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  • Helen Gramotnev


Whoever said opera is an old art has never experienced Opera Queensland’s new production of Lorelei. The sirens of Lorelei lure the audiences into an entirely fresh operatic concept—a healthy mix of classical voices, contemporary text, and a clever staging concept that is both minimalist and a visual treat of comedy.

This is Jesus Christ Superstar meets James Bond, spiced up with some burlesque, and a large dollop of cabaret! Dressed in fabulous costumes (an understatement!) designed by Marg Horwell, with the sirens luring the audiences into a very personal and a very modern journey of self-discovery, complete with emojis, contemporary texting jokes, and some course language. Just as Shakespeare brought theatre to the masses, this production steps up to connect with contemporary audiences in a brave and refreshing way, as it explores “the role we’re born to play”.

With Dimity Shepherd, Ali McGregor, and Antoinette Halloran as the three sirens, they set the scene—glamourous, irresistible, and dedicated to luring men to their deaths. That is, until one of them throws a challenge by throwing off her skirt! The magnificent costumes are ‘deconstructed’ as the sirens come to a realisation that their lives may not be what they always believed, and start peeling the layers off their questionable existence, symbolised in their many, many layers of costumes.

The three ‘boxes’, confining the sirens to their spaces, and starkly contrasting their flamboyant dresses, emphasise the limitations of their roles. They also hint at the contemporary life of screens, text messages, and emojis, as they appear in the form of the traditional opera subtitles.

To the music and lyrics of Julian Langdon, Casey Bennetto, and Gillian Cosgriff, it is impossible not to go on the journey with these delightful women as they put literal meaning to the phrase “when one door closes, another one opens”. The many, many doors on the stage, symbolising unanswered questions and just-out-of-reach possibilities, double as an invigorating source of physical comedy.

Can these sirens come out of their ‘shells’? What happens if they interact with one another? The invisible forces that assign them their fateful roles are no match for their inquisitive nature and their bravery in imagining a different life. This opera is fresh, unassuming, and continually surprising—one that you will certainly want to see again.

Opera Queensland’s Lorelei is playing at the QPAC Concert Hall until 13 March 2021.


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