Opera’s 2019 season — rich, relevant and utterly thrilling

The 2019 opera season’s powerful programming across the board sees adrenaline-charged local and international premieres, rediscoveries of Australian classics, exciting new productions and collaborations, and innovation on a grand scale.

Opera’s 2019 season — rich, relevant and utterly thrilling


The season will glitter with awe-inspiring talent from spine-tingling voices to a bevy of brilliant conductors. Next year will see fresh faces too with new leadership teams in Opera Queensland and State Opera South Australia (SOSA) — and of course, we are thrilled to welcome Victorian Opera as a new AMPAG member.

Our opera companies are clear-eyed about their vision for the season.  As befits a national opera company in the 21st century,Opera Australia will deliver one of the company’s most exciting and innovative programs to date. With the introduction of three exciting new digital productions along with a mix of crowd-favourite revivals and concert presentations, Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini says that the 2019 Season will showcase the finest talent from Australia and around the world, both on and off the stage.

Opera Queensland promises to lead a change in opera with a modern and cinematic new look and direction under the leadership team of Artistic Director and CEO Patrick Nolan (in his first season as Artistic Director of the company) and Executive Director, Sandra Willis.

SOSA’s new artistic and executive leadership will field a powerful and impressive 2019 program full of imaginative firsts with a new series spotlighting Australia’s ‘lost’ operas and a rejuvenated education program to take opera out into the community. State Opera Executive Director Yarmila Alfonzetti says the 2019 season ‘truly belongs to the people’.

It wouldn’t be opera without stirring themes of love, power, politics and passion presented in a heady mix of drama and spectacle, and the 2019 season will have it all — and a lot more. Opera Queensland has woven a thread of love, death and ritual through their program.

Victorian Opera will open up new horizons and opportunities for personal discovery, while West Australian Opera’s 2019 season is stained with blood — as life-force, symbol, power and passion pulsing through productions of La Traviata, The Magic Flute, Sweeney Todd and Macbeth.

The Australian premiere of acclaimed visual artist William Kentridge’s Wozzeck, a co-production between Opera Australia and Salzburg Festival, is set to be a highlight of Sydney’s summer.

In a spectacular first, Opera Australia has commissioned Whiteley, a new Australian work on the life of iconic artist, Brett Whiteley. The production will be directed by David Freeman, with music composed by Elena Kats-Chernin, libretto by Justin Fleming, and what is expected to be a spectacular set design by Dan Potra featuring Whiteley’s celebrated artworks.Whitely, Madama ButterflyandAnna Bolena are part of the next phase of Opera Australia’s digital development program and will all premiere in Sydney.In Melbourne, OA’s Australian premiere of Damiano Michieletto’s playful, large-scale production of Rossini’sIl Viaggio a Reims will be a standout. Making Melbourne debuts will be acclaimed director Sir David McVicar’s productions ofCosì fan tutteandFaust as well as Robert Andrew Greene and Dean Bryant’s popular operettaTwo Weddings, One Brideand Aribert Reimann’s chillingGhost Sonata.

Victorian Opera has premiered at least one new Australian work each year since the company was formed in 2005. A new Australian opera based on Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant will broaden the horizons of younger audiences next year. The Brisbane premiere of Patrick Nolan’s Helpmann Award-winning work,A Flowering Tree,kicks off Opera Queensland’s season. Commissioned to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth,A Flowering Treeis composed by John Adams, one of the world's leading contemporary composers.

SOSA has announced the first in a series of re-evaluations of some significant Australian works. The Lost Operas of Oz will spotlight Martin Wesley-Smith’s Boojum!, Christina’s World by Ross Edwards with libretto by Dorothy Hewett, and Madeleine Lee by John Haddock.

‘Creating new opera is very important to State Opera, but often in the push to produce new work, many great works only receive one outing’, SOSA’s Artistic Director, Stuart Maunder said.

Next year, stages around Australia will be graced with some of the international superstars of opera. Sopranos Ermonela Jaho and Lise Lindstrom along with the world’s greatest tenor Jonas Kaufmann will perform with Opera Australia in both Sydney and Melbourne, while Pinchgut Opera will bring Vivica Genaux, one of the world’s great mezzo-sopranos, to Melbourne. Rising opera star, Mongolian Armartuvshin Enkhbat makes his Australian debut asRigolettoalongside celebrated tenor Liparit Avetisyan as the Duke of Mantua, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes will make a welcome return to OA next season.

Accompanying this galaxy of stars will be some of world’s most highly acclaimed conductors, including renowned Verdi specialist Renato Palumbo (OA), some of whom are making long-awaited returns — Johannes Fritzsch (OA) withSalome, Massimo Zanetti (OA) with Madama Butterfly, Pinchas Steinberg, Guillaume Tourniaire and Christian Badea, (OA) and Simone Young (SOSA).

Opera Australia will field some of Australia’s best and brightest next year, including conductors Benjamin Northey, Nicholas Milton, Dane Lam, Tahu Matheson, Warwick Stengards, Guy Simpson and Daniel Smith, and the gifted Gail Edwards who will direct an unmissable production of La Bohème.

