Traditionally the “merry month” in the northern hemisphere, May is very much the “busy month” here in Australia. The May edition of Limelight is proof of it.

The cover of Limelight's May 2024 issue

This month’s cover image features a production shot from Tosca, directed by Edward Dick for Opera North in the UK. Opera Australia presents the production in Melbourne this month and at the Sydney Opera House between June and August. Photo © James Glossop

It’s 100 years since Giacomo Puccini died after suffering a heart attack aged 65 in 1924. His music lives on however – and as strongly as it ever did, despite the various criticisms levelled at his work. With the centenary in mind, UK academic and renowned Puccini expert Alexandra Wilson reflects on what makes Puccini operas so special and the ways in which opera companies around the world are continuing to explore the composer’s legacy.

This month also heralds the return to Australian stages of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Sunset Boulevard, with Sarah Brightman starring as Norma Desmond. Limelight Editor Jo Litson talks to the superstar soprano about her 30-year hiatus from the musical theatre stage and what she’s doing to bring the iconic silent movie star to life. Litson also found time to chat with the irrepressible Australian performer Todd McKenney, who explains why he likes to maintain a workload (The Odd Couple, Wicked and a star turn on the upcoming BRAVO Cruise of Performing Arts) that would flatten most others.

In another of our major features this month, music writer Yvonne Frindle turns the spotlight on one of Australia’s most exuberant musical figures – Umberto Clerici, who conducted his first concert in 2018 and, just four years later, was appointed Chief Conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. In an in-depth conversation, Clerici reveals how his love of literature, philosophy and composition – and his desire to empower musicians – ignited his rapid rise to the podium.

Ever wondered what makes a child prodigy? Are they born or made? And why is the term such a loaded one? In a must-read feature, Shamistha de Soysa talks with former ‘prodigies’, pedagogues and artistic directors about how to teach and nurture musically gifted children and some of the pitfalls they face.

In our regular My Music column, Leanne Benjamin, the new Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet, shares her love for the piano and strong female artists – and reveals a surprising musical crush. And while we’re talking matters Queensland, Jansson J. Antmann takes you behind the scenes of Opera Queensland’s Festival of Outback Opera and its mission to change the way the artform is perceived. We also speak to Canberra International Music Festival Artistic Director Roland Peelman about his final year in the role and what he’s loved and learned from 10 years in the job.

In this month’s Soundings, Clive Paget’s On the Record includes a Frenchwoman’s resurrected Faust as Recording of the Month, alongside an opera-fest that includes Jonas Kaufmann’s Parsifal. For Cutting Edge, Limelight’s Maddy Briggs speaks to Brooklyn-based composer William Brittelle about his latest, genre-blind mini-album – one in which he stares down the apocalypse.

In Playing Up, we shine a light on the trumpet and one of its stars, the Norwegian virtuoso Tine Thing Helseth, while Guy Noble’s Soapbox comes to you from a small Indonesian island, where Noble found time and space to ponder the Muslim call to prayer and the ringing bells at Christian churches.

And, of course, we also have our in-depth news, reviews and listings sections with everything you need to know, see and hear for the month.

Subscribe to Limelight by Monday 15 April, 9am AEST to receive the print edition as soon as it’s available. By subscribing or renewing a subscription, you could win a holiday package for two people to attend the Australian Festival of Chamber Music this July. Learn more.

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