Elixir of Love: Heady potion for country audiences

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Published: 15th April, 2019

When you think of Victoria’s Gold Rush history, is opera something that immediately springs to mind?

It does to Jamie Moffat, producer/director of GBD Productions.

When looking to start a new company, historian Jamie discovered that there were troupes of opera singers who toured the goldfields to bring culture to the huge influx of population, drawn there by the promise of instant wealth.

Under the banner of Mr Lyster’s Touring Colonial Opera (in tribute to impresario William Lyster who made his mark in Australia in the nineteenth century), GBD Productions is bringing Donizetti’s delightful opera The Elixir of Love, touring Victoria and New South Wales from 27 April.

Last year, the inaugural Mr Lyster’s Touring Colonial Opera was Mozart’s Don Giovanni, performed in costume with piano accompaniment from Opera Australia’s School’s Company pianist and musical director Pam Christie. It toured the Victorian Goldfields town of Tarnagulla, in its original Goldfield era Victoria Theatre, and appropriately at Warrnambool’s Mozart Theatre.

The production was a huge success, selling out its Tarnagulla performance well before performance day. And the response from the audience was warm and enthusiastic.

“Not much happens in our sleepy little community,” wrote one Tarnagulla audience member, “but yesterday the opera came to town, and our beloved Victoria Theatre sprang back to life. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.”

So that’s why Jamie has assembled his players and they will kick off the 2019 Elixir of Love Season at Tarnagulla on 27 April, followed by Warrnambool on 18 May, Beechworth on 11 May, Albury-Wodonga on 25 May and Oxley on 1 June.

There will also be one Melbourne performance at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Canterbury on 4 May at 2pm.

The company is attracting some serious professional talent, with rising soprano Piera Dennerstein as Adina, Herald-Sun Finalist and 2019 Green Room nominee Michael Lampard as Belcore, tenor Nick Seidenman as Nemorino, Tahlia Murphy at Gianetta, and Jamie saving one performance fee by singing Dulcamara and directing. (I should add that Jamie is a trained, experienced and well-known bass around Melbourne so it’s an appropriate casting!)

The fine alternate cast is Helen Koehne, James Macaulay and Andrew Alesi.

The ensemble includes Jessica Joan Graham, Lara Vocisano, Josh Morton-Galea and Steven Touzel.

Jamie’s day job is working in the justice system liaising between costs experts, law firms and courts, which he says is good training for running an opera company!

But GBD Productions is a definite labour of love for this opera aficionado.

“I started GBD in 2014,m with a view to giving a platform to emerging and established performers and composters, and we quickly branched out into regional concerts. I discovered there was a market in the regions for classical music, and opera in particular, and thus the Lyster company concept was born,” Jamie explained.

So whether you are in regional Victoria or in the ‘burbs, watch out for this innovative and exciting production of The Elixir of Love, touring near you soon!

Further information: gbdproductions.com.au and bookings through trybooking.com or call 0410 890 388.