The Turk in Italy


The Turk in Italy

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House


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.

Colour, comedy and bikinis from the '50s...
The Turk in Italy will be “just about as much fun as you can have in an opera house”.

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”.

Conductor Andrea Molino
Director Simon Phillips
Set & Costume Designer Gabriela Tylesova
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Fiorilla Emma Matthews
Narciso Luciano Botelho
Geronio Conal Coad
Selim Paolo Bordogna
Prosdocimo Samuel Dundas
Zaida Anna Dowsley
Albazar Graeme Macfarlane

Autralian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

Running time: 2 hours & 55 minutes, including one 20-minute interval.

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