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Brisbane Baroque: Hardheads seen to weep

Halfway through the nine-day Brisbane Baroque festival, it has become a blood sport as triumphant performances from unheralded artists have left half-hearted purveyors of the usual schtick licking their wounds and rescuing their dignity.

Bruiser-in-chief on day four was Brisbane-trained, Melbourne-based mezzosoprano Elizabeth Lewis, who from the moment she glided onstage as Queen of Carthage in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was every inch the regal presence, commanding all she surveyed.

In this semi-staged production with Erin Helyard and the Orchestra of the Antipodes once again outstanding, not even the characteristic kleptomania of the Brisbane City Hall’s rotunda — stealing one note from every three intended for the audience — could distract from a cast that rose to the challenge of having a genuine newborn star such as Lewis among them.

Sara Macliver was as beautiful as ever as Belinda, David Greco a vocal powerhouse as the cursed Aeneas, Louise Dorsman stunning as the Sorceress, and young Alexandra Oomens displayed real potential in three lesser roles.

Suffice to say that during Dido’s Lament hard-bitten arts types were seen to weep.

The hits of the evening were left to local heroes the Camerata of St John’s, which not only accompanied Cencic with real sensitivity, but ripped into Telemann, Gluck and Bach classics with authority and panache. Watch this space. This ensemble is going places.

With such a buzz around the place, don’t expect the festival to return to Hobart any time soon ...

Read the full review The Australian here ...

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

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