”'Madeline' is bigger than self.Douglas McNicolDirector - Madeline Lee 2019
Multiple award winner, Douglas McNicol, best known as a dramatic baritone, having worked with all the major opera companies and orchestras in Australasia since 1981, first worked in theatre as a Stage Manager at the Scott Theatre.
Since one of his earliest theatrical experiences, in the audience as an infant at the premier season of Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’ – London’s West End, he has been obsessed with theatre, both managed and spontaneous.
Studying a drama major in Douglas’ Education degree at Flinders University included classes in performance, theatre studies, mime and movement. Tutors included Ted Caddick, Mem Fox, John Trinder and John Edmund. Observational study has continued while working with directors including Michael Beauchamp, Michael Blakemore, Tito Capobianco, Gale Edwards, Colin George, Elrik Hooper, Ian Judge, Jean-Pierre Mignon, Robyn Nevin and Simon Phillips.
His direction of State Opera’s 2017 Gianni Schicchi, in which he also sang the title role, proved to be an oasis in a desert of uncertainty as it was digested with rapturous satisfaction by audience and critic alike.
Douglas is particularly delighted to direct Madeline Lee, after being honoured to perform the role of ‘The Lieutenant’ in its premier season (Opera Australia 2004).
Douglas gives us a little further insight into his direction of Madeline Lee.
Visiting ‘Madeline Lee’ from a director’s perspective expands an inarticulate sensorial vocabulary through her variety of experiential dimensions.
As the Lieutenant ‘I made the team’ in a ‘boys own’ adventure, enjoying harmony, tone and rhythmic melody inside the dissonance of individuals. United as fellows seeking liberty in war, camaraderie dissolved personality flaws and irritations. We touched our infant like egos which when marooned, enveloped all and inflated to a size beyond the cosmos.
‘Madeline’, is bigger than self. From isolation of the soul, hope, terror, oppression, repression, guilt, resentment and finally, relief or resurrection, do we empathise with the traumatised? What, who and how do we forgive? Can we? Need we? Am I allowed to be?
Some may find satisfaction in the cerebral journey alone. The ensembles are as rich as any in opera yet approachable to all who allow themselves the possibility.
No lectures…just enquiry.
“The climactic scene is real edge-of-the-seat stuff as only a flight on a blazing aircraft can be, but it is also more than this, drawing together psychological threads in a vivid moment of truth…. Haddock’s music is soaring, rhapsodic, intuitively reaching for a known vocabulary of expressive symbols - a soaring line, a chorale, a terse Debussian block of woodwind complexity. It maintained continuity effectively… a strange, strong statement, built on sound operatic understanding by a promising new operatic talent.”Peter McCallumSydney Morning Herald 12 October 2004
“If anyone tells you that opera is an irrelevant, obsolete art form with no place in contemporary culture, don’t waste time arguing – just send them to see MADELINE LEE. …Composer and librettist John Haddock with the help of Michael Campbell, has fashioned a compelling and haunting work about the power of memory and how it affects our lives. Haddock and Campbell’s lyrical and elegiac libretto is so good that, at times, it rises to the level of poetry. Haddock’s music is …capably written and his grasp of orchestration assured, and he colours the music with variety and imagination.Murray BlackThe Australian 15 October 2004
Madeline Lee is an important achievement in Australian Opera and deserves to become a regular feature in the operatic repertory.”
“An opera based on a little-known telemovie might not sound like it could measure up to any great artistic standards, but John Haddock’s collaboration with Michael Campbell has yielded some stunning results. Haddock’s score weaves a powerful emotional spell, using modern dissonance only when it suits the mood. He also employs soaring four-part harmonies and introduces orchestral colours evocative of the music of the 1940s. New operas are a rare thing in Australia and this riveting and powerful opera is a gem.”Troy LennonDaily Telegraph 18 October 2004
“Madeline Lee is one of those rare operas where music, drama and emotion synthesize into moments that feel incredibly immediate and real…a truly riveting piece.”Joyce ChauVibewire. Artswire reviews 19 October