Debbie Kruger
January 1992


A three-day whirlwind visit to Sydney early last year was Tim Albery's only experience of Australia before he arrived for rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro, which he directs for the Australian Opera at the Sydney Opera House this month. Bringing over his own creative team from England, including his wife, choreographer Patti Powell, and designer Antony McDonald, Albery certainly wasn't keen to "Australianise" the Mozart classic.

Albery admits Figaro has never been his favourite Mozart opera. "Great works are hard to do. They can be unapproachable because they are too perfect." But having directed La Finta Giardinera and Don Giovanni for England's Opera North, the invitation to direct another Mozart, particularly in a faraway location, was enticing. It's been a circuitous route to such an iconic task. Although he was born into a famous West End theatrical family, Albery's penchant was for experimental theatre, at venues such as London's Institute for Contemporary Art. "The funding collapse in the early eighties ended the sort of work we were doing in the theatre."

The concentration on opera for the past five years was not deliberate, but Albery says he prefers opera singers to actors. "They're less self obsessed." He approaches this "unapproachable" opera with an open mind. "Like any classic, you don't approach it irreverently or iconoclastically. You just listen and have your own response to it. The way we see it will be different, but I'm interested in authentic responses to the material, not being provocative." Debbie Kruger

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