Went to the opera tonight (La Sonnambula) and nothing happened. Action – nil; plot – zero minus. We had the usual Opera Australia problem of insisting on squeezing its massive chorus into the smallest spaces. A couple of leads had obviously undergone an acting bypass and the backdrop looked like a Bunnings version of a discount Sound of Music set, although the tilted revolve did have its moments of usefulness.
But all that can be forgiven. It was a magic night of seamless immaculate music, flowing forward under the baton of bel canto maestro Richard Bonynge. The voice of Emma Matthews will remain long in the memory as she went from strength to strength and finished the night off, literally, on a high note – and another high note, and another and …..
Little wonder that we saw that rare Melbourne phenomenom of a standing ovation for an Opera Australia production.
Plots and action rarely matter in opera, but it does usually help to have the semblance of a story to fill in the gaps between the arias. With La Sonnambula, they count for nothing; this is a simply a musical feast, flowing forward almost without a break from one magic moment to another.
Joshua Bloom (who would be out acted by the wooden horse of Troy) was in superb voice, as were Elizabeth Campbell, Taryn Fiebig and Jorge Lopez-Yanez. And the ever reliable Kanen Breen contributed another of his comic vignettes.
But it was Emma Matthews’ night, yet again. She is fast becoming the brightest star on the local opera scene for many a long year and long may she remain on our national company’s list.
Don’t miss it.