Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre

1 – 11 December

Here comes Sir John, wide of girth, broad of humour and bold in his desires. See this ruddy-nosed knight in all his grubby magnificence, ready to revel in Verdi’s glorious score.

Here come some coney-catching rascals, fond of a tankard of beer. Here come two merry wives with keen wits and cunning plans. And here come the young folk, true of heart and fair of song.

Who will look after this colourful mess of characters? Fear not, they are in good hands, for Verdi, the master dramatist, will out-Shakespeare Shakespeare in this late, great comedy. Don't forget: he who laughs last, laughs longest.

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Arts Centre Melbourne, The State Theatre

19 November – 12 December

Four characters, four spectacular voices, and a fast-moving plot: this new production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale is as fresh and zingy as a lemon gelato.

Respectable man of a certain age seeks young lady for companionship and maybe more. Must like stamp collecting…

Tall, handsome 20-something, ready for romance. Dream girl enjoys riding scooters and drinking cappucinos.

Innocent young lass, loves to walk and read, ideally hoping to meet someone who can keep her in style.

Young professional, medically trained, looking for business partner with a view to making a motza.

This production is full of surprises. There are the grand hissy-fits of Don Pasquale’s new wife – played to the max by singer and comedienne Rachelle Durkin. Then there are the little details – an over zealous footman, a snoozing gangster, a teddy-bear in the luggage. It all adds up to a fast-moving, laugh-a-minute night in the theatre, powered by Donizetti's zippy score.

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Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre

13 – 30 November

Calpurnia Descending sees one of the country’s most fabulous divas, Paul Capsis, in the role of a lifetime. Enter Beverly Dumont. Once a major star alongside Bette Davis and Elizabeth Taylor – this dame could dazzle. But those days are through. This has-been is now a recluse, hooked on hooch and limping toward obscurity as the curtain falls for good. When from the wings comes a not-so-naive ingénue by the name of Violet St Clair, with cheekbones that could cut glass and a body made for sin.

Together they collude on a Broadway hit to resurrect Dumont’s career, but both women are soon caught in a world of paranoia, scandal and remorseless ambition.

Fresh from a sell-out Sydney season, this uproarious and utterly unmissable spectacle from Sisters Grimm ignites a backstage Battle Royale.