Opera’s big night of hits

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RUSSIAN producer Gennady Polluck and the director of the Moscow Novaya Opera, Valery Raku, have come up with a “new format” designed to defeat the most dyed-in-the-wool opera sceptics.

In a blockbuster show that premiered this month in Adelaide, they’ve combined operatic arias with classical piano recitals and ballet in a seamless production lasting just around two hours.

Polluck, a self-confessed opera maniac who lived in Adelaide for many years before repatriating to Russia in 1999, has long dreamt of bringing Russian opera stars to Australia.

I met up with him at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, still fresh from standing ovations and rave reviews from the night before.

A successful businessman with a background in IT, Polluck is a pragmatist who quickly figured out that bringing a full-scale production of an epic such as Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov might break the budget without pulling Australian audiences in. Also, as he says, “because of the internet, people can’t focus for very long”.

The solution is the catchy concept of “Operamania”, coming to Llewellyn Hall later this month.

There’ll be 10 classical soloists and four classical ballet dancers in full costume and a 44-piece symphony orchestra, all under the baton of star conductor Andrey Lebedev.

The show, Polluck says, will be distinguished from run-of-the-mill nights at the opera by the sheer quality of the artists and the imaginative and often witty staging of the great standard hits from “The Magic Flute”, “The Barber of Seville”, “Carmen” and so on. From Rigoletto, for instance, we will hear “La donna e mobile”. All the segments will be between two and four minutes long and most of them are to do with love.

Interspersed with the arias will be ballet sequences such as Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty”. As well, pianist Ekaterina Kolpakova will perform well-loved works by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov.

Visually, the show is blended together by having the entire orchestra on stage and projecting artworks adapted by designer Sergei Skornetsky from paintings by early 20th-century artists such as Wassily Kandinsky.

“Operamania,” is hugely high-tech, Polluck says, and hugely expensive too, costing him approximately $10,000 to bring each artist here. That leads him to think that if he ever brings a full Russian opera to Australia – “Prince Igor” perhaps – he would need to use local orchestras and dancers.

But that would be another story.


“Operamania”, Llewellyn Hall, 7.30pm, April 23-24 and 2pm, April 25. Bookings to 1300 795012 or ticketek.com.au

Win tickets to see Operamania at citynews.com.au


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