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Opera in the Park: Gianni Schicchi

CAROL FLAVELL NEST, 8 FEBRUARY

Opera in the Park has become a much-loved institution in Perth. For two decades and more, the WA Opera Company has teamed with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra to come up with an event that is eagerly awaited and keenly supported. Whole families come with picnic fare, and it is amazing to realise that children, even those under five, are spellbound by the happenings on stage – or, more likely, on one of the two huge screens that allow the enormous assemblage to see what’s happening from many metres away. What’s more, the event is telecast throughout the state, and finds a ready audience.

This year’s choice of opera was a stroke of genius. Short, funny and full of lovely music, Gianni Schicchi kept the audience spellbound and laughing for an hour of brilliant entertainment. Mind you, I wish they hadn’t played a recording of O mio babino caro over and over again for nearly two solid hours before the show started.

But once the show did get underway, everyone was spellbound. Not only was the music beautifully performed, the characters were brilliantly portrayed. This little opera not only sports an entertaining plot about a forged will, but also a charming little subplot dealing with the romance of Rinuccio (Virgilio Marino) a relative of the deceased landowner Buoso Donati, and Lauretta (Kiandra Howarth) daughter of the wily Gianni Schicchi (Douglas McNicol). These three carry the plot along, with essential input from a team of other clearly-delineated characters. (Fiona Campbell as the domineering Zita was a hoot!) And all of them can sing like angels.

Who wouldn’t sing like an angel when backed by the wonderful WASO, under the baton of Brad Cohen, the opera company’s Artistic Director? Still a young man, Cohen has conducted orchestras worldwide. Opera is his metier, and he was obviously very much at home with Gianni Schicchi. Signor Puccini would surely have been proud to see such a well-produced and realised interpretation of his work.

The cleverly designed set enabled us to see into Donati’s bedroom and dining room while allowing easy entrances and exits. Sound was excellent. In fact, there is little I can say about this production that does not require superlatives, emojis and a lot of hand waving. Viva l’opera!

I really must stop seeing so many good shows, or my rep as a tough reviewer will be in tatters. Another one for five stars out of five!

Rating: 5 stars

 

Opera in the Park for the City of Perth

On Saturday 6 February 2016 over 20,000 people including audiences at Langley Park and those viewing a live simulcast in Northbridge Piazza, 12 regional locations as well as dozens of community resource centers across WA, enjoyed the much-loved institution of the West Australian Opera and City of Perth’s Opera in the Park.

Attendees were treated to a performance of Puccini’s comic opera Gianni Schicchi, accompanied by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. The short, funny and entertaining opera had the crowds spellbound, with a cleverly designed set, beautifully portrayed characters and stunning musical accompaniment.

The story of Gianni Schicchi follows the antics of the Donati family and the disruption of their greedy inheritance plans.   

Artistic Director Brad Cohen noted that Gianni Schicchi, Puccini’s last completed opera had not been performed by the West Australian Opera before.

“West Australian Opera highlights Australian artists, whether locally or internationally based, in our work. We aim to present to you the highest quality operatic work, performed wherever possible by the best Australian artists. I hope that the freshness of our offering will both delight and stimulate you: our audience and our reason for existing” said Brad Cohen.

With family entertainment beginning at 6pm, large screens featuring English subtitles to ensure a good viewing experience for all attendees and an engaging choice of opera, the 2016 Opera in the Park was extremely successful in reaching out to a diverse audience. Abbott & Co Printers, proud sponsors of the WA Opera strongly support events such as this, which positively contribute to changing Perth’s perception of, and engagement with arts and culture.