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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Todd

Melbourne and Monteverdi. Repatriation and rococo. I've relocated back to Australia and there are some exciting projects coming up!

After six years away in Europe and Asia, it is a strange and fragile joy to return to Melbourne – the city I called home for most of my life. My deep sense of familiarity with this beautiful city is overlaid with fringes of noticeable difference that make my walks through town a kind of disquieting comfort.

But Melbourne is as alive and vibrant as ever. Passionate, independent artists are everywhere and the flyers for their various projects line the cafes and bollards. This abundance of courage and self-driven spirit makes for a stunning diversity of shows. and makes me so excited to be diving back into the milieu!

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Poppea Sabina

To that end, I'm thrilled to announce that I will be performing the role of Nero in Yarra Valley Opera Festival’s production of Monteverdi’s Poppea in October. Gale Edwards AM will direct what promises to be a gritty and hard-hitting look at this ancient Roman story of power, excess, manipulation and lust. Forest Collective’s artistic director Evan Lawson will conduct Monteverdi’s emotionally raw, yet achingly refined score. I am looking forward to the task of navigating the unnerving juxtaposition of the music’s beauty with the brutality of the opera’s events. The road to the ecstatically beautiful final duet pur ti miro is paved with the bodies of those who stood in their way.

I am particularly excited to be working alongside the wonderful soprano Cristina Russo in the title role of Poppea. Cristina and I are old mates, having studied together at the Melbourne Uni Conservatorium. She is now an international award winning artist in both opera and film, but my first ever paid gig as a soloist was alongside her in a Heidelberg Choral Society tour of Messiah through western Victoria and South Australia. To return home and share a (pastoral) stage with her once again is a real thrill!

"What an artist dies in me!" - Emperor Nero

Poppea will be performed on October 19 and 26.

The Yarra Valley Opera Festival is presented by Gertrude Opera, and takes place at the stunning Olinda Yarra estate in Yering, with its picturesque grounds and 19th Century Queen Anne homestead. The festival will include a number of other operas and concerts, including Verdi’s Macbeth and the Australian premiere of Jonathon Dove’s runaway success The Enchanted Pig.


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