Teddy goes Mephistophelean for SA Opera in 2015

A production of Gounod’s Faust in 2015 will herald the return of “truly grand opera” to Adelaide, says State Opera of South Australia CEO and artistic director Timothy Sexton.

Based on the Royal’s Opera House’s Covent Garden production, Faust will be performed from August 22-29 at the Festival Theatre, with support from the State Opera Chorus, a full ballet troupe and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Sexton said “towering sets” would fill the stage.

“The music is among the most beautiful that Gounod ever wrote,” he added.

Tenor James Egglestone will play the ageing scholar Faust, who agrees to sell his soul in exchange for having his wishes granted by Méphistophélès (Teddy Tahu Rhodes). Kate Ladner will take on the role of Marguerite, the young maiden for whom Faust falls.

State Opera’s 2015 season, to be launched tonight, will begin In May with another famous opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Grant Doyle playing the infamous seducer over four performances in May at the Festival Theatre. Sexton said it would entertain both seasoned opera goers and “newbies”.

“Its vaulted sets and spectacular costumes provide a lavish playing field in which Adelaide-born, UK-based baritone Grant Doyle will spread his seductive mischief,” he says in the 2015 program introduction.

“Featuring an incredibly strong cast, including Douglas McNichol, Teresa La Rocca, Virgilio Marino and Sharon Prero, this will be Mozart to die for.”

Coinciding with the season of Faust will be two performances of Verdi’s operatic oratorio Requiem – “a 100-minute journey through some of the most exciting and sublime music Verdi ever wrote” – which will also be performed with the State Opera Chorus and ASO.

A number small works are scheduled throughout the year in the Opera Studio, including Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto Di Susanna(Susanna’s Secret), April 17-19, and Mozart’s Bastien Und Bastienne and Offenbach’s La Chanson De Fortunio, October 9-10.

Like the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the State Opera will continue efforts to widen its audience in 2015, with more “pop-up opera” (where singers perform short pieces in restaurants and other public places) and the launch of several new membership groups. The En Garde! group will cater for people who are either new to the genre or rediscovering opera, with a series of events enabling members to socialise with singers, become familiar with opera stories and take part in backstage tours, while Avant Garde will offer the opportunity to explore different elements of opera with an expert panel in interactive Q&A events.

“It is vital that we make opera as accessible to as many different interest groups as possible,” Sexton said.

“We want to dispel common misconceptions many people have about opera and give people the opportunity to get to know our team.”

The full 2015 program will be available on the State Opera website.

This article first appeared in InDaily. Main image: a scene from the Royal Opera Covent Garden production of Faust in 2011. Picture by Catherine Ashmore.


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