From the ed­i­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Deb­o­rah Jones

IT was a great joy last week to see Emma Matthews in a new pro­duc­tion of Lu­cia di Lammermoor for Opera Aus­tralia (it’s in Sydney un­til Novem­ber 2, then in Mel­bourne from Novem­ber 19). Matthews first sang the role in 2008 in the old John Co­p­ley pro­duc­tion dat­ing from 1980, with none other in the pit than Richard Bonynge. With that com­bi­na­tion of re­sources it was hard not to think of Joan Suther­land and her per­haps un­par­al­leled suc­cess in this as­ton­ish­ing role. Matthews did ex­tremely well but seemed a lit­tle re­strained. Not any more. Not only is Matthews vo­cally ra­di­ant, she em­braces the role with the kind of free­dom and truth that makes an ac­tor dis­ap­pear and the char­ac­ter live. So all power to di­rec­tor John Doyle, a Scot who has de­vised a pro­duc­tion of great aus­ter­ity that puts the mu­sic and drama cen­tre stage. I thought it ap­po­site and beau­ti­ful, al­though some may han­ker for a lit­tle more colour and move­ment. They should fight this hanker­ing, in my view. I first saw Doyle’s work on a trip to New York where his Sweeney Todd was a hot ticket (it won a Tony award for best pro­duc­tion, and Doyle also has a Tony for a re­vival of Com­pany, so he’s quite the Sond­heim ex­pert). With Sweeney Todd Doyle took the au­da­cious step of cast­ing ac­tors who could also play an in­stru­ment, and had them dou­ble as the or­ches­tra. It made the piece in­ti­mate and ter­ri­fy­ing. A di­rec­tor who could pull that off is clearly pretty good with ac­tors, and so it is with Doyle, Matthews and Lu­cia. The open­ing night au­di­ence was just thrilled. Matthews, by the way, has just won her seventh Help­mann award, a record num­ber. Is an eighth in the off­ing? Mind you, I hear Ch­eryl Barker is killing it, if you’ll for­give the ex­pres­sion, in re­hearsals for Salome ...

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