Emma Matthews (Lakmé), Aldo Di Toro (Gerald), Stephen Bennett (Nilakantha), Dominica Matthews (Mallika), Edmond Choo (Hadji) & Luke Gabbedy (Frederic)
Opera Australia Chorus & Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Emmanuel Joel-Hornak (conductor) & Roger Hodgman (director)
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Designer Mark Thompson
Light design Nigel Levings
Lakmé, Delibes greatest opera, is performed by Opera Australia in all its oriental glory. Starring the exquisite coloratura soprano Emma Matthews as the innocent girl priestess Lakmé, and superb tenor Aldo Di Toro as the love-struck Gerald, the story tackles religion and cross-cultural love against a backdrop of British rule in India in the mid-19th century.
French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak brings out the full depth of the lush, dramatic score, with familiar high points being the beautiful renditions of the well-known Flower duet and Bell Song. Dominica Matthews adds her rich voice as Mallika and Stephen Bennett is darkly dominating as Brahmin priest Nilakantha, Lakmé’s father, while Roxane Hislop is a consumate Mistress Bentson.
Set and costume designs by Mark Thompson fill the stage with rich colour, atmosphere and exoticism, complemented by Nigel Levings’ warm lighting. This restudied production, originally conceived by Adam Cook, is skilfully directed by Roger Hodgman.
“The production is ornate in a postcard-from-India sort of way but is never vulgar...[Matthews is] a bit more restrained than in her Traviata though still vocally amazing. Leading tenor Aldo di Toro has genuine French sound and style. So convincing are these singers that the opera at times ceases to be a Victorian imperialist souvenir and becomes a window into a genre of opera that has faded from the 21st century”
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