Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Take two long-lost lovers – a gypsy and a prince. Add a quarrelling couple – a free spirit and a fool. And add another secret lover, just for good measure. Mix them with a masquerade ball, a dash of the seashore, some bikinis, mistaken identities, Naples, Turkey, dancing, deceit and delightful confusion, all splashed with the most charming operatic music around and you’ve got the recipe for a side-splitting romp with Rossini.
'The Turk in Italy is one of [Opera Australia's] brightest, best, and most daring shows'
The Daily Telegraph
|Set & Costume Designer||Gabriela Tylesova|
|Lighting Designer||Nick Schlieper|
Running time: 3 hours, including one 20-minute interval.
Giaochino Rossini was only 21 when he wrote his smash hit, The Italian Girl in Algiers. It took him between 18 and 28 days, depending on who you believe (he claimed 18).
The speed at which he wrote it shows in the pacy drama, which combines romance with exotic dress-ups and plenty of laughs. It was such a success that the young and ambitious composer could not help himself: he had to write a sequel.
So it was that in 1814, just a year later, The Turk in Italy opened at La Scala, Milan. The premise was similar: take two pairs of lovers, mix them up and introduce a clash of cultures for added colour. What is amazing about the work, however, is that, unlike most movie sequels, it is genuinely different to its predecessor, packed full of invention, musically and dramatically.
Anthony Legge, Associate Music Director, says “in The Turk in Italy, Rossini puts a whole new spin on the mixed-up lovers scenario. We start out with a poet, Prosdocimo, looking for inspiration for his new opera. In walks a band of gypsies, then a ship full of Turkish sailors. Suddenly, he has all the inspiration he needs!
"The result is vintage Rossini: a laugh a minute, but with several highly sophisticated ensembles which push the boundaries of what can be done on stage. That’s why it is hard to do, and that’s why we’re doing it.
"Great music, great drama and a great challenge.”
To make this tricky piece work, Opera Australia has assembled a cracking comic opera team, with Simon Phillips directing and the award-winning Gabriela Tylesova designing sets and costumes.
According to Simon Phillips, The Turk in Italy will be “just about as much fun as you can have in an opera house”.