WERTHER DRAME LYRIQUE IN FOUR ACTS
MUSIC BY JULES MASSENET LIBRETTO BY É. BLAU, P. MILLIET & G. HARTMANN Charlotte, aged 20
Sophie, her sister, aged 15
Werther, a young poet, aged 23 Albert, betrothed to Charlotte; aged 25
Allegra Giagu Erin Towns April Foster Adelaide Greenaway Patrick MacDevitt Finn Gilheany
Le Bailli, Charlotte's father; aged 50
Schmidt, a friend of the Bailli
Johann, a friend of the Bailli
Josh Erdelyi-Gotz Kate Millett
Sung in French with English surtitles The performance lasts approximately 2 ¼ hours including one 20 minute interval.
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I am not entirely convinced by the interpretation of Werther as a story about a person 'dying for love'- the music is written by a composer who, in my opinion, understood depression. Whether it is set in 1780s Germany of 1950s Britain, both of these societies- and the society Jules Massenet lived in- did not recognise depression as a real disease. The music reflects this- the blank nature of 'Pourquoi trembler devant la mort' (why shiver before death) and the anxiety ridden 'J'aurais sur ma poitrine' (I would have pressed on my breast the most divine creature).
It is possible that Massenet was trying to say that he had it.
BK Opera would like to thank the generosity of our sponsors: Maestro Patron HENKELL BROTHERS Tenor Patron PREMIUM FINANCE (WA) PTY LTD JULIE SIEDSES Ensemble Patron ADELAIDE GREENAWAY Special thanks to LYRIC OPERA OF MELBOURNE for the use of their translation.
I wanted to show why Charlotte stayed, why she chooses Albert over Werther. I wanted to show that she is tempted, give her a strong sense of her own sexuality. I also, however, wanted to show that she is kept stable, she is kept grounded through her relationship with Albert—that they heal and support each other. I feel the taking of one’s own life isn’t a rash decision and wanted to reflect that in my interpretation. I feel Werther may have made the same choice even with Charlotte by his side, that it was a deeper illness than just longing.
KATE MILLETT: DIRECTOR Kate Millett is a multifaceted artist working as a theatre and opera director, arts producer, writer, dramaturg and performer. She has studied drama and performance at the University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University. Inspired by the opera scenes developing in New York and Berlin, Kate is bringing her black-box theatre mentality to opera, focusing on the emotionality of the singers, and bringing a visceral reality to this artform. Working in Perth and Melbourne, her passion lies in the junction between performer and audience, and how they connect to each other.
JAMES PENN: CONDUCTOR James Penn is an up-and-coming conductor, who began his musical training as a choirboy at All Saints church, St Kilda east. He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from Victorian College of the Arts, and a Graduate Diploma in Music from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. James has conducted both choral and church music for over ten years and is passionate about the inherent confrontation at the heart of all great opera. Having toured internationally, singing in the great European cathedrals and concert halls, he brings this experience to his work, focusing on bringing a European refinement to the Australian opera scene.
PAM CHRISTIE: REPETITEUR Since completing her music studies at Melbourne University and Moscow Conservatory, Pam has worked for many years as an accompanist in and around Melbourne. She is a repetiteur for the Opera Australia Schools Company and Opera Studio/Gertrude Opera, and also fulfils numerous performance and production commitments as a freelance pianist, coach and musical director. Recent engagements include Rossini’s ‘Cinderella’ and Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’ for OA; musical director of ‘Trial by Jury’ and ‘The Zoo’ for GSOV; a concert tour of China accompanying the Melbourne Bach Choir and soloists in a programme of opera highlights; and a number of performances at the outstandingly successful Nagambie Lakes Opera Festival.
PATRICK MACDEVITT: WERTHER Hailing from the United States, Patrick MacDevitt (tenor) is currently pursuing his PhD in Voice Performance and Musicology at the University of Melbourne, where he is a student of Stephen Grant. Recently, Patrick participated in productions with BK Opera, Melbourne Lyric Opera, Nagambie Lakes Opera Festival and with the Preston Symphony and Victoria Chorale. In the US, Patrick performed several contemporary opera roles in Thompson Street Opera's maiden season in Louisville Kentucky. Among other operatic appearances, Patrick played the title role in Rameau's Pygmalion with Melbourne Lyric and Britten's Prodigal Son with Kentucky Opera
ALLEGRA GIAGU: CHARLOTTE Born in Australia, Allegra Giagu, made her Sydney Opera House début aged eleven, training with Opera Australia, the Sydney Children's Choir and Gondwana Voices. She soon made débuts with Sydney Symphony and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, before The Edinburgh Military Tattoo led her abroad, where she studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music. Allegra has sung for Aldeburgh Festival (Britten-Pears); Edinburgh Festival (EdFringe); Oxford Lieder Festival and other notable festivals across Europe. She can be heard on the Oscar-Nominated Anna Karenina film soundtrack, and has appeared on London’s West End, in The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Stage (UK). In Melbourne, she is an Associate Artist (Henkell Family Fund) with Gertrude Opera.
