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Arias & Odes

What do the movies Die Hard, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, and Dead Poets Society have in common? Not only are they all classics, but they feature Beethoven’s masterpiece, the Ode to Joy chorus from his iconic Ninth Symphony. 

By Kate Conway

This month Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is joined by Darwin Chorale for their 2023 season finale concert to bring the house down with the soaring, triumphant work. 

The program begins with a handpicked selection of arias – stand-alone pieces for one voice – performed by talented guest vocalists. DSO is joined by celebrated Australian soprano Emma Matthews, mezzo Ruth Burke, tenor Jacob Correia, and baritone Benjamin Del Borrello. 

Performing Mozart’s The Abduction from Seraglio, Bizet’s Pearl Fishers, Verdi’s Rigoletto Quartet, and more, DSO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Jon Tooby says the varied line-up showcases the best of the opera world. 

“The first half of the program is celebrating opera stars, and we have some incredible singers coming. So much of the opera world is full of joy and these pieces are all just stunning opera highlights.” 

Adapted from Friedrich Schiller's 1785 poem An Die Freude, which translates to ‘to (the) joy’ in German, Beethoven was said to be so taken by the message of peace in the poem, he was driven to set the text to music, a move that was previously unheard of resulting in the ground-breaking musical composition. 

“It was a revolutionary piece in its day, there was never an orchestra so big. I think it was the first time in a symphony a triangle had been used, which was bizarre, and also the contra bassoon which was an unusual instrument at the time,” Tooby says. 

One of Beethoven’s most recognisable works, second only to his Fifth Symphony, Ode to Joy is a timeless anthem that’s been used as a beacon for peace, protest and progress for decades. Featuring a rousing chorus that personifies the joy of humanity, the uplifting and festive performance tops off an incredible year for DSO. 

“It’s been tremendous. The orchestra has gone from strength to strength. It’s exciting to see the orchestra grow in membership. That we can take on these difficult works is really encouraging,” Tooby says. 

Combining the full might of DSO with the soaring voices of the Darwin Chorale, the evening is set to be a biggie. 

“It’s a real celebration, if people have never come to a classical concert this one will blow their mind. It’s one of the things we try to do with DSO, we don’t want to dumb it down, but we want to make it accessible,” Tooby says. 

“In terms of the actual music itself, the music we present is always absolutely top shelf. We go a long way to try and give people a really good experience, and this one is absolutely super dooper.”

For an unmissable evening of operatic talent and a showcase of one of the most iconic works in classical music, round up the family and end the year on a high note with DSO. 

Odes to Joy
WHEN SAT 25 NOV | 7.30PM
COST $22-$65

Photos: Tim Nicol

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