Current Issue #488

Sweeney Todd and Seventeenth Doll star in 2020 State Opera season

Sweeney Todd and Seventeenth Doll star in 2020 State Opera season

Jimmy Chi’s groundbreaking musical Bran Nue Dae, a ‘lost’ adaptation of Ray Lawler’s classic play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and one of the 20th century’s most recognisable pieces of operatic music feature in an eclectic 2020 State Opera South Australia season.

Following the success of this year’s open-air experiment Carmen In The Square, the State Opera will open its 2020 season with Carl Orff’s 1934 cantata Carmina Burana at Memorial Drive in March. With Orff’s O Fortuna a staple of advertising and pop culture – its “insert dramatic music here” ubiquity was parodied in Carlton Draught’s 2005 Big Ad campaign – this performance of the full work will give the public a chance to appreciate an iconic piece of music in its original context performed by the full State Opera Chorus, Young Adelaide Voices, and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Previously announced in April, Bran Nue Dae is set to tour the country in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2020. Adapted for the big screen by director Rachel Perkins in 2010, this collaboration with Opera Australia, Opera Queensland and the West Australian Opera will see the State Opera return to Her Majesty’s Theatre following the completion of its extensive multi-million dollar transformation.

Cast of Bran Nue Dae (Photo: State Opera South Australia)

Continuing the Australian storytelling will be season closer Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, a revival of Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy’s mid-90s adaptation of Ray Lawler’s 1955 play. State Opera will mount this lesser-known take on an oft-staged staple of Australia literature reading lists as part of their ongoing Lost Operas of Oz project, which kicked off this year with Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith’s Lewis Carroll-inspired 1986 work Boojum!

A Lindy Hume-directed production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville will open in May, while a very different kind of barber will arrive later in the year with a production of Stephen Sondheim’s hit 1979 musical Sweeney Todd starring Antoinette Halloran and Ben Mingay, who will reprise the title role after a season with the West Australian Opera in July. Helping the demon barber of Fleet Street fill the year’s quota for onstage blood will be Verdi’s Macbeth in November.

Ben Mingay as Sweeney Todd (Photo: James Rogers / West Australian Opera)

French Baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants will return to South Australia for the first time in 25 years to perform Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera at the Festival Theatre, featuring lauréats of William Christie’s Jardin des Voix, an internationally renowned collection of the most promising emerging voices in early music. Celebrated Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja will perform in South Australia for the first time in an Adelaide Town Hall recital alongside Amelia Farrugia in October, while Kiwi baritone Taddy Rahu Rhodes will revisit the repertoire of beloved Adelaide-born 20th century opera star Peter Dawson.

The season marks the State Opera’s second program under artistic director Stuart Maunder, who along with executive director Yarmila Alfonzetti have spearheaded efforts by the organisation to build new audiences and experiences. It’s an approach that is certainly reflected in the 2020 program’s continued embrace of new venues and a blend of accessible, widely-known stories and well-loved opera standards.

Maunder and Alfonzetti took over the State Opera’s leadership in February 2018 following the shock 2017 resignation of longtime director Timothy Sexton, who is currently set to face trial over alleged child sex offences.

Tickets for the State Opera’s 2020 season are on sale now

State Opera South Australia 2020 Season

Carmina Burana
Memorial Drive Park
Saturday 28 March

Teddy Tahu Rhodes in Recital
Adelaide Town Hall
Sunday 5 April

The Barber of Seville
Festival Theatre

7 – 16 May

Les Arts Florissants 
Festival Theatre
Friday 15 May

Bran Nue Dae
Her Majesty’s Theatre

19 – 23 August

Sweeney Todd
Her Majesty’s Theatre

3 – 10 October

Joseph Calleja in Recital
Adelaide Town Hall
Wednesday 7 October

Her Majesty’s Theatre

12 – 21 November

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
Her Majesty’s Theatre

18 – 20 November

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox