Valerie Wilder, right.

Valerie Wilder, right. Photo: Justin McManus

The Australian Ballet's executive director, Valerie Wilder, has announced she is leaving the company next June, at the end of her five-year contract. This follows Opera Australia's announcement chief executive Adrian Collette is leaving after 16 years for an executive role at Melbourne University. Wilder's departure means the company's artistic director since 2001, David McAllister, will likely be working with his fourth administrative partner when her successor is appointed. Wilder (pictured right), also a former dancer and artistic director, joined the AB in 2008 from Boston Ballet. She has helped the company weather the economic downturn and, with McAllister, led the company into its 50th anniversary season this year.

 

MACK'S BACK
The Berliner Ensemble was established in East Germany in 1949 with the help of playwright Bertolt Brecht. Now a renowned member of Germany's cultural scene, the company is bringing its production of Brecht's Threepenny Opera to the Perth International Arts Festival. Directed by Robert Wilson, it was first staged in 2007 and toured last year to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Wilson was last at the festival 12 years ago with Strindberg's A Dream Play by the Stockholm City Theatre. Threepenny Opera will land in WA as part of Jonathan Holloway's second Perth Festival next February. Other shows announced ahead of the full program launch next month include an evening with Canadian author Margaret Atwood, outdoor spectacle La Marea and Melbourne musical duo Dead Can Dance's first national tour in 20 years.

Normie Rowe as Harold Holt.

Normie Rowe as Harold Holt.

 

ROWE'S WAR
The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, is the subject and star of a new musical that will open at Scotch College, Hawthorn, next month. Rowe will star in the musical Normie, playing Harold Holt, the prime minister who oversaw Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach in December 1967. Rowe, 65, who scored a double-sided hit with Que Sera Sera and Shakin' All Over, was at the height of his popularity when he was drafted for military service in Vietnam in late 1967. When he completed his tour of duty and tried to resume his singing career, he found times had changed. The show will have a cast of 28, with Julian Campobasso playing the part of Rowe. There are no plans at present to stage it elsewhere.

 

OPERA'S GREATEST HITS
Tickets are now on sale for a tour next April by Moscow's Novaya Opera presenting Operamania, a greatest-hits package from works by such composers as Puccini, Mozart, Bizet, Verdi, Tchaikovsky and Rossini. The production at Hamer Hall on April 19-21 features 10 soloists, four dancers and a 44-piece orchestra conducted by the company's resident stage director, Valery Raku. Novaya Opera soloists and orchestra have toured Europe and Asia. They will be in Melbourne as part of a national tour to all mainland state capitals, as well as Newcastle. Arias will come from the most loved operas such as Carmen, Tosca, The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto and The Pearl Fishers. Book at Arts Centre Melbourne.

- ROBIN USHER