What’s in store for MUSIC LOVERS this year?

WORDS: Phil Hawkes PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Here’s what to look for from July onwards

Now that half a year has passed, we’re looking forward to the remainder of 2024 for some further musical inspiration. And speaking of inspiring musical offerings, who will forget Wagner’s Ring Cycle, plus Aida at the end of 2023, from Opera Australia in conjunction with Opera Queensland and the enhanced Queensland Symphony? This event surely set a benchmark for the future of opera and fine music in this state from 2024 onwards… the first 6 months has been a testament to that.

Just a few other memories: OQ’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Jessica Pratt; OA’s Handa-on-the-harbour West Side Story, plus Tosca; Victorian Opera’s colourful (and memorable) production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide…what a year it’s been so far, especially for admirers of Bernstein following the revelatory “Maestro” movie .

The rest of this year is just as promising. Here’s what’s in store…some highlights, including orchestral concerts:


PURCELL: Dido & Aeneas. This timeless tale of love and tragedy takes on a contemporary twist as Opera Queensland collaborates with Circa, fusing Baroque opera with the daring artistry of acrobatics. Henry Purcell’s 1689 masterpiece, renowned for its poignant narrative, finds new life in this ground-breaking production. Playhouse, QPAC, 11-27 July.

Dido & Aeneas

Queensland Symphony Orchestra

RICHARD STRAUSS: A Hero’s Life. Strauss injected multiple musical quotations into his self-referential masterpiece Ein Heldenleben – so you’re bound to recognise a few when you hear it live. Spot your favourite Straussian sound bite or simply revel in the triumphant melodies that earned the piece the title. Nicholas Carter conducts the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. QPAC Concert Hall, 2-3 August.

RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 3. Rachmaninov doesn’t mess around with his Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor – his melodies draw you in from the very beginning. Your soloist is Nobuyuki Tsujii, a former child prodigy who gave his major Tokyo debut at 12, and has since taken the world by storm, as he presents history’s most challenging music learnt through Braille and ear. Marvel at the depth of expression in every note before the programme continues with Prokofiev’s Symphony No.7. QPAC Concert Hall, 18-19 October.

Heroic Masterpieces

Nobuyuki Tsujii

UMBERTO AND NATSUKO: End of year Gala Concert featuring QSO Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici and Concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto in concert – but have you ever heard these powerhouse musicians take centre stage together? Clerici swaps baton for bow when he tears through a cello solo alongside our showstopping violin superstar in Brahms’ Double Concerto. Music by Brahms, Schubert, Strauss and Wagner. This is an event not to be missed. QPAC Concert Hall, 15-16 November.

Natsuko Yoshimoto

Umberto Clerici


VERDI: Tosca, Puccini’s political thriller…leading UK arts organisation Opera North received received 5-stars from The Times UK for its tense dramatic power. Director Edward Dick presents Puccini’s gripping drama and sensational music amid a blend of Renaissance Roman grandeur and contemporary references in a highly theatrical design. International stars Giselle Allen, Karah Son, Young Woo Kim, Gevorg Hakobyn and Warwick Fyfe will deliver unmissable performances in this action-packed romance with a jaw-dropping ending. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, 25 June-16 August.

PUCCINI: Il Trittico. Continuing the celebration of Puccini…his rarely performed final work of three one-act operas offers one of the most varied evenings in opera. Each presenting its own characters, story and genre, the triptych is a contrasting exploration of love, lies and death via gritty melodrama in Il Tabarro, intimate tragedy in Suor Angelica and surprising satire in Gianni Schicchi. Three inspiring young Australian directors navigate thrilling drama, cinematically intense music and controlled comic chaos, featuring famous aria ‘O mio babbino caro’ and tight ensemble singing, with a feast of Australian operatic talent. Sydney Opera House, 3-19 July.

Tosca 2

Il Trittico

DEAN: Hamlet. One of the most successful operas ever composed by an Australian, Brett Dean’s astoundingly raw, visceral interpretation of Shakespeare’s murderous Hamlet will make its SOH debut. Having received great acclaim at the 2017 Glyndebourne Festival, the immensely complex score features electronic music and cinema-like surround sound effects with Matthew Jocelyn’s thrilling libretto. Reprising his 2022 Met Opera debut, British tenor Allan Clayton MBE will make his Sydney Opera House debut opposite Australian soprano Lorina Gore reprising her 2018 Adelaide Festival Helpmann Award-winning Ophelia, and American baritone Rod Gilfry as Claudius. With Conductor Tim Anderson and Director Neil Armfield.  Sydney Opera House, 20 July-9 August.

MOZART:  Così fan tutte. A feisty farce set to music of impossible beauty in Sir David McVicar’s wildly popular 2016 production of Mozart’s funny and sublime opera. Set in the early 1900s, the comic yet poignant drama about love, sex, fidelity and loss will play out among ravishing costumes and a set bathed in glorious sunlight. Greek conductor Zoe Zeniodi will make her Australian debut with Australian stars at Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, 1-17 August.


Cosi fan tutte

SILENCE & RAPTURE: Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Dance Company join forces for a spectacular new collaboration… a spectacular showcase of dance, music, vocals and breathtaking lighting that will tour nationally. Silence & Rapture celebrates the ethereal music of JS Bach and Arvo Pärt – two composers whose timeless music reaches across centuries to speak to the very core of the human soul. This is an experience not to be missed on this national tour…including Sydney 2-7 August, Melbourne 10-12 August and Brisbane 19 August.


MAZZOLI: Breaking the Waves. Opera Australia to present cult film turned contemporary opera for the culturally curious. This operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s sensational film Breaking the Waves by American composer Missy Mazzoli and Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek is set to be an electrifying experience. Melbourne Theatre Company’s Anne-Louise Sarks will direct a new semi-staged production for Opera Australia… Australian-British conductor Jessica Cottis will lead the cast, renowned OA Chorus and Orchestra Victoria through Mazzoli’s brilliant score. Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 26 July.

PUCCINI: La Rondine (The Swallow). Puccini’s gift for mesmerising melodies captures the essence of romance and love at first sight between a Parisian courtesan, Magda, and her naïve and ardent admirer Ruggero. Magda, a metaphorical swallow, is torn between the life she needs and the life she knows. Puccini’s exquisite score vividly shapes characters and choruses, evoking the beguiling essence of Parisian life. La Rondine navigates a spectrum of emotions from the the City of Love, the bittersweet sorrow of regret, and the sensuality of young love. Victorian Opera, Palais Theatre, St Kilda, 8-10 August.

Breaking the Waves

La Rondine

MOZART: The Magic Flute. Award-winning Kate Gaul makes her directorial debut for Opera Australia with an enchanting and eclectic production of Mozart’s well-loved The Magic Flute. Performed in English, audiences will be delighted by this opera’s big heart, adventurous spirit and memorable music. Australian soprano Celeste Lazarenko and heavy metal vocalist turned opera star, Shanul Sharma, will join a cast of accomplished singers including Andrew Moran, Esther Song, David Parkin and Jane Ede. Geelong Arts Centre, 9-16 November

CHORUS!  Attracting great acclaim and accolades for many years as one of the best opera choruses in the world, the renowned Opera Australia Chorus will have the spotlight all to themselves in an hour-long showcase of great operatic choral pieces. Led by Chorus Master Paul Fitzsimon, forty-eight Opera Australia choristers directed by Matthew Barclay will explore the vast musical terrain of opera repertoire in a unique musical and theatrical experience. Geelong Arts Centre, 13-15 November.

The Magic Flute