Victorian Opera 2015 - I Puritani Programme

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I P U R I TA N I Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne 2 July 2015 1

WELCOME Victorian Opera has turned ten! Tonight your state opera company celebrates this special milestone with a rare concert performance showcasing the breathtaking artistry of bel canto. To everyone past and present who has come on this journey, our audience, our supporters, our artists, the State Government of Victoria, our Artistic Director Richard Mills, our Founding Music Director Richard Gill, our board and staff, we give our heartfelt thanks. In 2015, a brave new world of opera awaits. Join us and discover a local company that is redefining opera and helping to build its future. Find your world at



RICHARD MILLS problems in the progress of the piece – as Bellini writes in a letter: “He’s better than anyone else, but he is no Romani… and Romani is not easily found.” Nevertheless, Pepoli’s earlier military and political dealings would have provided direct experience of the cross currents of loyalties and civil strife that form the background to the period of the English civil war in which I Puritani is set. Wisely, however, Bellini chose to concentrate on the human drama of the war-torn protagonists and, in particular, the emotional trajectory of the heroine, Elvira and her star crossed lover Arturo. His art was to find the most apt and vocally perfect articulation for the inner lives of his characters in melodic paragraphs that are nothing short of miraculous in their cumulative structure as well as in their individual poetic felicities.

I Puritani was the work that gave Bellini his great success in Paris – where he arrived on the 20th of August 1833. For the next 18 months until the premiere of I Puritani at the Theátre-Italien in January 1835, he lived the experience of many of his French contemporaries, mingling in Parisian society and engaging in complex, frustrating and mostly unproductive negotiations with the Paris theatres, including Paris Opera. He also met Heine and, most importantly, Chopin, who became a close friend and whose work he influenced so greatly, in terms of both melody and formal dramaturgy.

As Rossini said after the first performance: “I’m delighted to be in a position to tell you that Bellini’s opera I Puritani, composed expressly for Paris, has just achieved a brilliant success… My prophecies, as you can see, are fulfilled, even to the extent that they are beyond what I had hoped for…” This is an opera for virtuoso singers: the first I Puritani quartet was Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini and La blanche – the leading singers of their day. Therefore, it is appropriate that we welcome Jessica Pratt and Celso Albelo – two of the current leading bel canto singers of the world to join us for this performance. Enjoy.

His librettist, Count Carlo Pepoli, was no Romani, Bellini’s librettist for Norma, despite his stature as the most accomplished Italian librettist in Paris at the time. Pepoli was an expatriate, banished from Italy for his participation in the provisional revolutionary government of 1831. His theatrical fluency or lack of it was a problem in his creative relationship with Bellini and created constant

Richard Mills Artistic Director & Conductor 3


ANDREW SNELL As a company, we are proud of our ongoing work nurturing the next generation of opera performers and tonight you will hear three of our Master of Music (Opera Performance) students in principal roles; two alumni of the first intake, Carlos E. Bárcenas and Jeremy Kleeman and a current student, Nathan Lay. Auditions are currently underway for the next intake of this program; the National Graduate Opera Program, delivered as a collaboration between Victorian Opera and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. This unique program allows us to nurture the brightest young operatic talent in Australia and we are incredibly proud to offer it here in Victoria. The current students will also appear prominently in our upcoming Hamer Hall presentations, Remembrance – our ANZAC tribute and Seven Deadly Sins – featuring new work by some of Australia’s brightest young composers.

On behalf of all of us at Victorian Opera, I would like to welcome you to I Puritani, and acknowledge The Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria and His Honour Judge Howard. This evening’s concert marks The Governor’s first production as our new Patron in Chief following her recent inauguration as Governor of Victoria.

I Puritani also marks the first of four presentations this year with Orchestra Victoria, our performance partner and an important part of the Victorian Opera story. Following I Puritani, they return to us for Sweeney Todd; the final instalment in our Sondheim trilogy, Remembrance and Seven Deadly Sins. We are very proud of our ongoing association with this vital Victorian organisation.

