Emma Matthews reprises her acclaimed performance as the alluring Partenope, having won the 2011 Helpmann Award for best female performer in the role.
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Women fighting duels, wearing pants and winning wars. It’s all part of Handel’s sensual and crazy scheme of desire, passion, parody and intrigue in which three suitors seek Partenope’s hand in marriage.
The adventurous director Christopher Alden’s spare and elegant art deco production relocates Handel’s bitter erotic comedy from the antiquity of Naples to 1920s Paris. He cleverly reimagines the setting of the opera as the smart art crowd who hang with the Surrealists. Partenope is fashioned as a society hostess à la Nancy Cunard while Emilio is a Man Raystyle photographer.
A femme fatale of sorts, Partenope plays two of her lovers Arsace and Armindo off against each other, and propels her country into war in an effort to avoid the unwelcome flirtations of a third. The dramatic stakes are heightened when Arsace’s obsessive ex-lover Rosmira arrives disguised as a man to persuade her former partner to return. Emma Matthews reprises her acclaimed performance as the alluring Partenope, having won the 2011 Helpmann Award for best female performer in the role.
Handel’s blissful opera is adorned with lively and lyrical characters. Alden’s stagecraft is riveting and deft. There are card games and late-night drinking sessions, and comic routines involving gas masks, bayonets and helmets that parody the horror of war. Ultimately art replaces war to become a mirror for society to see its true nature.
Opera Australia’s associate music director Anthony Legge conducts a uniformly outstanding cast: Catherine Carby, Victoria Lambourn and Kanen Breen, whose portrayal of Emilio earned him a Helpmann Award for best supporting actor in an opera. English translation by Amanda Holden.
A co-production with English National Opera.
What are the critics saying?
"...a wickedly cheeky, gender-bending comic love game." The Australian
"This is a stunning interpretation of Handel's opera, full of wit, charm and cheek." The Daily Telegraph
"This is a brilliantly stylish reimagining of a noble score."The Sydney Morning Herald
|Rehearsed by||Tama Matheson|
|Set Designer||Andrew Lieberman|
|Costume Designer||Jon Morrell|
|Lighting Designer||Adam Silverman|