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 January 2013
Sleeping Beauty, Victorian Opera, Jan 17, 2013 ****
& Libretto by Richard Gill, Victorian Opera Her
Majesty’s Theatre, Jan 17 to 19, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:****
Version of this review published in Herald Sun on line (Jan 18) then in print. KH
L-R: Olivia Cranwell as Queen Clementine, James Payne as King Florestan and Dimity Shepard as Dargonelle
Recipe for children’s
opera: take one fairy tale, several opera singers, ballet dancers and fairies,
then mix with orchestra, singable tunes, rhymes, pantomime and audience
Richard Gill’s Sleeping
Beauty, with Derek Taylor’s direction, has all the ingredients for an enjoyable
children’s musical, with the added element of exposing little ones to opera at
their own level.
Before we embark on the
fairy tale, narrators Darcy the Jester (Jonathan Bode) and Fairy Godmother
Ticketty-Boo (Suzanne Johnston), introduce the show with singalongs, jokes and
even bring some lucky children on stage to accompany the overture with
The children love the
tomfoolery of Bode and Johnston and their chorus of Jumping Jollies, four
playful singer-dancers who help to tell the tale.
The story of the sleeping
princess (Lotte Betts-Dean) and her heroic prince (Daniel Todd) is told through
simple, rhyming dialogue and cheerful, eclectic music, songs and dance.
The children hear arias,
duets, multi-part harmonies and choruses sung by professionals that not only
entertain and engage, but also educate them about opera.
The evocative design
(Julie Nelson) and lighting (Richard Vabre) conjure a magical world of castles,
towers and forests and the vivid costumes are impressive, especially the pink
and green, high-gelati colours of Ticketty-Boo’s gown.
It is a gift to hear
Johnston’s rich, expressive voice that usually features in major operas, and
the skilful cast ably supports her.
Betts-Dean has a bright,
fine soprano and Todd’s tenor is powerful and clear, while Dimity Shepherd,
another stalwart of Australia’s opera stage, is passionate and compelling as
wicked fairy, Dragonelle.
Little ballet dancers
will be delighted to see young ballerinas playing the fairy chorus that brings
gifts to the baby princess.
Such exposure to opera
and theatre provides children with an introduction to the art forms that will
hopefully lead them to a whole new future of live entertainment.
By Kate Herbert
Lotte Betts-Dean as Princess Aurora & Jollys (Jack Feehan, Mark Morabito, Laura O’Sullivan, Camille Wai)
L-R: Suzanne Johnston as Ticketty-Boo, Lotte Betts-Dean as Princess Aurora and Daniel Todd as Prince Waldheim