THE secret is out — Canberra-raised opera star Lorina Gore will perform the lead role in Puccini’s “La Rondine” for the inaugural production of the newly-launched Canberra company, National Opera.
The announcement was made at the National Portrait Gallery tonight (February 6) by artistic director Peter Coleman-Wright, who told those present that he had chosen the work because it had a terrific score with many roles, especially for females, and he was sure Canberra audiences would love the music, to be directed and conducted by Stephen Mould.
The opera, to be staged at Llewellyn Hall (December 8-12) will also feature the talents of other Opera Australia luminaries Canberra’s Tobias Cole as the Chorus master and Henry Choo as the romantic lead Ruggero.
In another coup for the well-connected Coleman-Wright, Sydney artist Kate Gaul has been engaged as director of the production.
Gaul, as we recently reported in “CityNews” is the director of the Hayes Theatre production of “HMS Pinafore”. Tasmanian-raised and NIDA-trained, she has won swags of awards for her productions in opera and theatre for her in-yer-face interpretations, of which Cole told us: “She and I love the same kind of theatre.”
Coleman-Wright and company manager Stephanie McAlister said they had already cautioned Gaul that it should not be set on Mars or in a gay bar, but for preference in the café society of Vienna where the story is set.
A relatively unfamiliar work, “La Rondine,” (the Swallow) was whipped up by Puccini and librettist Giuseppe Adami in response to the runaway success of “The Merry Widow,” despite the composer’s vow that “an operetta is something I will never do.”
It concerns the search for love of wayward courtesan Magda, a plum role for Gore, and one uncannily similar to Violetta in in “La Traviata”, which Gore has played for Opera Australia, meaning there were no surprises when she treated the guests tonight to a rendition of “E strano! e strano!” (Sempre libera) from the Verdi opera.
But “La Rondine’s” most famous aria, “Chi Bel sogno di Doretta,” was performed last night by Rachael Thoms, who was joined by two young Canberra singers, Hannah Carter and Madeline Anderson, suggesting that Coleman-Wright and his wife, soprano Cheryl Barker (now teaching at the ANU School of Music) should have no trouble finding local singers to join the principals.
“La Rondine”, Llewellyn Hall, December 8-12. Bookings not yet open. A crowd funding campaign has been set up at australianculturalfund.org.au, search for “National Opera.”