Sydney Hosts Wacky Vivienne Westwood-Inspired Opera

Sydney Hosts Wacky Vivienne Westwood-Inspired Opera
(Courtesy Sydney Festival)

Sydney’s Town Hall is set to play host to a fabulously eccentric reinvention of the Handel opera “Semele” as part of the 2013 Sydney Festival. Directed by Ludger Engels and conducted by Sweden’s Olof Boman, “Semele Walk” explores the connection between Handel’s dramatic opera and the exclusive designs of Vivienne Westwood Couture.

The heroine, Semele, is the prototype of 20th century punk. Her descent into madness is brought to life on a gleaming white runway adorned with pouting models in gold boots, silk crinolines and extravagant earrings. Jupiter appears in sequinned kilt and diamond-studded socks as befitting the King of the Gods.

Models in Westwood couture will strut between the performers as they rampage the entire length of the 30 metre gleaming white catwalk, all for the benefit of the audience sitting in traverse as befits any fashion show.

The models reflect the styling of the late Marie Antoinette with mini crinolines and dramatic hair and makeup imitations. The music is vibrant, varied and wild. Semele is played by outstanding soprano Aleksandra Zamojska while Semele’s lover Jupiter is sung by acclaimed Austrian countertenor Armin Gramer.

Westwood’s couture is from her 2011 Gold Label collection, “Get a Life”, which draws inspiration from the drastic effects of climate change and saving our planet Gaia – Westwood’s belief that the Earth functions as a living super-organism.

The narrative behind “Semele Walk” is the fight between the Dionysian and Appolinian System in human beings. It shows the results of today’s Dionysian (destructive excessive) society facing the destruction of its own. This is similar to what Westwood is reflecting in the couture costumes – climate change.

Semele Walk is a collaboration between Vivienne Westwood, Ludger Engels and the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen, Hannover, premiering at KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen in May 2011.  Four performances are scheduled for Sydney on January 11, 12, 14, 15 at 8pm. For more information visit the Sydney Festival website here