Baroque opera gets a new lease of life
Matthew Westwood [The Australian]
LAST month, at the final performance of Madeline Lee - John Haddock and Michael Campbell's emotionally involving new opera - market researchers for Opera Australia were handing out surveys as the audience entered the theatre. One of the questions was about repertoire: which operas do people most want to see on stage.
The usual suspects were there, plus a small handful of more interesting works: operas from the baroque period, the 20th century, and by contemporary composers. Casting an eye over the list, it becomes clear just how much of the opera repertoire audiences are missing.
Others are attempting to fill the gaps. Pinchgut Opera, founded in 2002, is a small Sydney-based company that gathers its resources once a year to present opera from the baroque and pre-baroque periods: Handel's Semele, Purcell's The Fairy Queen and, starting next week, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo.
The Pinchgut name is apt - a reference to the gut strings of early musical instruments, and to the company's lean existence. It's also the nickname for Fort Denison, the island relic of Australia's convict past that, symbolically, lies in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House.
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