Where the fat lady sings, from Sydney to Tel Aviv



To 24 March, Sydney

See a bit more of the Sydney Opera House than its iconic exterior. Opera Australia is performing Leos Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen as part of its 2004 summer season. The story is a tale of sexual guilt and frustration among humans and animals alike, and explores themes of love, death and foolishness. Performances take place on 13, 16, 19 and 24 March, and prices range from A$50 (£21) to A$220 (£91). For information call 00 61 2 9250 7111 or visit www.sydneyoperahouse.com.


18 March-5 April, Barcelona

First staged at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 1848, also the year of the theatre's inauguration, Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth is returning once again as part of the theatre's 2004 season. Based on Shakespeare's play, the opera explores death and the supernatural. Performances of Macbeth take place daily (with the exception of 20, 23, 26, 29, and 31 March, and 1, 3 and 4 April) and will be performed in Italian with English surtitles (the translation appears above the stage). Prices range from €7.25 (£4.80) to €149 (£99.30). Other performances taking place this season, which ends on 29 July, are Haydn's Il Mondo della Luna, Wagner's Gotterdammerung and Handel's Giulio Cesare. For more information and to book tickets call 00 34 93 274 6411, or visit www.liceubarcelona.com.


To 7 May, New York

A new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni is currently showing as part of The Metropolitan Opera of New York's 2004 season. The opera, which is performed in Italian with English surtitles, is set in 17th-century Seville, and tells the story of the immoral lothario Don Giovanni, who tries to seduce a commendatore's daughter, but subsequently kills the commendatore in a duel. The Metropolitan Opera opened in 1884 between 39th and 40th Street on Broadway, but a second building, with better backstage facilities, opened in 1966 at the Lincoln Center near Broadway and 63rd Street. Performances of Don Giovanni take place during March, April and May; phone for a list of dates. Prices range from $25 (£13.50) to $295 (£160). Other productions taking place during the season include La Traviata, Die Frau ohne Schatten, L'Italiana in Algeri, Tosca, Rigoletto, Salome, Madame Butterfly and Nabucco. For more information and to book tickets call 00 1 212 362 6000, or visit www.metopera.org.


13-30 April, Paris

The Opéra Bastille is the newest of Paris's two opera venues. It is an impressive modern building designed by Carlos Ott and built in 1989 with a glass façade, located on the Place de la Bastille. L'Opéra National de Paris will be staging Jules Massenet's Manon here as part of the 2004 season. Manon is a five-act opera in French (with French surtitles), which tells the story of the young and beautiful Manon and her burgeoning, forbidden, love for the Chevalier des Grieux, The plot unfolds to reveal betrayal and lies which lead to tragedy. Other operas taking place this season, which ends on 16 July, include Verdi's Othello and La Traviata, Berlioz's Damnation of Faust and Mozart's The Magic Flute. Performances take place on 13, 18, 20, 24, 27 and 30 April and seats range from €10 (£6.70) to €114 (£76). For information call 00 33 14 461 5965, or visit www.opera-de-paris.fr.


11-27 May, Tel Aviv

Antonin Dvorak's opera Rusalka appears at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre as part of the 2004 Israeli Opera season, which ends on 31 July. The Israeli Opera began life as the Palestine Opera, formed in 1923, and which first performed at the Eden Cinema in Tel Aviv. The company was a great success but fell into financial difficulties, and had to disband for a period, later becoming the Palestine Folk Opera in 1941. Finally the New Israeli Opera found a permanent home in 1994, at the Tel Aviv Peforming Arts Centre, where performances take place today. Rusalka unfolds over three acts, and is sung in Czech with English surtitles. The story is of Rusalka, daughter of the Spirit of the Lake, who falls in love with a prince and is granted human form so that she can marry her lover, provided that she never speaks to him. Her silence proves too much for the prince, and the story ends in tragic circumstances. Performances take place daily with the exception of 12, 16, 20 and 25 May. Seats range from NIS155 (£18.75) to NIS380 (£45.95). Other productions this season include Giacomo Puccini's Tosca and La Fanciulla del West, and Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow. For more information and to book tickets call 00 972 3692 7777, or visit www.israel-opera.co.il.


1-12 May, Vancouver

Verdi's La Traviata is being performed as part of the Vancouver Opera 2004 season, which runs until 12 May. Vancouver Opera performs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, which was built in 1959 and captures the style of the 1950s with a very wide, flat auditorium. The three-act tragedy of La Traviata will be performed in Italian with English surtitles. The story, which is set in 19th-century Paris, focuses on the courtesan Violetta Valery, who falls for an admirer called Alfredo Germont and relinquishes her life of immoral pleasure. But Germont's father disapproves of the liaison and the story ends in tragedy. Performances take place on 1, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 May and cost between C$25 (£10) and C$390 (£157). Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera will also be performed this season in March. Information: 001 604 683 0222; www.vanopera.bc.ca.