ERIN TOWNS: CHARLOTTE Mezzo soprano Erin Towns has a Bachelor of Arts/Music (Honours) from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma of Education from ACU. She has previously performed in productions of the Gondoliers (Tessa) with the GSOV and Pirates of Penzance (Kate) with the Savoy Opera Company. Erin is a current member of the Melbourne Opera Chorus, appearing in their productions of Anna Bolena and Tannhauser. She has been a soloist with the Stonnington City Brass, ACU Chamber Choir as well as appearing in season 3 of 3MBS’s “The Talent” series.
FINN GILHEANY: ALBERT Originally from Melbourne Finn Gilheany moved to study at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). Achieving his Bachelor of Music (classical voice) in 2015. Finn has been a chorus member and combat choreographer with Melbourne Opera since 2016, is an original artist with BK Opera, is a current choral scholar at St. John’s Church Toorak and is a part of the Opera Scholars Australia program. Finn has performed Escamillo in Carmen, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Theseus from Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Amos Heart in Chicago, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, and this year he solo debuted with Melbourne Opera as the Boatswain in HMS Pinafore.
APRIL FOSTER: SOPHIE April is a coloratura soprano who completed her Bachelor of Music at The University of Melbourne. Last year, she was the Spirit in Dido and Æneas with XL Arts, and Frasquita in Carmen with BK Opera. In 2015, she covered the Turnspit in Rusalka with XL Arts, and won the Grand Aria and Aggregate Award in Geelong Eisteddfod. In 2014 April was Carlotta in Ballarat Lyric Theatre’s The Phantom of the Opera and received a commendation from the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria. April is currently performing Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman with Savoy Opera Company and is the recipient of the Henkell Scholarship with the Melbourne Bach Choir..
ADELAIDE GREENAWAY: SOPHIE Adelaide is a classically trained soprano and has enjoyed performing here in Melbourne over the past few years. Adelaide played the role of Mercedes in BK Opera’s debut of Carmen in 2016 and is excited to be a part of the 2017 season. Adelaide has previously performed the role of Rita in GSOV's The Contrabandista and has been a part of the ensembles of Cavalleria Rusticana and Patience in 2015 and Gondoliers in 2016 as well as a member of the MSO Chorus. When not singing opera, Adelaide enjoys performing folk and jazz with her classical guitar friend Rick as duo Zanthii Blue.
STEPHEN CAROLANE: SCHMIDT Stephen started singing in the Cathedral choir Wangaratta at the age of 8 and continued singing throughout his school years. At nineteen he trained full time in Dance at the ‘Regional Academy of Performing Arts’ in Wodonga. In 2015 he completed the Bachelor of Music at the ‘Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’ under the tutelage of Anna Connelly. He has performed in various roles in his time including Frederic in ‘Pirates of Penzance’, Dick Dauntless in ‘Ruddigor’ and, more recently ‘Le Remendado’ in BK Opera’s Carmen. Stephen is very much looking forward to performing as Schmidt in BK Opera’s production of ‘Werther’.
JOSH ERDYLI-GOTZ: JOHANN Joshua Erdelyi-Götz was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1994. Josh works predominantly in the medium of music, Voice being the main instrument. He also practices violin as a secondary instrument. Josh is completing his Honours Year in Classical Voice at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. During his years of study.. Josh has participated in two fully staged operas, Carmen and La Traviata, produced by ‘Opera New England,’ and played a principal character, Horemhab, in Philip Glass’s opera Akhnaten. He is a recipient of the Henkell Family Fellowship for Gertrude Opera and has been studying and performing with Gertrude Opera throughout 2016.
SAMUEL THOMAS-HOLLAND: LE BAILLI Baritone Samuel Thomas-Holland has studied at both WAAPA and the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. In 2015, he was awarded the Hans Henkell Young Artist Scholarship with Gertrude Opera. Later that year Samuel received a scholarship to attend the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School in Brisbane. In 2016 Samuel won the Encouragement Award in the Joan Sutherland Vocal Competition. He then went on to represent Australia in the Hans Gabor International Belvedere Singing Competition, held in Cape Town, South Africa. Later, he was invited to perform in Switzerland touring with the Opera Festival for Young Voices. He most recently performed as Conte di Luna (Trovatore).