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Cityscape caught up with Kiwi opera legend Teddy Tahu Rhodes ahead of his picking up the straight razor as the Demon Barber in New Zealand Opera’s Sweeney Todd. Images: Jeff Busby. Tell us about the relationship between Sweeney and Mrs Lovett. It’s kind of a relationship where they need each other really. I think they are two people in this world that have different needs and they just cross each other’s paths; I think in time they get to become very fond of each other. I think throughout there is a genuine affection between to the two of them. What have you learnt about your character that you didn’t know before taking on the role? When you think of Sweeney you think of the Demon Barber, but he’s actually quite a tragic and sad man. He’s had a tragic life, so the story of his murderous side is just an...
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The New Zealand Opera returns to the Theatre Royal with another extremely impressive production in Verdi’s La traviata. Sheer audiovisual spectacle from the opening moments to the tragic finale, it’s a glittering night out in the suitably majestic surroundings of the Isaac Theatre Royal. The company continues to operate with what are probably the highest stage production values in the country. Opening in courtesan Violetta’s residence in Paris, the stage is essentially spare but festooned with a dazzling array of chandeliers and drapery and houses an enormous glass box that at turns becomes reflective or transparent through clever use of lighting, and impresses with its sheer towering size alone. Despite such a magnificent edifice and surroundings though, what dominates the stage is Madeline Pierard’s Violetta, dazzling in a red dress and very much the life of the party. Living a life of enjoyable if shallow glamour as a kept woman for...
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With NZ Opera already in town and rehearsing for the August 14th opening performance of La traviata at the Isaac Theatre Royal, Cityscape caught up with rising Kiwi opera star Andrew Glover – who's playing the role of Gastone in the production – ahead of what's sure to be a stellar season.   A look at your opera CV reveals you’ve played a wide number of roles already in your career. Do you have some personal favourites? I always feel that my favourite role is the one I am playing right now. That being said I enjoy the liberty you can take in a comic role, I love to dance if possible as I studied dance in my youth, and playing evil characters is wonderfully cathartic. I'm not sure that answers your question, though. Haha! You made your debut at London’s Royal Opera House earlier this year, called in as an emergency...
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The gilded interior of the restored Isaac Theatre Royal is an appropriate setting for the New Zealand Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly, Puccini’s sorrowful tale of a devoted Japanese woman, Butterfly, who chooses entirely the wrong man to fall in love with – caddish US naval officer Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. This tragic affair of the heart unfolds on a visually simple but truly striking set of Japanese screen doors that seamlessly slide, fly and adjust to form a puzzle-box like series of dazzling interiors and partitions. It’s magnificently lit throughout, and behind it all a layered backdrop of cherry trees is artistically vibrant enough that you’re in danger of having it distract you away from the actual show. Not for long though, because the lavishly-costumed international and national cast brings its A-game to the performance, led by Anne Sophie Duprels as Butterfly. The French star has played the role all...
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Having sought solace from Wednesday’s wintery chill within the magnificently-transformed CBS Arena – now bohemian Paris 2014 – no suspension of disbelief is required for the opening freezing flat scene of New Zealand Opera’s sublime production of La bohème. A fine bromance is underway as painter Marcello (Phillip Rhodes), philosopher Colline (Wade Kernot), musician Schaunard (Robert Tucker) and poet Rodolfo (Shaun Dixon) huddle around a barrel burning Rodolfo’s unpublished works in their living room, and razzing each other to keep warm. Cue entrance by the startlingly beautiful Mimi (Talise Trevigne) holding a key and a snuffed candle. So begins one of the greatest love stories ever sung. Director Patrick Nolan’s tender reimagining of Puccini’s classic tale takes the audience on a soaring journey of young love, despair and tragedy. Keeping the content socially relevant, yet faithful to tradition, Nolan beautifully integrates stellar, understated performances from his cast and an impassioned...
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Cityscape catches up with Anna Leese, who plays the role of fiery Donna Elvira in New Zealand Opera's production of Don Giovanni. When did you know that you wanted to be an opera singer? I knew I wanted to be a singer from age 10, I remember where I was standing when I decided I wanted to go to the Royal College of Music. But at that stage I was interested in a bizarre mix of church music and West End musicals: opera singing didn't come till later. What has been the most memorable moment in your opera career so far? I'd have to say my debut at Covent Garden, as Musetta in La bohème. A close second would be singing in my birth town, Napier, with José Carerras, at the stunning Elephant Hill winery. What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage? Definitely my first solo at Otago Uni...