A co-production with the legendary Italian Opera House La Scala, Opera Australia are bringing the stunning world of Ernani to Melbourne’s State Theatre.
A melodrama of grand proportions, Verdi’s Ernani follows the titular outlaw as he battles his toughest fight – a love quadrangle. Full of disguise, betrayal, and adventure, Ernani proves that love can conquer all, no matter how hard it may seem.
The story has endured the test of time, and now, 177 years after its premiere, it will be coming to life on the State Theatre Stage. The cast is led by Diego Torre as the brave Ernani and Natalie Aroyan as Elvira, with Baritone Vladimir Stoyanov as the King of Spain, and Alexander Vinogradov as Elvira’s Uncle.
Born in Mexico City, Diego Torre has been a leading tenor at Opera Australia for many years. His most celebrated roles include Radames, Turiddu, Canio, Calaf, Cavaradossi, Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rodolfo (La bohème), Gustavus (Un ballo in maschera), The Duke (Rigoletto), Gabriele Adorno (Simon Boccanegra), Rodolfo (Luisa Miller) and the title role in Don Carlo. Diego’s recent international engagements have included Dick Johnson (La fanciulla del West)in Mexico City, Canio for the Grand Théâtre de Genève and Calaf (Turandot) and Manrico (Il trovatore) for Teatro Regio di Torino.
With Ernani opening tonight at Arts Centre Melbourne’s lavish State Theatre, we had a chat with Diego about taking on the titular character.
Are you excited to be performing in a show in Melbourne this year?
Diego: Of course, it’s fantastic to be back in Melbourne – I missed going there last year! Performing in Melbourne is always very exciting as it’s a city where people appreciate all kind of arts. It is a cosmopolitan setting with amazing exhibitions in many different forms, so it’s great to bring our opera to be part of it. We always seem to have very sensible audiences here; they seem to come on the journey with the characters and give us great applause in the right moments. The one drawback can be the weather conditions, which are always a vocal challenge, but on the plus side it’s wonderful to feel that art spirit just by walking the streets.
Can you tell me a bit about what it means for you to do a co-production with La Scala? Did it change the rehearsal process for you?
Diego: I consider it a huge honour to be collaborating with such an elaborate production from such an important opera house like La Scala. But to be honest, I always give my best during rehearsals as well as performances, no matter where I am, so in that way, no it doesn’t change the rehearsal process. I learn the music first at home and then learn the movement once I’m with the director and the other cast members in the rehearsal room. It is my job to show up to every rehearsal as prepared as possible, ready to give it my all, and of course I am looking forward to giving my best in the performances of Ernani for Melbourne audiences.
Why do you think melodramas like Ernani are still relevant today?
Diego: Melodramas are a very good way to develop empathy due to the confrontations of very strong and emphatic emotions. Our own lives have episodes of drama and sometimes we can relieve those emotions through a piece of art and its expression. I hope our audience in Melbourne enjoys the experience of watching Ernani as much as we do in performing it.
The show is filled with lavish costumes and masks – do you have a favourite?
Diego: That’s right, all of the costumes are very beautiful. My favourite one, without a doubt, is the golden groom suit I wear towards the end of the opera. It was made especially for me and I love the special feeling I get when I wear it.
Why should audiences come to see Ernani?
Diego: It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience a live performance again after a very challenging time. It’s also not every day that we get to have a La Scala production in Australia. With an amazing production, beautiful costumes, first class cast and an unbelievable creative team, we look forward to welcoming Melbourne audiences to Ernani!
Opera Australia presents ERNANI, playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre until May 22nd.
For tickets and more information, please visit the Opera Australia website.