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Opera Australia – and Lakmé – wow the OperaDou Jury!
Opera Australia’s sumptuous production of Lakmé with Emma Matthews in the title role caused something of a sensation when it was shown to the OperaDou Jury in early June 2012. Audiences in Europe have had few opportunities to see OA productions until now, so the realization that so much wonderful music-making takes place in Australia was a “very, very pleasant surprise” as one of our seasoned American opera-goers and regular Jury member says in our “Video Crits”. Now that these productions are coming out on Blu-Ray we will at last be able to enjoy more of their performances.
The lavish sets and gorgeous costumes got a special mention from several people on the Jury. It was also a joy to see more long shots than we invariably do in most other operas on disc. The sharpness of the high definition image makes this possible and gives a greater impression of “being there” (no doubt why some 60% of the Jury felt that this HD experience was “better than” or “significantly better than” actually attending a live performance! ).
One of the French Jury members was a retired first violinist who has played in performances of Lakmé at the Paris and Lyon operas. He too was amazed at the quality of the OA production, greatly admiring the staging and singling out the orchestral playing and Aldo Di Toro’s clear tenor voice for special mention.
However, the greatest, unequivocal and most generous praise was of course for Emma Matthews. She was a discovery for everyone. And what a discovery! She is so believable as Lakmé and sings with such purity, clarity and (apparently) effortless command of her amazing voice. She brought tears to the eyes of quite a few Jury members with the famous coloratura showpiece aria the “Bell Song” which, combined with her radiant smile and authentic Indian gestures, was a moment of sheer delight.
What the Jury liked (quotes):
“The costumes were superb, and along with the market scene were very authentic. Exactly how I feel the ‘Romantic’ Raj must have been… The singing was wonderful, especially Emma Matthews. And what’s more, she’s a very good actress !!!
« J’ai beaucoup aimé la mise en scéne et les costumes… Une très belle production d’un très haut niveau. Une découverte très originale (production australienne). »
“The interpretation of a tropical environment was excellent and as accurate as possible. I liked being able to see emotions and facial expressions (not possible in a theatre). Also the experienced voices of the ensembles were outstanding.”
« Le décor est de toute beauté et les costumes sont somptueux. La voix de Emma Matthews est d’une clarté fabuleuse. C’est la meilleure version de Lakmé que j’ai eu la chance de voir… (et j’en ai vu pas mal !!! )»
“Absolutely sumptuous! Lakmé herself was STUNNING !!!”
« Emma Matthews — belle et brillantissime. »
“Loved the amazing detail in the set, shown by the high resolution of the video. Also admired the superb quality of singing.”
« MAGNIFIQUE ! Les voix, le décor, les costumes, l’interprétation, les émotions, l’orchestre... »
The staging, the costumes, the energy, the voices… it was all ex-tra-ord-inary !
« J’ai adoré les beau décors colorés et la finesse des costumes, ainsi que les belles voix très pleines. Aussi les prises de vues qui participent à l’émotion en particulier le final derrière la voile du rideau… »
“This was a very fine production with a fairy-tale quality about it. Emma Matthews voice—and her acting—were both out of this world. I was swept away by the charm of the lovers’ duets…”
« Les décors et costumes sont splendides et flamboyants. Par-dessus tout, l’interprétation de Emma Matthews était fantastique: la maitrise vocale, sa tessiture, sa façon de jouer… incroyable. »
“I greatly admired the voices of Lakmé and her lover. The music was fabulous as well—with many memorable melodies…”
What the Jury liked less (quotes):
“There were no visual references to the Sydney Opera House. This could have been a production from anywhere.”
« Rien à dire. J’ai tout aimé. »
“There were one or two moments (not many) when the balance between singers and orchestra was not quite perfect.”
« Quelques petites longueurs au début du 3eme acte... »
“Didn’t highlight the venue. I would really have liked to see the inside of the Sydney Opera.”
Singing / performance: A
HDVD production: A
Overall ranking: A
This was the first time we have ever screened an Opera Australia production — but it certainly won’t be the last!
Opera Australia is dedicated to enriching Australia's cultural life by offering productions that excite audiences and develop the art form.
It is Australia's largest and busiest performing arts organisation, with over 600 opera performances a year, including two mainstage opera seasons in Sydney and Melbourne and a whole range of other activities including free outdoor performances.
Opera Australia also has a touring company, Oz Opera, performing in regional centres, capital cities and schools, very often giving people their very first experience of opera!
Find out more about Opera Australia here.
Also visit the “Discovery” section of their website and take a look at clips from some of their productions…
Opera Australia also screens several of its productions in cinemas across Australia and since the end of April these are also being shown in UK cinemas. They are not (yet) available in France, but these superb productions are now coming out on Blu-Ray for everyone to enjoy. We are planning to show several to the OperaDou Jury in 2012/2013, so watch out for the reviews.
The OperaDou Jury
Comments from Nikki Samuel, (an
accomplished flautist and opera aficionado)
and Bill & Lynn Fell who travel the world for opera — but had never seen an OA production until now !
Jury members are also asked whether they want to see the production again, would buy or recommend the disc and how they feel it compares with “being there”.
"Would you like to see this production again, on TV or in the cinema?"
Three Australian Jury members, Meg, Peter and Julie say how proud they feel to be Australian after seeing this production!
French Jury members say how much they admire the staging, costumes and Emma Matthews !!!