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In 2007, Antoinette sang the title role of Rusalka, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire and Johanna in Sweeney Todd for Opera Australia. Her concert work has included Mozart's Requiem (Hong Kong), Orff's Carmina Burana (Melbourne), Adams' El Nino (Sydney), Haydn's Creation and Fauré's Requiem (Melbourne). She has appeared with singer-songwriter Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet at the Sydney Festival.
In Wellington NBR NZ Opera's staging looked up decidedly at the Parisian 'Café Momus', a Latin Quarter boulevard venue buzzing with activity between two stark high-rise condominium buildings.
The lively student bonhomie of flirtatious Marcello (Polish baritone Martin Bronikowski), good-hearted Colline (Auckland bass Wade Kernot) and generous Schaunard (Dunedin baritone Robert Tucker) was unflagging and infectious throughout.
Even more Australian, soprano Tiffany Speight was striking in portraying a boldly coquettish yet warmly-spirited Musetta.
Tiffany Speight as Musetta and Marcin Bronikowski as Marcello in New Zealand Opera's production of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2008 Neil Mackenzie
Speight is a recipient of the Vienna State Opera Award and acclaimed for many roles in Oz, among them Pamina/Papagena (The Magic Flute), Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel) and Johanna (Sweeney Todd). Her other 2008 engagements include the title role in L'Incoronazione di Poppea for Victorian Opera, Poulenc's Stabat Mater for Sydney Philharmonia and a Handel Gala with Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne.
A gross, and small (though far-reaching) error of judgment in this production came early in Act 2, when Rodolfo buys Mimì a pink bonnet. Whether it was a tacit reminder that this is the frivolous 21st century or a stroke of footling Kiwi humour, pink, clip-on rabbits ears, reminiscent of $2 Shop bric-a-brac, became a 'tacky' bonnet substitute.
Sadly, the damaging effect was to make light of Mimì's ill-fated circumstances.
Copyright © 29 May 2008
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand