Saturday, July 10, 2010


Opera Australia - Sydney Opera House
Season ends 15th July 2010.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

This new production of the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical "A Little Night Music" is a deliriously sensuous affair.

Designer Roger Kirk's ravishing costumes and attractive fluid setting provides the perfect environment for the giddy whirl of romantic liaisons which drive this wickedly sophisticated show.

The direction of Stuart Maunder is almost balletic as he manoeuvers his cast through a series of delightful set pieces, beautiful to watch and simply glorious to listen to.

Sigrid Thornton, in her first musical, is quite superb as Desiree Armfeldt. Hoydenish, funny, but always gorgeous, her beautifully restrained performance of the song "Send in the Clowns" rightly drew prolonged enthusiastic applause.

With his fine voice and handsome presence, Anthony Warlow is practically perfect in the role of Desiree's ex-lover, Fredrik Egerman, somehow managing to appear ridiculous and dignified at the same time. He is well-matched by Ben Lewis, his rival for Desiree's affections, as the pompous Count Carl-Magnus.

Both Lucy Maunder and Katrina Retallick are beautifully cast in roles which showcase their considerable individual talents, while Nancye Hayes effortlessly dominates every scene in which she appears as the matriach Madame Armfeldt.

Stand-out performances from Matthew Robinson as the desperately lovelorn Henrik and Kate Maree Houlihan as the maid, Petra, plus the lush sounds of the large orchestra under Andrew Greene, with the superbly balanced singing of the five Liebslieder singers, all add patina to this superbly realised production.

(An edited version of this review appears in the City News July 8-14)