The evening’s performance also marks our return to the music of Bellini following our acclaimed sell-out presentation of Norma. Tonight, we welcome back internationally renowned Australian coloratura soprano Jessica Pratt. This incredible young singer received great acclaim for her Australian stage and role debut as Violetta Valéry in our 2014 production of Verdi’s La traviata. In her only Australian performance in 2015, Jessica will perform a role which has cemented her as one the most in-demand bel canto singers in Europe. We are also proud to welcome Celso Albelo; considered one of the world’s finest bel canto tenors and one of the few performers fully equipped to perform such vocally demanding repertoire.

We hope you enjoy tonight’s performance; a true reflection of our commitment to diverse repertoire, developing young talent and making an important contribution to the creative landscape of this wonderful art-form called opera. Andrew Snell Managing Director 4

THANK YOU To those that so generously donated to our annual giving campaign – you have made our wishes possible. Salwa Abdel-Aziz • Bill Abud • Peter Allan • Valma Allaway • David Anderson • Helen & David Blackwell • Luca & Ira Brazil • Jane Brownfield • Margaret Brumley • Ben Chodziesner • Mary David • Mary Davidson • Ernest Dawes OBE & Nola Dawes • Joan Fowles • Dennis Freeman • Phil Gear • Jenny George & Matthew Williams • Jeremy Grant • Prue Griffiths • Alan Hawke • Victoria Hayes • Leonie Henshilwood • Susan Humphies • Dr Irene Irvine • Inge Johnston • Angela Kayser • Irene Kearsey & MJ Ridley • Jane Kunstler • Lynne Landy • Marion Lustig • Lorraine Meldrum • Ian Merrylees • Ruth Muir • Sarah Musgrave • Levi Orenstein • Jillian Pappas • Greg Payne • John Perry • Margaret Plant • John & Marion Poynter • Merlyn Quiafe AM • Valerie Rae • Gregory Reinhardt • Ralph Renard • Dr Nigel Simpson • Lady Southey AC • Prof Elsdon & Mrs Christine Storey • Sandy Storey-Wilson • Stephen Stuart • Hugh & Liz Taylor • Caroline Vaillant • Robert & Marieke van de Graaff • Megan Walton • Ethel White • Damian Young • Anonymous (47)

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I PURITANI Creative Team

2 July 2015 Arts Centre Melbourne Hamer Hall

Conductor Richard Mills Chorus Music Preparation Richard Mills

Composer Vincenzo Bellini Librettist Count Carlo Pepoli Running time approximately 3 hours including one 20 minute interval.

Repetiteurs Phillipa Safey and Simon Bruckard Deputy Production Manager Luke Hales Lighting Designer Peter Darby Cast Lord Arturo Talbot Celso Andres Albelo Hernandez Elvira Jessica Pratt Lord Gualtiero Valton Jeremy Kleeman Sir Giorgio Valton Paul Whelan Sir Ricardo Forth Nathan Lay Sir Bruno Robertson Carlos E. Bรกrcenas Enrichetta di Francia Tania Ferris


Bassi Davin Holt, Shelley Hogan, Matthew Thorne, Nic Synot

Chorus Soprano Kate Amos, Kirilie Blythman, Elizabeth Barrow, Emily Uhlrich, Fiona Jopson, Cristina Russo, Diana Simpson, Nicole Wallace

Flute Rebecca Johnston, Lorraine Bradbury Horns Jasen Moulton, Heather McMahon, Linda Hewett, Rob Shirley

Mezzo Margaret Arnold, Joanne Carroll, Kerrie Bolton, Rebecca Bywater, Elizabeth Lewis, Emma Muir-Smith, Anna Plotka, Belinda Prakhoff

Timpani Guy du Blet Oboe Joshua de Graaf, Dafydd Camp

Tenor Jonathan Bam, Irving Dekterev, Michael Edwards, Ernst Ens, Alister Lamont, Michael Lapina, Trevor Maitland, Michael Petruccelli, Raphael Wong

