Posts Tagged ‘herman melville’
Jonathan Lemalu, the famous New Zealand Maori bass baritone opera singer, plays Queequeg, one of the starring roles in Moby Dick. Picture: Tait Schmaal Source: the Advertiser
MOBY Dick has come from its world premiere in Dallas to Adelaide tonight, and with it Jonathan Lemalu.
As Queequeg the "savage cannibal" harpoonist, the New Zealander bass baritone cuts a powerful figure with his head and body bedecked in heavy tattoos.
He is playing the role in Dallas, Adelaide, San Francisco and San Diego, so he is wearing much of his stage make-up permanently, adding the tattoo work on his face and shaved head each night.
"it takes two hours to make me up, and that’s why I keep my body paint on, because it takes three hours if they have to do that as well," Lemalu said.
"People tend to walk around me on the streets of Adelaide."
The opera, based on the classic American novel by Herman Melville, is set aboard Captain Ahab’s ship. Lemalu spends much of his time on stage high in the rigging on a spectacular set that projects sea imagery on to a 15m-high wall shaped like a huge wave bearing down on the ship.
He said there was a lot of unaccustomed physical work for the cast and chorus in the opera, as they clamber up and down the wall and rigging. "It’s like a playground for us: we are hooked up with rock-climbing gear … like a theme park," he said.
"there is only one girl in the cast and she plays a boy, so there is a lot of bravado and machismo on the set."
Lemalu, who hails from Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, completed his law degree before realising he could make a living as a freelance opera performer, based in London. He is making his Adelaide debut.
"I have given up other work where I sing much more because this role speaks to me in a way. (Queequeg) is a very spiritual character.
"People have written of him as being the moral compass of the piece."
"I like the tattoos and physical transformation as well. it adds to the difference between reality and the stage."
The epic opera is a coup for State Opera of SA.