October 8, 2011


The NBR New Zealand Opera has announced its 2012 Season, revealing an exciting and diverse programme for audiences.

Three operas will be staged in 2012: two main-stage productions in Auckland and Wellington – a new production of Verdi’s much-loved Rigoletto, and Smetana’s comic masterpiece The Bartered Bride; and Hōhepa, a new opera, having its world première at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

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(15 – 18 March, Wellington) 

The true story of the friendship between Maori chief Hōhepa and Pakeha settler Thomas Mason during the New Zealand Wars is told in Jenny McLeod’s ground-breaking new work Hōhepa, premièring at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington. 

Jenny McLeod, widely respected as one of New Zealand’s foremost composers, took up the task of writing the libretto and music of Hōhepain the late ’90s. Since then, her research has been extensive, based on recorded, personal and oral histories, and the result is a warm and at times humorous opera, epic yet very human at heart. 

General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Aidan Lang, says: “In the early days of our discussions with Jenny, we envisaged Hōhepa as being a chamber opera. Now, through the support of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, we are thrilled to be able to present Hōhepaon a much larger scale, to incorporate dance, as well as a large cast of singers, and to do justice to this important New Zealand story.” 

Bringing Hōhepato life on stage is New Zealand director Sara Brodie with Tony de Goldi designing the set and costumes. Alongside them are video artist Louise Potiki-Bryant, lighting designer Jeremy Fern, assistant director and choreographer Taiaroa Royal, and cultural advisor Paraone Tai Tin. With this creative team, audiences can expect a dynamic production. 

A high-calibre cast, comprising almost entirely New Zealand talent, has been secured. Returning from the UK to sing the title role is The NBR New Zealand Opera’s PwC Dame Malvina Major Young Artist, Phillip Rhodes. Alongside him are fellow New Zealanders Jonathan Lemalu, Jenny Wollerman, Martin Snell, Deborah Wai Kapohe, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i and Robert Tucker. A further ten singers take the remaining roles and form the ensemble.

Hōhepa will be accompanied by players from the Vector Wellington Orchestra, conducted by Marc Taddei.

HŌHEPA by Jenny McLeod
Presented by The NBR New Zealand Opera and the New Zealand International Arts Festival

Conductor                                          MARC TADDEI
Director                                              SARA BRODIE
Production Designer                         TONY DE GOLDI
Video Designer                                  LOUISE POTIKI BRYANT
Lighting Designer                              JEREMY FERN
Assistant Director/Choreographer   TAIROA ROYAL
Cultural Advisor                                PARAONE TAI TIN

Hōhepa                                                           PHILLIP RHODES 
Jane Mason                                                   JENNY WOLLERMAN 
Thomas Mason/Carver                                 NICKY SPENCE 
Te Kumete/Blackie                                       JONATHAN LEMALU 
Te Rai/Kui                                                      DEBORAH WAI KAPOHE 
Te Tokotoko/Te Waha                                  RAWIRI PARATENE 
Governor Grey/Warder Imrie/Settler         MARTIN SNELL 
Kaparatehau                                                 EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI’I 
Prout/Army Major/Reporter/Settler                       ROBERT TUCKER 
Settler                                                             EMMA ROXBURGH 
Te Pau/Puaha                                                            MOSES MACKAY 
Delphina/Maori                                             ELISHA FAI 
Settler/Soldier                                                           ANDREW GRENON 
Settler                                                             BIANCA ANDREW 
Ensemble                                                       EMMA FRASER 
Ensemble                                                       STEPHEN DIAZ 


Wellington – The Opera House
Thu 15 & Sat 17 March – 7.30pm, Sun 18 March – 5pm

(19 – 26 May, Wellington; 7 – 17 June, Auckland

Rigoletto is full of soaring music which makes one feel one’s heart is going to burst. Dramatically [the title role] is to an opera singer what Hamlet or King Lear is to an actor. It is the zenith of the Verdi baritone repertoire.” – Warwick Fyfe, Rigoletto

Opera doesn’t get more melodramatic than Rigoletto, Verdi’s heart-breaking tale of love and deception. Rigoletto is also a firm favourite with audiences, and amid a flow of glorious melody features one of opera’s most recognisable arias, “La donna è mobile”. 

Aidan Lang says “Rigoletto is an emotionally charged opera and this new, New Zealand Opera production will be a Rigoletto of our times; it will be topical.

“Our style is to offer a judicious re-examination of the operas we perform. We make old war horses come alive again. And under the direction of Lindy Hume, whose 2007 Lucia di Lammermoor so thrilled its audiences, this Rigoletto will certainly be alive. Lindy’s productions are always intelligent and well thought out theatrically. Her approach enables her to achieve exemplary performances from her singers, and with the line-up in this production, she’ll produce some great results.” 

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s Director of Music, Wyn Davies, conducts a top-notch cast including Warwick Fyfe in the great central role of Rigoletto. Emma Pearson returns from her triumphant Susanna in 2010 to sing his daughter Gilda, and Rafael Rojas plays the philandering Duke of Mantua. Egyptian bass baritone Ashraf Seweilam takes the role of Sparafucile, and New Zealanders Kristen Darragh and Rodney McCann sing Maddalena and Count Monterone respectively. 

RIGOLETTO by Giuseppe Verdi 

Conductor                              WYN DAVIES 
Director                                  LINDY HUME 
Production Designer             RICHARD ROBERTS 
Lighting Designer                  JASON MORPHETT 

Rigoletto                                 WARWICK FYFE
Duke of Mantua                     RAFAEL ROJAS
Gilda                                       EMMA PEARSON
Sparafucile                             ASHRAF SEWAILAM
Maddalena                             KRISTEN DARRAGH
Count Monterone                  RODNEY MACANN
Count Ceprano                       JAMES CLAYTON
Matteo Borsa                         DEREK HILL
Cavaliere Marullo                  MATTHEW LANDRETH
Countess Ceprano                 EMMA FRASER
Giovanna                                WENDY DOYLE
The Usher                              MOSES MACKAY

Accompanied by the Vector Wellington Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus


Wellington – St James Theatre 
Sat 19 May (7.30pm), Tue 22 May (6pm), Thu 24 May (7.30pm), Sat 26 May (7.30pm)

Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
Thu 7 Jun (7.30pm), Sat 9 Jun (7.30pm), Wed 13 Jun (7.30pm), Fri 15 Jun (7.30pm), Sun 17 Jun (2.30pm) 

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(22 – 29 September, Auckland; 13 – 20 October, Wellington
“… the show zips along, joyfully, liberatingly. Pure heaven.” – The Times, UK 
“… one of the most vivaciously animated productions in years.” – The Guardian, UK 
Bedřich Smetana’s dream to establish a Czech national opera was realised with The Bartered Bride, his second opera, and the first Czech opera to become a worldwide hit. 

An effervescent, comic look at Bohemian life, The Bartered Bride is a tale of true love prevailing despite the best efforts of a scheming marriage broker and a couple of social-climbing parents. 

Aidan Lang says he is excited to be presenting The Bartered Bride to New Zealand audiences, particularly as it is the highly acclaimed Opera North production directed by Daniel Slater. 

“This is a thoughtful and highly engaging production,” he says; “it’s a comedy, but with an edge to it. Daniel directs it at a very human level and paints clearly the dilemmas the characters go through. He takes the piece at face value, deliberately moving away from a folkloric look and instead dealing with real people in real situations. 

“The result is a potent piece of comedic theatre.” 

A largely New Zealand cast has been secured with principal roles taken by Anna Leese, Conal Coad, Patricia Wright, Helen Medlyn, Richard Green and Andrew Glover.

And returning following critical acclaim as conductor of 2011’s Cav & Pag is Oliver von Dohnányi, Director of the State Opera of Prague and the original conductor of this production when it was performed in the UK. 

“With a famous overture that promises an even madder day than The Marriage of Figaro – and delivers on that promise – our Bartered Bride is apolitical comedy featuring polkas, fights, excessive amounts of Czech beer,a brilliant anti-Communist circus and a dancing Russian bear.”
– Daniel Slater, Director 

THE BARTERED BRIDE by Bedřich Smetana 

Conductor                                          OLIVER VON DOHNÁNYI 
Director                                              DANIEL SLATER 
Associate Director/Choreographer TIM CLAYDON
Production Designer                         ROBERT INNES HOPKINS 
Lighting Designer                              SIMON MILLS

Mařenka                                             ANNA LEESE 
Jenik                                                   PETER WEDD 
Kecal                                                   CONAL COAD 
Vašek                                                  ANDREW GLOVER 
Esmeralda                                          TARYN FIEBIG 
Krušina                                               RICHARD ALEXANDER 
Ludmila                                              PATRICA WRIGHT 
Micha                                                  RICHARD GREEN 
Hata                                                    HELEN MEDLYN 

Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra
With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus


Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
Sat 22 Sep (7.30pm), Tue 25 Sep (6.30pm), Thu 27 Sep (7.30pm), Sat 29 Sep (7.30pm) 

Wellington – St James Theatre 
Sat 13 Oct (7.30pm), Tue 16 Oct (6pm), Thu 18 Oct (7.30pm), Sat 20 Oct (7.30pm) 

The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand and Auckland Council through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act   

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