WA Opera announces 2020 season for modern-day audience

Bran Nue Dae.
Bran Nue Dae.

WA Opera music director Chris van Tuinen started at the company in January with a blank slate and desire to develop the 2020 season for a modern-day opera audience.

“Opera is the greatest of collaborative art forms,” van Tuinen said.

“If you like visual art you should like opera, if you like costuming you should like opera, if you like text or music you should be in to opera.

“I firmly believe that whatever your age, experience or interests, that you should find a home in the art form,” van Tuinen said.

“So with that in mind, we’ve reached out through a whole bunch of different projects and activities for the season.”

The year begins in February with iconic WA story Bran Nue Dae at Regal Theatre, which first premiered in the early 1980s, giving birth to Black Swan State Theatre Company.

It has a strong Indigenous voice across the creative team, with Ernie Dingo leading the cast in the re-staging of Jimmy Chi’s coming-of-age musical.

The 27-year tradition of free Opera in the Park continues with Hansel and Gretel at Supreme Court Gardens on February 22, while the company next teams up with WASO and Perth Festival for Fidelio at Perth Concert Hall.

Star Navigator’s Tim Finn. Photo: Sean Finney.

Spilt Enz singer and musician Tim Finn has been commissioned as composer and lyricist for Star Navigator, a concert presentation inspired by the story of James Cook and Tahitian star navigator Tupaia.

“Humans have always sung stories,” Finn said.

“It’s not about first contact or colonisation, English versus Tahitian, it was just a human story and the music is there to transcend.”

Next on the program is Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah at Winthrop Hall in May before July’s double Italian bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci at His Majesty’s Theatre.

Staying at His Majesty’s for the rest of the season, October’s The Nightingale is an opera for young people, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, and a collaboration with Co:3 Australian, WA Youth Orchestra, WA Youth Theatre Company and WA Young Voices.

Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte finishes the year.

Van Tuinen said he would love people to become WA Opera patrons whatever way they choose.

“There are all these different touch points for the opera company,” he said.

“Maybe they buy a ticket to Bran Nue Dae and Star Navigator or come to Opera in the Park and then see opera for young people.

“Maybe they never come into His Majesty’s Theatre and listen to something sung in Italian, but they are still part of our opera audience.”

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