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Australia's Helpmann Awards Name Winners

By Vivien Schweitzer
and Matthew Westphal
02 Aug 2006

The Australian entertainment industry has recognized the best of the country's performing arts in the past year with the sixth annual Helpmann Awards, presented at a ceremony on Monday (July 31) at Sydney's Lyric Theatre.

The Helpmanns were established in 2001 by Live Performance Australia (LPA) and modeled after the Tony Awards and the Olivier Awards. Prizes are given in categories including opera, classical music, musical theatre, dance, contemporary music and comedy.

Flight, Jonathan Dove's 1998 opera about a group of passengers stranded in an airport terminal, took the Best Opera honors with its production at this year's Adelaide Festival. Opera Australia's productions of Britten's Death in Venice and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress took two trophies each. (It may be worth noting that, of the six opera awards given, five were for works written and sung in English.)

Opera ruled the classical music category this year as well, with both prizes — Best Classical Concert and Best Performance in a Classical Concert — going to the closing night program of the 2005 Queensland Music Festival: an unstaged performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde starring Lisa Gasteen and John Treleaven, with Richard Mills conducting the Australian Youth Orchestra. When this performance was in the planning stages, many observers charged that a work as heavy as Tristan was "totally inappropriate for a youth orchestra to undertake." But The Australian's critic described the result as "a triumphant finale ... a cast that history may view as the definitive Tristan of the age. Certainly, it will go down in the annals of Australian music history."

The only dance program to take more than one Helpmann was Jirí, an evening of four works by choreographer Jirí Kylián performed by the Australian Ballet.

The prize for Best New Australian Work went to Devolution, a collaboration between Australian Dance Theatre and its director, Garry Stewart, and Canadian robotics artist Louis-Philippe Demers that appeared at the Adelaide and Sydney Festivals.


2006 HELPMANN AWARDS
Opera, Classical Music and Dance


Best Opera:
Flight - Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts 2006, Glynebourne Festival Opera and State Opera of South Australia

Best Male Performer in an Opera:
Philip Langridge as Aschenbach in Death in Venice - Opera Australia

Best Female Performer in an Opera:
Emma Matthews in the title role of Lakmé - Opera Australia

Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera:
Peter Coleman-Wright as the Traveller/Hotel Manager/Dionysus/etc. in
Death in Venice - Opera Australia

Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera:
Catherine Carby as Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress - Opera Australia

Best Direction of an Opera:
John Cox for The Rake's Progress - Opera Australia

Best Classical Concert Presentation:
Tristan und Isolde - Queensland Music Festival and the Australian Youth Orchestra

Best Performance in a Classical Concert:
Lisa Gasteen as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde - Queensland Music Festival and the Australian Youth Orchestra

Best Ballet or Dance Work:
Jirí - The Australian Ballet

Best Choreography in a Ballet or Dance Work:
Debra Batton and Mark Murphy for On the Case - Legs on the Wall (Sydney)

Best Male Dancer in a Ballet or Dance Work:
Daryl Brandwood in A Midsummer Night's Dream - West Australian Ballet

Best Female Dancer in a Ballet or Dance Work:
Lana Jones in Jirí - The Australian Ballet

Best New Australian Work:
Devolution by Garry Stewart and Louis-Philippe Demers -
Australian Dance Theatre, Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts 2006 and Sydney Festival




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