Trumpet Anthony Pope, Mark Skillington Percussion Evan Pritchard, Dan Richardson, Steve Falk Clarinet Robin Henry, Andrew Mitchell

Bass Angus Grant, Paul Hughes, Robert Latham, Oliver Mann, Simon Meadows, Alex Pokvyshevsky, Matthew Thomas, Matthew Tng

Trombone Scott Evans, Richard Shirley, Ben Anderson Harp Delyth Stafford

Orchestra Victoria

Bassoon Lucinda Cran, Tim Murray

1st Violin Margaret Blades, Kate Sullivan, Rachel Gamer, Rachael Hunt, Ed Antonov, Rebecca Adler, Binny Baik, Alexandra Hiew, Sarah Coghlan, Mara Miller 2nd Violin Tomomi Brennan, Philip Nixon, Lisa Reynolds, Edwina Kasyer, Miranda Matheson, Lubino Fernandes, James Steendam, Matthew Hassall Viola Paul McMillan, Katie Yap, Jason Bunn, Raymond Hope, Nadine Delbridge, Suying Aw Celli Melissa Chominsky, Diane Froomes, Andrea Taylor, Zoe Wallace, Philippa Gardner, Sarah Cuming




SYNOPSIS Act II Arturo and his retinue enter the Hall and greet the Valton court; Valton promises him a safe-conduct after the marriage, and consigns Elvira to the care of Giorgio, as Valton must escort a female 'spy' to the Parliament. Arturo learns that she is Enrichetta di Francia, widow of Charles Stuart, whom the Parliament will certainly condemn to death. Elvira enters wearing her weddingveil; Arturo decides to use the safe-conduct to get Enrichetta away, disguised under the veil. Riccardo, happy to see him leave, swears not to reveal their flight. Elvira, thinking she is betrayed and abandoned, becomes unbalanced. The Puritans blame Arturo, who, Parliament decrees, must be executed.

Act I In a Puritan (Roundhead) fortress in Plymouth, the Governor, Lord Valton, has promised his daughter's hand to the Puritan Sir Riccardo, but Elvira loves a Stuart (Cavalier) partisan, Lord Arturo. Influenced by his brother, Sir Giorgio, to not force his daughter into marriage, Valton accepts Arturo as his future son-in-law. Riccardo expresses his bitterness to his friend Sir Bruno.

Act III Moved by Elvira's unravelling, Giorgio urges Riccardo to save Arturo, but cannot persuade him. Arturo returns by night and explains the true situation to Elvira. She almost recovers herself, and Arturo tries to persuade her to flee with him. Puritans and guards rush in and recognise Arturo. Their shouts as they constrain him clear Elvira's mind; she and Arturo are sadly farewelling each other when a messenger announces the rout of the Stuarts and proclamation of an amnesty. Arturo and Elvira embrace joyfully.


Image credit: Š Pietro Paolini/Terra Project/Contrasto.



PROGRAM NOTES opera-houses was simply a way of life. Wonderfully, he got straight into La Scala, and found himself paired with the best of its librettists, Felice Romani, in a partnership which, with the exception of I Puritani, allowed each of them to play to the other's strength. They shared a romantic sensibility favorable to bel canto, a style in which story and setting bow to melody and internal drama. It was the kind of opera the public adored. Bellini was the senior partner for the simple reason that librettists were paid far less than composers. Romani had to take on other commissions, often working in haste to match word and plot to the melody and orchestration that Bellini had more time to perfect. It was nevertheless a close and fruitful collaboration, so successful in fact that Bellini was soon turning down offers from opera companies in Turin, Naples and Venice. However, he stayed with La Scala, and Romani, long enough to write major works such as La Straniera and Norma.

