Lakmé, Delibes greatest opera, is performed by Opera Australia in all its oriental glory. Starring the exquisite coloratura soprano Emma Matthews as the innocent girl priestess Lakmé, and superb tenor Aldo Di Toro as the love-struck Gerald, the story tackles religion and cross-cultural love against a backdrop of British rule in India in the mid-19th century.
French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak brings out the full depth of the lush, dramatic score, with familiar high points being the beautiful renditions of the well-known Flower duet and Bell Song. Dominica Matthews adds her rich voice as Mallika and Stephen Bennett is darkly dominating as Brahmin priest Nilakantha, Lakmés father, while Roxane Hislop is a consumate Mistress Bentson. Set and costume designs by Mark Thompson fill the stage with rich colour, atmosphere and exoticism, complemented by Nigel Levings warm lighting. This restudied production, originally conceived by Adam Cook, is skilfully directed by Roger Hodgman.