Canberra Symphony Orchestra's Opera Gala 2017

8 July 2017

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s International Opera Gala was a triumph, thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, the international stars and the orchestra.

Full of personality, precision and the right amount of fun in a diverse program instigated and brought to fruition by Artistic Director of the CSO, Nicholas Milton, the planning for this Opera Gala began a couple of years ago.

 With one of his ‘other jobs’ as General Musical Director and Chief Conductor at the State Opera House in Saarbrucken Germany where surrounded by a formidable troupe of international opera stars and an invitation by our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to join his wife Lucy Turnbull on an Australian- Germany Advisory Group in 2015 to promote bi-lateral cultural partnerships, the seeds were sown for Milton to instigate a perfect partnership and bring a group of his stars to Canberra for the 2017 Opera Gala.   

 The stars were indeed an international mix with baritone Olafur Sigurdarson and soprano Herdis Anna Jonasdottir from Iceland, soprano Susanne Braunsteffer and mezzosoprano Judith Brauun from Germany, basso profundo Hiroshi Matsui from Japan and tenor Carlos Moreno Pelizari from Chile. They all gathered with invited guests for the beginning of a much anticipated performance in the gala, with some diplomacy at the Embassy of Germany. A morning tea to meet and greet the stars, enjoy performances to show their extraordinary talents with Milton in his inimitable manner introducing and accompanying them, divulging a few personal insights - Carlos and Herdis purportedly getting the most fan mail - though not as much as Milton, and all hoping to see a kangaroo.  

Before their final rehearsal and press call, they did meet kangaroos, enjoyed a quick circuit of the city sights and took advantage of the hospitality at their digs at Hotel Hotel.

The Saturday night performance was everything we expected and more. Familiar operas, wonderful arias, delightful duets and a formidable array of memorable moments in a diverse program.

 Herdis Anna Jonasdottir tiptoeing barefooted down the theatre singing Rosetta’s Song from Leonce und Lena by Paul Dessau, “my poor tired feet, you have to dance” and Susanne Braunstaffer and Judith Braun closing the first half with the Evening Prayer of Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck was sublime. But the toreador song from Bizet’s Carmen with these six wonderful singers was a most fitting and glorious finale.

A night full of the sheer joy of music, glorious voices and so much tangiblepersonality, with congratulations to all who made it a success.