Mozart opera “Don Giovanni

Published on 06 June 2018

Opera how it used to be: that’s the promise held out with the announcement of a one-off performance in Tarnagulla this month celebrating a colonial-era tradition in musical entertainment.

Melbourne-based GBD Productions has booked the Victoria Theatre for Saturday 30 June to present Mozart’s Don Giovanni – as the public in the days of Queen Victoria would have watched it.

Under the banner of “Mr Lyster’s Touring Grand Opera”, nine singers and a pianist will pay tribute to one of the great touring companies of Australia’s gold rush years.

Dublin-born William Lyster (1828-1880) was a musical entrepreneur of renown, forming his first opera troupe in 1857 and subsequently leading tours throughout the Australian colonies and into the United States and New Zealand.

Lyster was principally based in Melbourne, but did undertake a tour of Victorian country towns with his company in 1872.

The post of narrator will be filled by Dunolly’s Rachel Buckley, who has reinvigorated the town’s historic Goldfields Junction Hotel as a bed and breakfast business and recital centre for classical music.

Company founder Jamie Moffat said GBD Productions took shape in Melbourne last year and had performed a number of concerts and recitals since.

“This will be the first tour we’ve done,” Mr Moffat said.

“There’s so much going on in Melbourne it can sometimes be hard to gather an audience, but the regions aren’t particularly well served in terms of classical music.

“In colonial times, they used to have these small companies that would go from town to town and stage grand opera, albeit on a fairly small scale.

“The Victoria Theatre, of course, is a survivor of that era and we are going to perform the work very much in the style of that period, as a moral fable, with new costumes modelled on those of Lyster’s day.

“Visiting the theatre, there was a real sense of following in the footsteps of many others who had trodden those boards.  It’s so authentic.

“For me, there’s something that feels very right about Tarnagulla.”

The show will be repeated in Warrnambool on 14 July and Geelong on 21 July.

“If this works, I hope we might come back next year with another production,” Mr Moffat said.

The performance is planned for 2pm. Tickets at $25 can be purchased at the door or booked on or by calling 0410 890 388.

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