As tenor Markus Brutscher had just arrived in Australia ahead of his starring role in the Brandenburg Orchestra’s new opera L’Orfeo, the Bavarian-born cad was eager to wax lyrical to the Star Observer about his first visit down under, some 25 years ago.
“I remember when I came the first time, hanging out on Oxford St at 20 years old, and everybody was watching the Golden Girls – it’s all they’d talk about,” he chuckled.
“I had a fantastic time – fell in love with a Kiwi. I wish I could meet him again… maybe we could find him? His name was Drew and he was a hairdresser. He was fucking cute. We couldn’t understand a word the other one was saying but it didn’t matter,” he sighed.
Brutscher admitted he wouldn’t be spending as much time partying on this trip.
“Clubbing is not my scene any more, I’m 46. Actually, don’t mention that – say 39! Older than 40 and they treat you like grandpa.”
The – ahem – 39-year-old opera veteran has been handpicked by Brandenburg’s artistic director Paul Dyer, who said he’d assembled his ‘dream cast’ for what is the company’s first-ever opera. Brutscher play the titular role of Orpheus, who follows his true love Eurydice into the underworld after her death.
“I’m absolutely flattered, of course. I feel world famous,” he joked of Dyer’s special request that he lead the production.
“I just enjoy very much working with Paul. They all treat me very well here and they’re very special people at Brandenburg, so it’s always a pleasure to come back.”
First staged 405 years ago, L’Orfeo is one of the first operas ever written and is the oldest still performed today. It’s based on an ancient Greek myth of the poet Orpheus and his beautiful young lover Eurydice. Tragedy strikes on their wedding day when Eurydice dies after being bitten by a poisonous snake. Driven mad with grief, Orpheus descends into the Underworld, desperate to rescue his lost love.
Four centuries on, does Brutscher think the ancient tale will hold the interest of modern audiences?
“Absolutely, of course! The language is ancient Italian, so it’s a very colourful language, and the music is very colourful as well. It’s a very touching story.”
And while the role of Orpheus is traditionally sung by a baritone rather than a tenor, Brutscher described himself as a “tenor with low notes” and said he felt very comfortable with it.
“The only thing that’s making me nervous is doing it by heart – oh god! There’s about five pages there that I’ve got to learn that’s just five pages of suffering and pain. Suffer, suffer, suffer. Luckily I can just tap into some experiences I’ve had on the gay scene,” he quipped.
INFO: Orpheus plays Brisbane Festival, Sydney and Melbourne from September 13-26. Tour dates at www.brandenburg.com.au