Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd part of WA Opera’s killer 2019 season

Ben Mingay in Sweeney Todd.
Ben Mingay in Sweeney Todd.

OPERA is the most simple thing you can imagine, the power of the amplified human voice telling stories.

This was the sentiment shared by WA Opera artistic director Brad Cohen as he spoke at His Majesty’s Theatre about the company’s 2019 season.

The cornerstones of next year’s program are La Traviata (February) for Opera in the Park at Supreme Court Gardens, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (July) with Ben Mingay as the demon barber of Fleet Street and Verdi’s Macbeth (October) featuring Perth’s very own James Clayton in the title role.

The company is also co-presenting The Magic Flute (February) with Perth Festival, directed by Australian Barrie Kosky, inspired by Berlin cinema of the 1920s and bringing mixed media to the experience.

“In terms of newness for this coming year, La Traviata has never been done in the park before,” Cohen said.

The Magic Flute is a significant new production never seen in Perth before, Sweeney Todd is a composer never done by the company before and Macbeth is a major work by a major opera composer never done by the company before.

“For us, it’s about infusing a newness in to the fabric of what we are doing, whether that is a new production of an existing piece, a new piece altogether or unknown pieces by major composers.”

Cohen said his responsibility at WA Opera was about more than inviting audiences to step through the His Majesty’s Theatre portal and enjoy beautiful shows.

“It’s essential for the sustainability of this art form that audiences are constantly brought up to not view opera as something inaccessible or elitist because it’s not,” he said.

“The purpose of this company is to provide opera to the state of WA and everything we can do to empower people’s understanding of the art form is to not let them feel they are not worthy.

“I believe our brief is to entertain, inform and advance the understanding of opera, which is not always expressed in box office, although we do want box office.”

WA Opera will continue its community and educational programs including adult singing classes, school performances and taking opera to the regions with iconic opera tunes in iconic WA locations.

The 2019 program is at www.waopera.asn.au.