Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
Midnight Son, Victorian Opera, May 16, 2012, ***1/2
by Gordon Kerry, Libretto by Louis Nowra, by Victorian Opera
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse,
May 16 to 23, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Byron Watson & Antoinette Halloran in Midnight Son, pic by Jeff Busby
IF YOU THINK THAT OPERAS ARE ALL CORSETS, consumption, Parisian garrets or Italianate palazzos, think
again. Midnight Son is a contemporary, Australian opera set in the Melbourne
suburbs and inspired by the real events of Maria Korp’s murder that shocked the
Although some may
consider as tasteless using this story as entertainment, Louis Nowra’s crisp,
concise, black and satirical libretto (sung in English with surtitles) and
Gordon Kerry’s evocative music explore the murky world of a love triangle that
triggers obsessive passion, manipulation, loss of control and murder. Sound
like an Italian opera now? Or perhaps a soap opera?
Handsome baritone, Byron Watson,
sings with conviction and rich tones, the role of arrogant, demanding,
promiscuous but charismatic Ray Clark, whose wife, Marisa, (Antoinette Halloran)
is strangled and whose lover, Clara, (Dimity Shepherd) is jailed for her
This confronting story
unfolds in reverse through Ray’s memories and we witness how his life spirals
into catastrophe from end to beginning.
score, employing multiple styles and musical allusions, is conducted deftly by Ollivier-Philippe
Cunéo and played with fervour by Orchestra Victoria.
Nicki Wendt’s acting
direction focuses the singers on their
characters, relationships, emotions and psychology.
Halloran’s bright soprano
captures a vibrating sense of doom and vulnerability while Watson’s resonant
baritone brings gravitas to the role of Ray.
brings vocal warmth and colour to the role of Clara, the sassy, manipulated,
but murderous lover.
Our discomfort is
heightened because the original event occurred in the streets of Melbourne so
our senses vibrate with the immediacy of the characters and story.
The shock of ordinary
people hurtling into chaos is sharpened when set against a backdrop of a real,
suburban rolladoor, a small sedan, a barbecue and a bright orange rope noose
hanging over Ray’s head.
Louis Nowra loves a collision between the grotesque and the comical and Midnight Son peers into a
disturbing world of murder and mayhem that is vividly coloured by grim satire,
contemporary music and a naturalistic story and lyrics.
By Kate Herbert
Set design: Andrew Bellchambers Costume: Esther Marie Hayes Lighting: Nigel