New Zealand Opera reveals the Company’s 2020 programme, underpinned by a new purpose and values that are focused on connecting with New Zealand people and stories, and introducing the art form to new audiences.
The Company’s ambition is simple – to lead opera from Aotearoa in a way that reimagines the art form; embraces the cultural and social identities of our diverse communities; and ensures a vibrant and sustainable presence for opera in New Zealand.
He ārahi i te puoro whakaari i Aotearoa kia kitea rerekētia ai tēnei tū toi, kia awhitia ai ngā tuakiri ā-ahurea, ā-pāpori hoki o ō tātou hapori kanorau, ā, kia ora ia, kia toitū ai hoki te puoro whakaari i Aotearoa.
This ambition sums up New Zealand Opera’s new strategic agenda, and sits alongside the new purpose and values. General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess says New Zealand Opera will begin to look different as the Company embarks on a new direction.
“I’m delighted to say that opera lovers will have more opportunities to experience our compelling art form, and that we’re already working with New Zealand creatives to develop new works that tell stories that resonate here,” he said.
Likewise, Creative New Zealand is thrilled to see New Zealand Opera take this new direction. Senior Manager Arts Development Services Cath Cardiff says, “In a strong show of our support, Creative New Zealand has provided New Zealand Opera significant renewed funding for the next three years.”
The 2020 season is the first programmed by de Mallet Burgess, who joined the Company in mid-2018 and recently made his directorial debut in New Zealand with a sell-out and critically acclaimed production of The Turn of the Screw. Each work presented next year is connected in some way to the theme Revolution Redemption Resignation.
New Zealand Opera will continue to present a mainscale production every year – the most traditional form of opera in large theatres with orchestras and choruses and full production. In 2020 the mainscale opera is a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.
“The ideas contained in this opera are revolutionary for the time and their focus on power and gender in society and politics are very now. Interestingly, the opera ends with a statement of compassion and forgiveness,” says de Mallet Burgess.
The first of three site specific works in the 2020 programme is a three centre tour of Eight Songs for a Mad King, by Peter Maxwell Davies. The production is presented with the support of New Zealand Festival of the Arts and Auckland Arts Festival and in partnership with ground-breaking musical ensemble Stroma.
In September, Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral will play host to Handel’s opera/oratorio hybrid Semele. The production will feature an orchestra formed especially for Semele featuring period instrument players conducted by Peter Walls, a globally acknowledged expert in the performance of Baroque music. The Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus will perform alongside the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir.
The final production for 2020 (also site-specific), Poulenc and Cocteau’s opera The Human Voice, is the first step in New Zealand Opera’s move into regional New Zealand, with this compelling production performed in hotel rooms, bringing the audiences within inches of the story as it unfolds.
2020 marks the first stage of an exciting new opera development project. New Zealand Opera is looking for new voices to imagine what opera might be in the context of modern living in Aotearoa. This initiative is titled Voices of Aotearoa 6:24 and will involve singers, instrumentalists, composers and writers – collected into teams to develop ideas for works that may be commissioned in the future.
In 2020 there are more concerts on the agenda including Summer of Opera concerts in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch, New Zealand Opera in Concert in Manukau and Wellington, and the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus will take the stage in Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Peter Grimes. The Opera in Schools and Opera in the Community programmes continue to grow, reaching new audiences of all ages, with the annual Opera in Schools tour reaching thousands of children each year.
2020 marks the 20th year of New Zealand Opera as a Company, formed when the National Opera of Wellington and Opera New Zealand merged in 2000. It also marks 20 years of a partnership with the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, and in 2020 a new programme will be launched, replacing the Emerging Artist programme. The three singers selected for the first year of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist Programme are Anna Simmons, Harry Grigg and Felicity Tomkins.
2020 will be a landmark year for New Zealand Opera, as the Company broadens its offering to showcase more of Aotearoa’s talent and stories.
Subscription packages for New Zealand Opera’s 2020 season – Revolution Redemption Resignation – are available today, and tickets will go on general sale on Tuesday 11 February.