Manager Russell Mitchell and I had a good hard look at the company's operations across all areas to see what was working well, and what could be improved, updated,tightened, tweaked or completely rethought. Months of discussion and planning have gone into developing three new programs vital to the future direction of Opera Queensland. Open Stage is a new unit within the company (led by the dynamic new team of Creative Director Jason Barry Smith and Manager Mark Taylor) focussed on engaging more actively with our diverse communities; while in the OperaQ Studio we focus on artists’ skills and ideas, co-creations and making new work. With its focus on innovation, this is a project very close to my heart. Without giving too much away, because we’ll be properly launching it soon, our 2013 OperaQ Studio project is a synthesis of sublime baroque music and contemporary physical theatre, a new work inspired by the operas of GF Handel. All the details will soon be on our website!
And finally, Alchemy is a new series designed to give audiences deeper insights into the company's creative processes and the themes of each work. Once again, all the details will be on our website, along with all sorts of juicy details, background stories, artists’ interviews and much more, continually posted throughout the year. I want our website to be a conversation point, a meeting place between our artists and our audiences – so check in regularly.
So there’s plenty to keep us busy in these first weeks of 2013! I’m looking forward to a thrillingly creative year and sharing my thoughts along the way with you via this blog.
Til next time,