21 Mar 2010

This content is tagged as Theatre .


Englishmen give opera a creative new look

“[Aidan Lang] has that rare skill of being able to put in jokes and stage business without ever getting in the way of the music.” (Guardian, UK – July 2001)

Prior to his stewardship of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Aidan Lang was a highly respected and creative director on the international opera stage, with considerable experience accrued at companies such as Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Opera Zuid and Buxton Festival.

After four years in New Zealand, Lang is turning his hand to directing again, with the Company’s new production of Mozart’s much loved opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

To ensure his New Zealand directing debut is an unforgettable experience for audiences, Lang has teamed up with equally creative designer, and fellow Englishman, Robin Rawstorne, to present what they believe to be a first for New Zealand, possibly even the world.

“Of course I can’t go into specific details as that would spoil the surprise for opening night,” says Lang. “Suffice to say, a new production always offers some degree of artistic licence, so we’re aiming to give audiences an entertaining and memorable night out with possibly [in reference to the extraordinary and technically complicated 15 scene changes which will give a slightly cinematic ever-shifting perspective on the action] some foyer chat along the lines of ‘how did they do that and make it look so easy?’. The Marriage of Figaro was in fact the first professional opera production I ever saw. It was at Covent Garden with Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess. I had just turned 13 and it got me hooked for life. While this production will be very different, it would be wonderful to think it could have the profound effect on people that that one had on me.”

Lang adds: “Figaro is high farce, but it is also a very hard-edged piece and we’ll be trying to reflect that in the production.”

As The Times reported after Lang staged the complete Ring Cycle in Manaus in the Amazon, “In the end, and despite a hideously small budget, the thing went off in style.” Expect a similar result with The Marriage of Figaro.

Bringing the principal roles to life are New Zealand bass Wade Kernot and Australian soprano Emma Pearson, singing Figaro and Susanna, with celebrated Italian soprano Nuccia Focile in the role of the Countess. Renowned opera and orchestral conductor Lionel Friend takes the baton.

The Marriage of Figaro

Opera in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, after Beaumarchais

Sung in Italian with English surtitles


Conductor Lionel Friend

Director Aidan Lang

Set Designer Robin Rawstorne

Costume Designer Elizabeth Whiting

Lighting Designer David Eversfield


Figaro Wade Kernot

Susanna Emma Pearson

Count Almaviva Riccardo Novaro

Countess Almaviva Nuccia Focile

Cherubino Wendy Dawn Thompson

Doctor Bartolo Gennadi Dubinsky

Marcellina Helen Medlyn

Don Basilio Richard Greager

Antonio Richard Green

Don Curzio Derek Hill+

Barbarina Alexandra Ioan*

With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus

Accompanied by the Vector Wellington Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

* PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist / + NBR New Zealand Opera Resident Artist

The Marriage of Figaro

Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 15, Thu 20, Sat 22 May (7.30pm), Tue 18 May (6pm)

Auckland – Aotea Centre, THE EDGE

Thu 3, Sat 5, Wed 9, Fri 11 June (7.30pm), Sun 13 June (2.30pm)

Single Ticket Prices $49.50 to $187.50. Concessions available for senior citizens, students and group bookings. Service fees apply.

Bookings: The NBR NZ Opera Box Office, Tel (09) 379 4068 or (04) 499 8343, or:

Wellington: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or www.ticketek.co.nz

Auckland: The Edge, Tel 0800 BUYTICKETS (0800 289 842) or www.the-edge.co.nz

Further information at www.nzopera.com

The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand