This weekend is a landmark for New Zealand Opera, our national opera company, as around 15 tonnes of scenery and equipment, shipped from Auckland, is due to be unloaded at Port Adelaide. It is for the new, trans-Tasman production of La traviata, one of the world’s favourite operas, and the company’s first collaboration with the State Opera of South Australia.
In the 12-metre long, extra-high container is the glistening, giant jewel-box world created for La traviata plus all the equipment needed to operate the set conceived by award-winning Australian designer Christina Smith. Big enough to fill the entire stage at the Aotea centre, yet clever enough to squeeze into the St James in Wellington, it was crafted at the NZ Opera technical hub in Onehunga, before being disassembled and packed into the company’s own shipping containers.
A smaller shipment (just one tonne!) of Kiwi-made costumes and props is already being used in rehearsals for the new production, which opens in Adelaide on 3rd May. NZ Opera designers and technicians are on-site, as they fit costumes and wigs and arrange the hundreds of numbered items that create the timeless, lavish world of Verdi’s most performed opera. When the final curtain falls near the end of May, the entire production will be returned to New Zealand where it will open with international and Kiwi artists, in Auckland on 19th June. It will then travel to Wellington for the capital’s opening on 11 July.
The opera’s story of “The Lady of the Camellias” has been adapted for some twenty different movies including Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman. It is given a vibrant and fresh look by the modern technology and dazzle of this production, says technical manager Steve Crowcroft. This includes a background printed using the biggest cloth printing machine in the world. “It’s a 30-metre long swathe of camellias, six metres high and printed all in one go, on one piece of cloth, which will provide a stunning stage background,” says Steve.
Tickets have already been selling well, says NZ Opera head of marketing Thierry Pannetier, indicating that both the Wellington and Auckland seasons could be sell-outs. “I believe that technically and artistically the production will appeal to all age groups, with design and music that are rich and moving as well as a universal story.”
NZ OPERA MEDIA RELEASE
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