A new Semele allows New Zealand Opera to go ahead with star-studded production

New Zealand Opera welcomes Wellington-based Australian soprano Emma Pearson to the cast for Handel’s Semele at Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral this September. She replaces Sydney’s Celeste Lazarenko, who, following detailed discussions with New Zealand Opera’s management, has withdrawn from the production due to the uncertainty and risks surrounding travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emma Pearson

New Zealand Opera’s General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess says the Company has been preparing for many different scenarios since New Zealand went into lockdown in March, including arranging for Emma Pearson to prepare the role in case Celeste Lazarenko was unable to come to New Zealand. “I know it was a hugely difficult decision for Celeste to make, and we look forward to finding an opportunity to work with her in the future.”

“Most opera companies around the world are closed until further notice, and we’re hugely fortunate to be in a position to lead the way with our season of Semele, which features an almost entirely Kiwi cast,” he said.

“Emma is a supremely talented lyric-coloratura soprano and singing actress. We’re incredibly fortunate that she now lives in New Zealand with her family so that we could ask her to step into this production. She was scheduled to play The Countess in The Marriage of Figaro this year, but that production is postponed until 2021, so in the discombobulation that is the world, I’m delighted that at least temporarily everything has fallen into place.”

The brand-new immersive and site-specific production of Semele directed by De Mallet Burgess with Jacqueline Coatsalso features New Zealand singers Amitai Pati (SOL3 MIO), Paul Whelan, Sarah Castle, Stephen Diaz and Chelsea Dolman, along with the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus, the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir and a new Baroque Orchestra under the baton of Peter Walls.

Tickets are selling quickly for one of the few major stage productions of 2020, so music and theatre lovers are encouraged to get in quick to secure their seats at the wedding of the year!

10-19 September
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Book at nzopera.com