If, during the 1820s, you saw Vincenzo Bellini coming out of an opera-house in Naples or Milan and didn't know that he was a composer, you might mistake him for a stage-hero. Tall, blue-eyed and graceful, he cut a dandyish figure in the elegant clothes on which he spent most of his money.

His fame even attracted the attention of the Paris Opera. Bellini was seriously tempted, but had already committed to a work for La Fenice in Venice. Using an existing libretto of Romani's, he quickly delivered I Capuleti e i Montecchi – another spectacular triumph that prompted him to write to an uncle: 'Now I can say that my style of writing has been accepted with fantastic success by the principal theatres of the world, which were and are the San Carlo, La Scala and La Fenice.'

Nor, with that colouring, would you guess his Sicilian origins: he was born in Catania, to musical parents and grandparents. In time the family lost their promising boy to Naples, which now surpassed Venice as the hub of Italian music. Choosing opera as his main study, Bellini graduated among the top students at the Conservatorium and was invited to work alongside the resident composer at the Teatro San Carlo, Gioachino Rossini. In 1827, when he was twenty-five, Bellini moved on to Milan, where attending performances at one of the city's several

However, nothing comes without a price. Bellini had been writing for fourteen hours a day throughout the long Venetian winter,


Pepoli briskly reduced Bellini's 39 scenes, the size of the cast, and even some names with unsingable syllables. Meanwhile, in the quiet suburban village of Puteaux just outside Paris, Bellini worked on the music, though without his usual energy. The sickness had returned.

ignoring noxious cold and damp. When he went back to Milan he was ill, a bilious, inflammatory fever masking the amoebic infection that would allow him only five more years of life. For the first time he began to wonder whether he should marry. 'My plan is as follows,' he wrote to a friend. 'By contracting a union with a young girl who by her dowry will place me in a certain state of independence, I could live in Paris and compose for the Grand Opera and the ThéâtreItalien...' Perhaps it was just as well that he knew himself to be wedded to his career.

The opera premièred on January 24, 1835; Giulia Grisi (Elvira) 'sang and acted like an angel', recorded the composer, ecstatic at the tumultuous applause accompanying the numerous curtain-calls. But eight months later, at Puteaux, the beautiful and brilliant Bellini died. He was thirty-three.

He decided nevertheless to probe the tentative enquiries of the Paris Opera by spending two or three weeks in the City of Light. Arriving in August 1833, he stayed on for several months, gratified that his earlier works, I Pirati and I Capuleti e I Montecchi, were being performed at the Théâtre-Italien, but also confessing that he found 'many attractions' in Paris.

© Judith Armstrong

When at the beginning of 1834 the ThéâtreItalien offered a contract for a new work, he accepted because 'the pay was richer than what I had received in Italy up to then, though only by a little; then because of so magnificent a company; and finally so as to remain in Paris at someone else's expense.' But he also had to find both a new subject and a local librettist. By April he was telling an uncle that he had chosen a story set during the time of 'Cronvello' and the English civil war. (A play on the same theme, titled Têtes Rondes et Cavaliers, had recently been performed in Paris.) Bellini had even drafted a scenario for the Italian he'd chosen as his librettist, a Count Pepoli, now living in Paris. Though inexperienced,




RICHARD MILLS Conductor Richard Mills is one of Australia’s most prolific and internationally recognised composers. He pursues a diverse career as a composer, conductor and artistic director. He has held numerous prestigious posts, and received many scholarships, fellowships and awards including an AM, in 1999. He is currently Artistic Director of Victorian Opera, was Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera 1997 - 2012, Director of the Australian Music Project for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra 2002 - 2008 and Musica Viva’s Composer of the Year in 2008. Richard regularly conducts the leading orchestras and opera companies of Australia and has an extensive discography of orchestral works including his own compositions.

