It’s summer in Sydney, so there is an Opera Season. Two productions by the distinguished British director David McVicar – Don Giovanni (from 24 January) and Faust (from 10 February)- will make welcome returns to the repertoire. Also there are revivals of Gale Edwards’ La bohème and John Bell’s Carmen, so that’s the tourists looked after. The new production in the season will be Attila by Verdi (from 12 March); indeed the opera itself will be new to most of us.
Attila was Verdi’s ninth out of an amazing total of 31 operas. Verdi had already enjoyed success with Ernani, I due Foscari, Nabucco and I Lombardi. Based on a play by Zacharias Werner, Attila, King of the Huns, the opera premiered in Venice in 1846 where its Germanic emphasis was modified to suit Venetian political ambitions. It’s rabble-rousing patriotism had great appeal then but it was not performed a great deal in the latter 19th century, probably because Verdi produced a subsequent string of masterpieces starting soon after with Macbeth. The score is generally considered to be below Verdi’s best but Attila has received some important revivals in recent decades. The co-production being presented here was directed by Davide Livermore for La Scala in 2018 to considerable acclaim. It will be conducted by Andrea Licata with the Ukrainian bass Taras Berezhansky returning to sing the title role and Sydney-trained Armenian-Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan, as the warrior princess Odabella. It should be stirring stuff.
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