Pyramus & Thisbe - another Pinchgut first

When you think about it, opera can be really quite silly, can’t it? Sopranos trilling out the same word over and over again in overblown costumes; tenors belting out “I die, I die” for a full ten minutes; ridiculous disguises that wouldn’t fool a three-year old; and impossible tales of long-lost sons and daughters being magically reunited in a single line of recitative. 

For all their magic and splendour, opera plots and opera singers are also delicious sources of satire and parody. Following a rich tradition of small comic operas that flourished in England beginning with The Beggar’s Opera, John Lampe’s Pyramus and Thisbe was a bit hit in 1741. To the delight of packed houses, it mocked the excesses and ludicrousness of Italian opera and opera singers. Using as a basis the play-within-a-play of “Pyramus and Thisbe” from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the opera itself follows Shakespeare’s story pretty well, and Lampe’s music lampoons all the silly conventions of opera seria, with its over-the-top ornamentation and dramatically inert repetitions in da capo arias.

You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! Come and be an exclusive guest at Pinchgut’s next fundraiser where we send up, in classic British fashion, the very stuff that we do best!

This will be another Australian premiere (how many’s that now for Pinchgut? Seven? Eight? I think we’ve lost count! – Ed.) to be performed for you by some familiar faces, and others not so familiar. May we introduce you to…

Tenor Christopher Saunders will be flexing his comic muscles (in anticipation of his role of Demo in Giasone later this year) when he performs as Pyramus at our fundraiser. Chris will be familiar to many from Griselda in 2011, when he played the not-altogether-likeable character of King Gualtiero, responsible for casting out poor Griselda from the castle. In real life, Chris is one of the nicest people you could meet and we’re glad that as the heroic, love-struck Pyramus, he’ll have a chance to restore his good name!

We’re delighted to introduce to you soprano Alexandra Oomens who will be taking the role of Thisbe. Alex is also making her debut with Pinchgut later in the year as Alinda in Giasone. Alex is also studying at the Sydney Conservatorium and has been singing for year, and years, and years. Much of her training was done with the wonderful children’s choir organisation, Gondwana Choirs. We are 100% sure you’re going to love her.

No doubt you’ll remember tenor Pascal Herington from his athletic vocal feats as a soloist in last year’s Castor & Pollux, bringing the house down just before interval with high ‘c’ upon high ‘c’! Pascal has been busy with studies at the Sydney Conservatorium, and also a season of performances in Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave. We’re very happy that he’s agreed to join the fun as Wall and Moon, and also offer his astounding vocal services as a prize for our silent auction. More on that below.

We needed to find a shy-and-retiring type to play the lion. When you work in the theatre, it’s a lot easier said than done, as you might imagine. Lovely, lovely Corin Bone, whom many of you will recognise from his regular appearances as baritone with Cantillation, has promised us he’ll work on his social anxieties and anthrophobia to truly get into character as the Lion. You’re in for a treat!