Grandeur in operatic saga
Hamburg’s finest are set to inspire Australian audiences, writes Martin Silk
N opera about family infighting, betrayal, trickery, adultery and incest will provide creative inspiration for Australian audiences as part of The Hamburg Season.
After a 30-year hiatus the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, State Opera and Ballet are performing together again, for the first time in Australia and with a renowned Aussie at the helm.
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the State Government are sponsoring the 333-year-old German company’s exclusive Brisbane shows, dubbed The Hamburg Season.
Hamburg conductor and Australian music icon Simone Young says it’s important people have creative inspiration – particularly from classical music, which shouldn’t be ‘‘just lumped into high-end entertainment’’.
Young’s company is performing Wagner’s 1854 opera Das Rheingold, based on a fifth century Norse saga about the gods. Young says it’s ‘‘an unhappy family scenario’’ that explores family infighting, betrayal, trickery, adultery and incest.
‘‘It’s about the strengths and weaknesses of people and our relationships,’’ she says.
Young describes the sound of an entire European company playing the 2½-hour saga as ‘‘ravishingly beautiful’’.
‘‘Its grandeur . . . it’s imposing, at times exquisitely beautiful, very sensual and it has a very immediate impact.
Simone Young (centre) and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra The sound of 125 people going at it is pretty impressive,’’ she says.
Australian audiences have heard Wagner’s works only a few times.
‘‘This is an orchestra that’s been playing Wagner since he wrote it,’’ Young says.
‘‘Everybody knows about it (the performance), everybody’s talking about it and people are coming from all over Australia to see it.’’
The Hungarians will also stage performances of John Neumeier’s ballets Nijinsky and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with dancers directed by another Aussie, Simon Hewitt.
The music ensemble’s only performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 - Resurrection today will be broadcast free to screens around Brisbane and in six regional centres.
‘‘I’m a Sydney girl originally and would’ve loved to take my orchestra there but Brisbane came up with the idea and it’s exclusive,’’ Young says.
‘‘It’s a very clever move because it makes Brisbane a really strong centre for cultural tourism.
‘‘So good one, Queensland.’’
plays QPAC, in Brisbane, from August 23 to September 5. Visit qpac.com.au for details.