#SheReviews Opera Queensland Opening Night ‘The Sopranos’

April 1, 2022

Opera Queensland (OQ) opened its 2022 season with The Sopranos in the Concert Hall at Queensland Performing Art Centre (QPAC). Written by Sarah Holland-Batt and with dramaturg Jane Sheldon, they present a thunderous and powerful collection of historical complex female operatic tales drawing on moments taken from nineteen different operas. 

Sarah says I was drawn to explore how operatic heroines still find a way to express their free will and agency, even when trapped in desperate circumstances. But I also didn’t want to shy away from confronting the trauma female character’s experience either. 

Sarah was true to her word in this operatic story with its harrowing violence, representing women spanning 377 years, sung in five languages. Some of the earlier composers like Monteverdi and Purcell brought tragedy to the stage as did many of the works by Australian women composers such as Mary Finsterer and Peggy Polias. 

CEO & Artistic Director, Patrick Nolan said we felt such scope was necessary to begin to interrogate and celebrate the complexity of women’s contribution to the art form.   

English subtitles and live filming of the performers comfortably provide an understanding of each song. The Sopranos tells stories about real women, their tragic and unjust circumstances resonate throughout the production. 

There were times I wanted to sob for their sorrow and suffering that relentlessly tore into their souls. Their fragility was tested as our stalwart sopranos and mezzo-sopranos displayed brilliant coloratura.  

OQ presented in association with our renowned and brilliant Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) so it was my lucky night with a two-for-one prize, being a regular QSO concert attendee. 

Conductor Jessica Gethin escorted the audience through emotional stories, particularly throughout Act 1 where the female characters were subjected to traumatic inequalities almost unimaginable but as we all know, were real and forced. 

In Act 2 the trauma continued but the characters begin to question and challenge their circumstances. With souls worn to a thin thread, we felt a renewed strength of will, their voice to be recognised fighting centuries of layered barriers to crack the surface and give women hope. 

These are real women with real strength, a reminder for women in the 21st century, that moments of despair and helplessness can be fought and overcome with determination and sacrifice. 

But it wasn’t all about the story, our singers were superb. Their experienced vocals, tone, and passion were evident in every song sung by both the ten soloist sopranos and the baritones. 

A highlight for me was the OP Chorus of 43 singers, they were beautiful. Led by Chorus Master Narelle French, the sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, tenors, and basses blended like a soothing liniment.  

An indomitable performance indeed and for opera lovers seeking a cocktail that takes you on an emotionally tragic journey spiced with optimism, The Sopranos will indeed satisfy your taste with one powerful constant the singular, unearthly sound of the female voice



Tosca – “Vissi d’arte” – Dominique Fegan

L’incoronazione di Poppea – “Disprezzata regina” – Tania Ferris

Biographica – The Birth “In anno domini” – Leanne Kenneally

Lucia di Lammermoor – Mad Scene “O, giusto cielo” … “Il dolce suono” – Eva Kong, Chorus

Dido and Aeneas – Dido’s Lament “Thy hand, Belinda … When I am laid in earth” – Hayley Sugars

Dido and Aeneas – “On drooping wings” – Chorus 

Breaking the Waves – “Please don’t die, Jan” – Sofia Troncoso, Michael Honeyman, Chorus

Sappho – “My sleep is fragile like an eggshell is” – Amber Evans, Simon Lobelson

Fidelio – “Abscheulicher” – Eleanor Greenwood

Les dialogues des Carmélites – “Salve regina” – Amber Evans, Dominique Fegan, Tania Ferris, Hayley Sugars, Sofia Troncoso, Chorus


Commute – Dawn – Leanne Kenneally

Carmen – Seguidilla “Près des remparts de Séville” – Hayley Sugars

Samson et Dalila – “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” – Tania Ferris

Written on Skin – “Mouth – see it” – Eva Kong, Simon Lobelson

Turandot – “In questa reggia” – Eva Kong, Chorus 

Iphigénie en Tauride – “Patrie infortunée” – Chorus 

Nabucco – “Ah, qual suon … Deh, perdona” – Eleanor Greenwood, José Carbó

Die Zauberflöte – “Der Hölle Rache” – Katie Stenzel

Eugene Onegin – Final scene – Sarah Crane, Michael Honeyman

Madama Butterfly – Humming Chorus – Full company

Creative Team 

Concept Sarah Holland-Batt & Patrick Nolan, Written by Sarah Holland-Batt, Conductor Jessica Gethin,  Director Laura Hansford & Patrick Nolan,  Set Design Marg Horwell,  Costumes Karen Cochet & Bianca Bulley,  Lighting Christine Felmingham 

The two remaining performances are on Friday 1 April at 7 pm and Saturday 2 April 2022 at 2 pm. Complimentary pre-performance talks will be held before these productions.

For further insight into OP co-director of The Sopranos, Laura Hansford, click on the #SheSociety interview, #SheInspires link: https://shesociety.com.au/news/sheinspires-director-of-the-sopranos-laura-hansford/

A selection of OP 2022 productions to come: 

7 May-Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Josh Piterman & Guy Noble

18-27 May-Festival of Outback Opera

14-23 July-La Traviata

20-24 September-The Call & The Human Voice

For full information and program: www.oq.com.au  Phone: 136 246

#ThisIsOpera  #ThisIsTheSopranos  #OperaQueensland  @operaqueensland

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