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Semele Walk - Sydney Festival

Semele Walk
Jan 22nd 2013 | Alex Hardy
A sleek white catwalk cleaved the room, deliciously modern against the ornate wooden balustrades and magnificent pipe organ of the Town Hall.

Eyeballing the audience, members of the Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop stalked down the runway to take their place in the chamber orchestra. Their punky costumes set the scene as the runway came to life with a mechanical formation of strutting models in impossibly high heels. The Haute couture was breathtaking. Intricate patchworks of colour and texture hung and clung to the model's tiny frames as delicate fabrics billowed around them and corsets hugged their ribs. Their hair was bird's nests on top of their heads, adorned with luscious red and orange feathers. Their faces were painted white and expressionless. Beautiful, lifeless and robotic.

It worked perfectly as a representation of Semele's ambitious goal of achieving immortality, her playpen to flirt with Jupiter and her nightmare dungeon as she loses her grip on sanity.

The music was integral, switching from Handel's gorgeous cascades to ear-splitting dissonance. Jupiter's voice was surprisingly high even for a tenor, but he played the King Of The Gods with charisma and conviction. It was a surprise to discover that the choir were sitting right in and among the audience disguised as guests. Though an effective tactic, the sound lost some of its intensity; even the arias didn't thunder when they could've. A fault of the venue perhaps, but the show's only flaw. Overall an amazing experience, like no other.

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