Friday, February 20, 2009


There is precious little for a Wagner lover in Australia these days and certainly none in Sydney. As far as I can see, anyone wanting a live Wagner fix this year will need to be in Adelaide this November for the State Opera of South Australia's new production of Wagner's coming-of-age sea dream drama, The Flying Dutchman.

November 7 | 10 | 12 | 14  Adealide Festival Theatre 7.30pm

Priority booking has already opened, and general public booking starts 3 March. (I wouldn't wait if I was keen to be well seated).

BASS (Adelaide) 131246 for Australia-wide callers. International call +618 8205 2304

SOSA are building up good momentum as our major Wagner house with the 1998 Pierre Strosser Chatelet Ring (Jeffrey Tate), the 2004 Elke Neidhardt full-on Antipodean Ring (Asher Fisch), and Australia's first staged performance of Parsifal in 2001 (Jeffrey Tate).

A return of the 2004 Ring is looking increasingly unlikely, in Adelaide or anywhere else. Apart from funding problems, I read recently that there is now considerable deterioration in the stored  sets.  Shame shame shame on the ABC for not filming this milestone, this pinnacle, not only in Opera, but in Australian theatre. Sandra Levy, the finger points at you.

Adelaide is a good host city, a pioneering city in a pioneering State, with a fine orchestra now properly recognised as on par with the Wagnerian best: "the playing of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, which places this ensemble on a par with the most prestigious orchestras in the world: luminous strings, warm woodwind and powerful brass – so important in Wagner..."  

The festival theatre is up to the task, as well as being fitted with the Lares Artificial Acoustic Enhancement System. This is not direct voice or pit amplification. It is the electronic modification of the hall acoustic, doing what design, materials, and reflectors otherwise achieve. The sound is warm, full and very immediate, but suffers no loss of perspective or directionality.

The team is:

Conductor   Nicholas Braithwaite

Director   Chris Drummond

Lighting and Sets   Geoff Cobham

Dutchman   John Wegner

Senta   Margaret Medlyn

Erik   Stuart Skelton

Daland   Daniel Sumegi

Mary   Katherine Tier

Steersman   Angus Wood

Sydneysiders and Adelaide Ringheads are pretty familiar with Wegner, Skelton and Sumegi, and it is great they can get a Wagner gig down here. I'm really keen to hear Margaret Medlyn, English born, New Zealand based, the Kundry in Adelaide in 2001.

The company's notes say designs will feature "amazing new lighting technologies and special effects". I hope that's another way of saying a fantastic head trip, beacuse it is a fantastic head trip I want.

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