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Melbourne grads on stage in The Bear

Volume 6 Number 3 March 8 - April 12 2010

Victorian Opera’s March season of The Bear/Angelique features Melbourne graduates Jessica Aszodi and Theresa Borg. By Georgia Brooks.

This March, University of Melbourne graduates Jessica Aszodi and Theresa Borg will appear in Victorian Opera’s Double Bill of The Bear/Angelique. Starring as Popova and Angélique, Aszodi and Borg take to the stage at the Arts Centre Playhouse to perform these two rarely heard masterpieces from 10 – 20 March.

Playing the role of Popova in The Bear, is soprano Aszodi a graduate of the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM), and has recently taken part in Victorian Opera’s Artist Development Program. Since graduating, Aszodi has appeared as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Chorale and the Melbourne International Arts Festival, as well as appearing in Victorian Opera’s 2009 productions of Don Giovanni, Xerxes and Ariadne auf Naxos. A performer of great versatility, Aszodi is regularly seen performing opera, recital, oratorio, improvisation and chamber music around Melbourne, with a particular focus on contemporary classical music. This passion for contemporary composition saw Aszodi receive an Australia Council ‘Buzz’ Grant for her work commissioning and performing new Australian music. The talented soprano also directs the recently formed ensemble Aria Co., a group of emerging young vocalists who in 2010 will perform a series of concerts at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Melbourne soprano Theresa Borg is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. Over the course of her rich and varied career, Borg has performed extensively in musical theatre including performances as Christine and Cosette respectively in the Cameron Mackintosh productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, Jellylorum/Griddlebone in Cats for The Really Useful Group and Hope in Anything Goes! for The Production Company. On the operatic stage Theresa has sung for Victorian Opera, Oz Opera and Opera Australia, with highlights including Musetta in La bohéme, Peep Bo in The Mikado, Eliza cover for My Fair Lady, Zerbinetta in Ariadne Auf Naxos and The Queen of the Night for Victorian Opera’s Sing your Own Magic Flute. Appearing as the hysterical Angelique, Borg describes her character as a “very very cross and disappointed woman who finds an opportunity for adventure and it transforms her.”

Two early 20th century comedic operas, with wild and extreme women at their heart, William Walton’s The Bear and Jacques Ibert’s Angelique are entertaining one-act operas presenting extreme contrasts in their treatment of comedy. While it is often the case in presenting a double bill that a tragedy precedes a comedy, in The Bear/Angelique Victorian Opera has taken the opportunity to present two completely different sorts of comic styles – a black comedy, and a farce.

A dispute leads to a duel in Walton’s The Bear, a delicate comedy, the marvel of which, director Tayla Masel says, “is that it reveals itself slowly.” Based on Anton Chekov’s one-act play about a grieving widow, this caricature of love and promiscuity is peppered with affectionate parodies of Puccini, Strauss, Britten and Offenbach.

Jacques Ibert’s colourful and lively music portrays the sprightly and shrewish character, Angélique, who torments her husband Boniface until he attempts to free himself by hanging a “Wife for Sale” sign over his doorway. In contrast to The Bear, Angélique is a farce, filled with absurd and exaggerated comedy.

Borg and Aszodi are not the only University of Melbourne graduates among the cast of the double-bill. The Bear/ Angélique also features VCAM graduates Jacob Caine, Olivia Cranwell and Anna O’Byrne as well as Benjamin Namdarian, a graduate of Medicine from the University of Melbourne. VCAM graduates, Set Designer Adam Gardnir and Costume Designer Harriet Oxley also join forces to bring to life the eccentric worlds of Popova and Angélique.

Victorian Opera is offering Voice readers 20 per cent off tickets to The Bear/ Angélique. To take up this offer use the password ‘ENTICE’ by visiting or phoning
1300 182 183
or in person at the Arts Centre box office.

To watch a behind-the-scenes video about the production, including interviews with Jessica Aszodi, Theresa Borg and other members of the cast and creative team visit

Victorian Opera’s The Bear/Angelique The Arts Centre, Playhouse 10 – 20 March