CELSO ANDRES ALBELO HERNANDEZ Lord Arturo Talbot Born in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, in 2006 he moved into the highest echelons of the international opera scene after his successful Duque de Mantua in Rigoletto in Busseto. From then on he has been invited to perform by La Scala in Milan, the ROH in London, the Opéra National de Paris, Tokyo Opera House, the Fenice in Venice, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Savonlinna Opera Festival, and the Guangzhou Opera House in Guangzhou, China, (where he was appointed Honorary Artistic Advisor) in operas such as I Puritani, La Fille du régiment, Roberto Devereux, Anna Bolena, Lucia di Lammermoor, Guillaume Tell, L'elisir d'amore, Rigoletto, Les pêcheurs de perles. 12

JESSICA PRATT Elvira Jessica Pratt gave her operatic debut in 2007 in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor and has established herself ever since as one of the finest and most sought-after interpreters of the Bel Canto repertoire. Opera companies and festivals she has performed with include La Scala, Covent Garden, Opera Zurich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Maestranza Seville, La Fenice Venice, San Carlo Naples, the festivals in Pesaro, Garsington, Caramoor New York, Lima, Rome (Caracalla) and Parma (Verdi Festival). Among her many recordings: La Sonnambula, Viva la mamma, Adelaide di Borgogna, Ciro in Babilonia, Otello, La sposa di Messina and the New Year's Gala from Venice.

JEREMY KLEEMAN Lord Gualtiero Valton

PAUL WHELAN Sir Giorgio Valton

NATHAN LAY Sir Ricardo Forth

A graduate of Victorian Opera and Melbourne Conservatorium's Masters of Opera, Jeremy Kleeman is beginning to establish himself as one of Australia's leading young baritones. Recently, Jeremy made a successful debut in the Brisbane Baroque Festival as Teobaldo in Faramondo. In 2014, Jeremy won the Welsh Male Choir Singer of the Year, and performed Marchese d'Obigny in La traviata and Rapunzel's Prince in Into the Woods for Victorian Opera. In 2013, Jeremy portrayed Albert the Pudding to critical acclaim in the award winning world premiere of The Magic Pudding – the opera. Jeremy is supported by the Joseph Sambrook Opera Scholarship with the Melba Opera Trust.

New Zealand born Paul Whelan has performed at opera houses including Covent Garden, Netherlands Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Munich State Opera, and Scottish Opera. Recent performances include Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), his debut as Giorgio (I Puritani) with Boston Lyric Opera, Daland (The Flying Dutchman) in NZ and Hawaii, and Banco (Macbeth) with Opera North. Further highlights include several roles at Glyndebourne including Claggart (Billy Budd), Alidoro (La Cenerentola) and Seneca (L’Incoronazione di Poppea) – also in Lille and Dijon; Ramfis (Aida) with Opera Australia; Theseus (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with ENO and his debut as Wotan (Das Rheingold) with Auckland Philharmonic.

Since graduating from the Melba Conservatorium of Music, Nathan has established his career in the Melbourne opera scene. Nathan has won the National Liederfest, Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria, and placed 3rd in the Herald Sun Aria. He has performed with Opera Australia (A Masked Ball, Aida, Falstaff, Tosca), Melbourne Opera (‘Schaunard’ - La Boheme, ‘Guglielmo’ Cosi fan tutte), and is currently a developing artist at Victorian Opera, having performed ‘The Baker/Billy Webster’ - Sunday in the Park with George, ‘The King’ - Puss in Boots, ‘Barone Douphol’ - La traviata, ‘Father’ - Hansel and Gretel, ‘Bunyip Bluegum’ - The Magic Pudding – the opera, and ‘Young Recruit’ in Richard Mills’ Remembrance.




CARLOS E. BÁRCENAS Sir Bruno Robertson

TANIA FERRIS Enrichetta di Francia

Born in Colombia. Bachelor of Music Performance and Masters in Music (Opera Performance) at University of Melbourne. His work for Victorian Opera includes Steuermann in The Flying Dutchman (2015), Norma (Flavio, understudy Pollione), Hansel and Gretel (the Witch) , La traviata (Gastone, understudy Alfredo) and Games of Love and Chance (2014); The Magic Pudding – the opera, Miller in Puss in Boots and as a soloist for Opera on a White Night (2013); Master Peter’s Puppet Show in 2012. Michael in Deborah Cheetham’s new opera Pecan Summer with Short Black Opera (2010 & 2011). Normanno and understudy of Edgardo in Lucia de Lammermoor in Treviso, Italy (2014).

