Special OperaMania shows created for Aussie debut
MOSCOW'S Novaya Opera has put together a "best of" selection of Europe's great operas, piano concertos and ballets for its first-ever tour of Australia.
Premiering at the Adelaide Festival earlier this month, OperaMania was specifically created for the opera's Australian debut.
The bill is like a tasting plate of the most famous opera arias, from Puccini's Nessun Dorma to La donna e mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto and Rossini's Largo al factotum from The Barber of Seville.
The show also features several stunning ballet scenes from The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Saint-Saens performed by four dancers from the Russian Imperial Ballet.
Keeping a watchful eye over the entire show, and having a bit of fun with the audience, is conductor Andrei Lebedev.
Speaking to me backstage after the company's second and final performance in Adelaide, Lebedev said he was blown away by the "stunning" Australian audiences.
"They're very easy going, very excited, emotional and they can show their excitement," he said with the help of a translator.
"I think the audience is very sensitive to all our theatrical tricks which we use."
At one point during the show, Lebedev turns around to effortlessly conduct the audience through several rounds of loud and soft clapping which is surprisingly in time with the orchestra.
"All opera is a very serious show and what we tried to do was to make opera a little bit lighter and this is what I like," he said.
"I would enjoy equally a performance like this as well as any serious opera with a tragic ending like any of the Russian operas because as I can see opera is something outstanding whether it is in a serious way or a lighter way.
"Being so popular for many centuries has proven that this is immortal art."
OperaMania is a great introduction for those new to the opera as it's a cheeky, light-hearted highlights show featuring props and choreography to help theatre-goers understand what's going on in each aria.
"We tried to make it as easy as possible to accept because even my part when I'm performing in a very dramatic moment, it's about life or death, we are using umbrellas," said tenor Oleg Dolgov, referring to his soaring rendition of Puccini's Nessun Dorma.
"We make it a little bit cheeky."
But that's not to say Dolgov does not still respect the aria, mostly famously sung by Pavarotti.
"Even if I wanted to change something I wouldn't because it is full of a certain thoughts and ideas," he said.
"Even playing around on the stage, it shouldn't be changed at all. It should be thick and bright."
Soprano Galina Koroleva is particularly funny in her supporting scenes in Merce dilette amiche from Verdi's Sicilian Vespers and Va sossopra il mio cervello from Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers.
Young pianist Katerina Kolpakova also gets the chance to shine in several solos including Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1 and a medley of Chip, Liszt and Rachmaninov.
OperaMania plays QPAC's Concert Hall on Sunday April 28.