Australia’s performing arts don’t pack up over the summer, and sometimes a cool, dark theatre is the perfect escape from a beating sun. Here are just a few of the many and varied theatre, opera and dance works on across the country.
Sydney theatregoers have the chance to see the visceral Prize Fighter by Congolese refugee Future D. Fidel, developed at La Boite in Brisbane, about a child soldier who flees to Australia and becomes a professional boxer (January 7-22 at Belvoir).
For those who like their Shakespeare with an edge, the Russian-language Measure for Measure from Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre promises a trip right outside the comfort zone (January 7-11 at Ros Packer Theatre). Directed by Declan Donnellan, it was called “a shattering portrait of contemporary Russia” by Novaya Gazeta.
By contrast, Melbourne Theatre Company’s Born Yesterday (January 19-February 25 at Southbank Theatre) promises Broadway glamour by the oodle. In Garson Kanin’s 1946 comedy, a thuggish tycoon hires a journalist to give his girlfriend some gloss, hoping this will help him bribe a congressman — big mistake.
On the opera stage, the double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is an emotional feast of forbidden love, jealousy, honour and violence, with at least two numbers — the Easter Hymn and Vesti la giubba — guaranteed to bring goosebumps. This Royal Opera House-Opera Australia co-production (January 12-February 4 at the Sydney Opera House, then at Arts Centre Melbourne, May 10-20) intertwines the two stories set in an Italian village in the 1980s.
On a more biblical scale, Barrie Kosky directs Handel’s Saul — the epic oratorio about the king of Israel, his souring relationship with David and his eventual downfall — in a Glynde- bourne Festival Opera production exclusive to Adelaide (Festival Theatre, March 3-9).
For pure enchantment, Victorian Opera is putting on the rarely produced Sleeping Beauty by Ottorino Respighi, written in 1922. The production will feature emerging vocal talent and, true to the composer’s vision, a cast of puppets, designed by Joe Blanck (March 11-18 at Arts Centre Melbourne, later touring to Hobart).
Dance over summer is asking a big question: why should paintings have all the fun? To ac- Clockwise from left, Lucy Crowe in Handel’s epic oratorio Saul; Measure for
from Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre; Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc’s Attractor company Nude: Art from the Tate Collection at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Dance Company artistic director Rafael Bonachela has choreographed work for six dancers in response to the artworks, performed, naturally, au naturel (January 7-23; see cover story on Page 8).
West Australian Ballet takes ballet to the beach with its annual summer season at the Quarry Amphitheatre (February 3-25). Takuto: Ballet at the Quarry consists of four short works, all Australian premieres: In Transit by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; the tongue-in-cheek Ballet
by Eric Gauthier; Takuto, inspired by Japanese taiko drumming, also by Gauthier; and Christopher Hill’s The Clearest Light in its world premiere.
The Asia Triennial of Performing Arts (February 13-March 6 in Melbourne) features numerous dance works from all over the region. China’s avant-garde Tao Dance Theatre performs two pieces from Tao Ye’s Straight Line Trilogy; in Eko Supriyanto’s Balabala, women combine dance with martial arts while his Cry Jailolo is a paean to endangered nature; Javanese music duo Senyawa together with Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc present Attractor, a “trance-noise odyssey”; and in Dancing with Death, Thai choreographer Pichet Klunchun creates a space between life and afterlife inspired by the Phi Ta Khon ghost festival.
And back in the comfort zone, Queensland Ballet brings back David McAllister’s beautiful reimagining of Sleeping Beauty with sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova (February 24March 4 at QPAC).