Tania's operatic roles include Carmen (Carmen), Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Third Lady (The Magic Flute), Clairon (Capriccio), Mercedes (Carmen), Kate (Pirates of Penzance), Leila (Iolanthe), The Spirit (Dido and Aeneas), Flora (La traviata), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), Fricka (Die Walkure), Ma (The Tender Land), Drummer Girl (Der Kaiser Von Atlantis), Marguerite (The Damnation of Faust). Concert work includes Beethoven 9th Symphony, Handel Messiah, Bach Christmas Oratorio, Rachmaninoff Vespers, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Brahms Alto Rhapsody, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Nelson Mass.


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The Demon Barber of Fleet Street A Musical Thriller Music and Lyrics by STEPHEN SONDHEIM


From an Adaptation by CHRISTOPHER BOND By arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd Exclusive agent for Music Theatre International (NY) Previews 16 - 17 July 7.30pm | Matinee 22, 25 July 1pm | 18 - 25 July 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Tickets from $50 | Book now 1300 182 183 |

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SUPPORT US You are the key ingredient Victorian Opera is committed to building a sustainable art-form built upon excellence and driven by innovation, accessibility and collaboration, and our supporters are a key ingredient. We are the only opera company in Australia to commission, workshop and perform new work annually. In The Flying Dutchman (pictured), we used cutting edge 3D technology to reimagine Wagner’s first masterpiece in St Kilda’s Palais Theatre. “I loved everything: ...the performance of all the opera singers exquisite and the 3D production brought so much excitement and ambience to the production. The memory of those red sails going through treacherous waters will stay with me forever.” - Audience Member, The Flying Dutchman Our Education and Community Engagement program connects with new audiences of all ages through performances, workshops in schools and access programs. “They loved the costumes, staging, singing even in different languages. It was a familiar storyline - which helped them follow what was happening…It was an all-round resounding success!! They raved about it!!!!! And still are.” - Teacher, Alice’s Adventures in Operaland With your support, we can continue to exhilarate and enrich the cultural life of Victoria. Please support Victorian Opera today! To find out more, visit or contact Catrionadh Dobson, Individual Giving Manager on (03) 9001 6405 or email



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REMEMBRANCE A moving ANZAC tribute using archival photos and iconic wartime songs, featuring community choirs emerging artists and operatic favourite, David Hobson. Thursday 13 August 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Tickets $40 - $50 | Book now 1300 182 183 | Presented with assistance from the National Library of Australia and the National War Memorial


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SD E AED LVY ES I NNS International cabaret sensation Meow Meow and Victorian Opera’s next generation of stars bring to life Kurt Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden and then reimagine the seven deadly sins for the 21st century. Thursday 6 November 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Tickets $60 - $65 | Book now 1300 182 183 |



This performance of I Puritani features both current and former students of the Master of Music (Opera Performance) program in soloist roles, chorus and as repetiteur. In total, eleven students from this unique National program presented in collaboration with Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne will be performing on the stage of Hamer Hall tonight. By providing our emerging talent the rare opportunity to perform alongside and learn from celebrated bel canto artists, we aim to create a powerful culture of learning, develop opera’s next generation and build a future for the art-form.

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STAFF Conductor Emeritus

Finance and Administration

Richard Gill OAM

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Surtitle Operator Timothy Mallis

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Performance Partners

Technology Partner

Victorian Opera creates tailored partnerships to enable businesses to meet their strategic priorities. For a discussion about how your business can benefit from a partnership with Victorian Opera, please contact Paul Shea, Corporate Partnerships Manager on (03) 9001 6408 or