Several of Australia’s finest singers will consolidate their recent successes, with Lorina Gore and Michael Honeyman starring in Wozzeck, and Stacey Alleaume making her role debuts as Susanna in Sir David McVicar’s Marriage of Figaroand Sophie in Werther.

The Victorian Opera season opens with the luminous Parsifal performed by some of the world’s greatest Wagnerian singers — mezzo-soprano Katarina Dalayman and bass Peter Rose join internationally revered Melbourne baritone Derek Welton. Stephen Sondheim’sALittle Night Music, that most musical of musicals, features a cast of musical theatre, cabaret and opera stars, headed by Ali McGregor, Simon Gleeson, Nancye Hayes, and Samuel Dundas.Heroic Bel Cantoco-stars the toast of Italian opera Daniela Barcellona and company favourite Carlos E. Bárcenas in a one-night-only concert; and one of Italy’s most renowned Rosinas, Chiara Amarù joins a stellar Australian cast in an essential, made-for-touring interpretation ofThe Barber of Seville.

Opera Queensland’s Patrick Nolan will direct Tosca for the first time in his career. This most famous of operas will be conducted by Oliver von Dohnanyi, Principal Conductor of Ekaterinburg Opera and one of the world's leading opera conductors.  Two internationally based Australian artists return home to star in Tosca — Rachelle Durkin makes her role debut asToscaalongside Angms Wood asCavradossi, and Jose Carbo also stars as Scarpia.

In Stuart Maunder’s staging of Sondheim’s macabre musical Sweeney Todd, Brett Weymark conducts Ben Mingay as Sweeney, Antoinette Halloran as Mrs Lovett, James Clayton as Judge Turpin, Matt Reuben James Ward as Beadle Bamford, Paul O’Neill as Adolfo Pirelli, Nathan Stark as Anthony Hope and Emma Pettemerides as Johanna Baker.

Verdi’s Macbeth promises to be the highlight of the West Australian Opera’s 2019 season. Featuring baritone James Clayton and soprano Antoinette Halloran as the Macbeths, and conducted by Artistic Director Brad Cohen, this new co-production between WA Opera and SOSA will be directed by Stuart Maunder.

Speaking of exciting collaborations, Circa and Opera Queensland will present the underworld story of Orpheus and Eurydice, by Christoph Willibald Gluck, starring Owen Willetts as Orpheus and Natalie Christie Peluso as Eurydice, alongside the Opera Queensland chorus and the Circa ensemble. The work will be directed by Circa Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, in keeping with a long-standing tradition of using leading choreographers to direct this physically dynamic and demanding work. Conductor Natalie Murray-Beale will also conduct Opera Queensland’s first co-production with Bleach Festival — Verdi Requiem — with Patrick Nolan as director at Home Of The Arts (HOTA), Gold Coast in April. WA Opera will team up with Perth Festival in February for the Australian premiere of Barry Kosky’s hugely successful production ofThe Magic Flute. Suzanne Andrade from British performance group1927 will co-direct this visually thrilling, animated production.

Opera will enhance the lives of many more people next year as it weaves its spell within the community. Opera Australia will bring one of the world’s greatest pieces of theatre, the much-loved and admired West Side Story,to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour stage. Perennial favourite La Traviata kicks off the WA Opera season as City of Perth’s Opera in the Park. SOSA’s 2019 season is headlined byCarmen in the Square,a family-friendly outdoor spectacle with a contemporary feel that will draw the entire square into the action. Two new SOSA productions of Puccini’s sublime Madama Butterfly and a glorious contemporary romp through Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado are set to capture new fans.

Victorian Opera has reimagined the potential of opera for everyone, says Artistic Director Richard Mills. Quirky adventures into the unknown, and the fruitfulness of self-discovery provide new horizons for younger audiences inAlice Through the Opera Glass, directed by Elizabeth Hill with text by Emma Muir-Smith and with Olivia Cranwell as Alice. Away from the main stage, the company will deliver ‘a diverse range of musical stylings and smaller recitals to colour and enrich 2019’.

Superstar conductor Simone Young will lead the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and a stellar line-up of artists in celebration of the music of Richard Strauss, for one magical night. Young will be joined on stage by operatic powerhouses Emma Matthews, Catherine Carby, Miriam Gordon-Stewart and Lisa Gasteen.

Our opera companies plan to spread their magic far afield through touring and education programs. Opera Australia will take their acclaimed production of Madame Butterfly on its regional tour across Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia; Victorian Opera will head to Launceston with Barber of Seville, while Opera Queensland will reach out to Queenslanders through regional and school touring works, including Opera at Jimbour, Opera in the Vineyards, and the regional touring work Songs to Die For. SOSA has rejuvenated its education series with activities ranging from a primary schools tour of Elixir of Love, adult educationprograms with the renowned Graham Abbott at the Opera Studio and even somePop-Up Chorus weekends.

The 2019 opera season will be transcendent — just wait and see!