Death by Soprano at Riverside Theatres

Music correspondant Hamish spoke with Isabel Hertaeg this week ahead of her performance of Death by Soprano at Riverside Theatres. Described as being a fun show for the opera curious, this original cabaret is sure to blow the roof off with great music and big songs. Have a read all about it below:

What should any audience members coming to see Death by Soprano expect? Who should see it?

Death By Soprano is a show that pokes fun at the silliness of opera stories, but it does so with a great love for the music of opera.

There’s a lot of playfulness around the bizarre and silly ways sopranos can be killed in opera, from avalanche to poisoned sandwich to strangulation with a ponytail. We have a lot of fun playing with slapstick and prop humour but at the centre of the show is the extraordinary music which is the heart of opera.

Does the audience need to be familiar with particular operatic heroines or is this a show for opera new-be’s as well?

Not at all! I describe it as a great show for the ‘opera-curious’.  If you think you might enjoy going to the opera but find the thought of a 6-hour long production in a foreign language a bit much then this is a great little tasting plate. It’s fun; it’s light-hearted and its full of beautiful music.

It’s also a great show for the seasoned operaphile.  You might hear pieces from operas rarely staged in Australia and there are some extra jokes in the show just for you.

How did you create the show? When did you first have the idea for the show and how difficult was it to turn that initial idea into a fully formed cabaret?

I was compelled by the extraordinary number of women who are killed in opera and all the different and bizarre ways in which they die, so I started making a list. I realised I had the potential to create a really fun show with a lot of slapstick and dark-clowning.

Who is your favourite of these heroines to portray? What was your process in selecting and creating them?

I love to sing Puccini. His music is gorgeous and really suits my voice.

























How has the show matured over the years? Have you adapted any of the humour or changed any of the repertoire?

The most significant change is the way we now relate the show to the death of women in Australia. 48 women have been murdered in domestic violence settings already this year. It’s an important issue which is not being addressed and I’m using the show as a platform to talk about it.

What is your favourite song from the cabaret to perform? Why?

The final aria form Madam butterfly features in the show. I just love it. Such a powerful piece of music!

What is one thing you have learnt from creating this cabaret?

The show is such an enormous sing! When I wrote it I didn’t have the stamina to get through it. It’s been a fantastic show to grow into. I’ve really developed my vocal fitness.

I’ve also learned that if someone drops a croissant on your head from a theatre with a 6m clearance it can give you a surprisingly good whack! But you’ll have to come to the show to see that.


Favourite production you have ever seen?

Malthouse Theatre’s production of Optimism, Directed by Michael Kantor.  

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

The Maldives


Dream role to perform?

Any role by Puccini


Plays, musicals or operas?

So many! I love Shakespeare, I loved seeing Book of Mormon, I haven’t seen the Priscilla musical yet but it’s on my list.


A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

I love my garden.


What’s next for you after this show?

I’m touring with a fabulous circus show called Rouge! That’s going to keep me very busy next year.

Tickets are available here today. The season is strictly limited so book early.

Isabel Hertaeg

Death by Soprano

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