Fast five with Deborah Rogers

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Deborah Rogers is an Australian mezzo soprano with an impressive career across opera and musical theatre. She joins us for the mini-season of Trial by Jury in Christchurch next month.

You’ve worked with director Stuart Maunder before on a Gilbert & Sullivan production (The Mikado in Queensland). He’s a known G&S tragic – how does that translate to performances?

I have been fortunate to work with Stuart on G&S.  He is a G&S tragic but that doesn't even come close to describing Stuart's love of G&S.  He is a connoisseur, an obsessive over its nuance and subtlety as well as its relevance today.  That comes through in his direction and his approach to production.  There is never a dull moment in his G&S productions. 

You’ve performed with some of the cast before, including James and Natasha in Candide, which was another comedy. What can audiences look forward to from them?

Yes, I have been fortunate to take the stage with James and Natasha prior to Trial by Jury.  Aside from them both being exceptionally talented singers, they bring wonderfully giving and connected performances, to audiences and their fellow cast.   So much of their own personalities come out on stage so be sure to watch closely as they reveal some of the best parts of themselves through their respective characters.

The role you’re playing has traditionally been played by a male, but it’s changed to a female role for this production - how does this work?

Yes, and I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be playing this role.  When the piece was written in 1875 in England, the concept of learned, law-practising woman was not even a consideration even though in the USA, the first woman was admitted to the bar in the late 1860's.   The role itself is not gendered in the libretto text.  The role is simply called "Counsel for the Plaintiff".  Musically, however, it is written for a Baritone but taking a few voicing considerations into account, a mezzo-soprano or contralto can more than easily sing it.  Most composers write for the world they are in, as a comment on their environment, their society.  For so many classical composers, the world they wrote for no longer exists so it creates a space to challenge conventional role casting.

What are you most looking forward to as part of this production?

Well, I get to see Christchurch for one thing.  I am really excited to be working with this talented group of artists under the guidance of Stuart and of course, share the stage with the likes of the Christchurch Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus under the musical direction of Sharolyn Kimmorley.  I know this production well and I know how much of an impact it has when you take it off the theatre stage and into a contextual space.  It is sure to be something truly special and fun. 

Have you been to Christchurch before? What are you most looking forward to about your visit?

I have never been to Christchurch so I am really looking forward to it.  I would love to see the International Antarctic Centre and of course, the gardens.  I may even go punting on the Avon. 


Read more about Trial by Jury and book tickets now!

Gallery seats $60
Dock or Bench seats $100

Book through New Zealand Opera – 0800 696 737 or