Max Emanuel Cenčić

A wonderful pairing: an ensemble of first rate local professional musicians and an experienced, extraordinarily gifted performer.
Max Emanuel Cenčić

M. E. Cencic Photo by Laidig via

The Brisbane Baroque Festival promised much, and so far is delivering even more. Max Emanuel Cenčić, the latest singing sensation to explode in the world of counter tenor voices is just as extraordinary and virtuosic as the publicity would have us believe. The Croatian born singer is currently based in Austria, but his current touring schedule barely leaves him time to touch base as he travels the world performing recitals and operas, as well as directing and recording.

For his sole appearance at the festival, Cenčić was accompanied by the Camerata of John’s, Queensland’s chamber orchestra, led by violinist Brendan Joyce. This joyful ensemble opened the program with Locatelli’s 1735 “Theatrical Introduction” Op 4 No 5 in D Major, a delicious confection of counterpoint and melody, fire and ice.

As well as the charming Water Music by Georg Philipp Telemann (1767) and Bach’s achingly lovely Air from Orchestral Suite III in D Major (c.1730), the Camerata performed a spectacular version of Gluck’s Dance of the Furies, from Orfée et Euridice (1774).

Cenčić performed a number of arias by Johann A. Hasse, a prolific German composer who began his musical career as a singer, and who was highly regarded in his lifetime across Europe, largely as a result of his skill in writing astonishingly lyrical melodies for the voice. Cenčić opened his recital with the aria Notte Amica, oblio de mali. from the oratorio Il cantico de' tre fanciulli (1734). The purity and richness of his voice was evident from the opening notes, but as the evening progressed he revealed the sheer heights of virtuosity for which he is justly acclaimed.

He has recently turned his hand to directing, and his production of Hasse’s opera Siroe re di Persia is currently making the rounds of the opera houses of Europe, with a performance scheduled in Budapest this Friday 18th April. The title role, originally sung in 1733 by the great castrato singer, Farinelli, is undertaken by Cenčić himself, and those of us in the QPAC Concert Hall on Sunday evening were treated to a taste of the power of his acting ability as well as his superb musicianship and vocal dexterity.

This was a wonderful pairing, an ensemble of first rate local professional musicians and an experienced, extraordinarily gifted performer on the world stage. The Camerata of St John’s performs later this month in Toowoomba and Brisbane as part of the Anzac commemoration program. Hopefully it will not be too long before Max Emanuel Cenčić returns to Australia. The Brisbane Baroque Festival is to be congratulated on what is proving to be a stunning program. It is sad that Hobart has lost its highly regarded Baroque Festival, but their loss is definitely Brisbane’s gain.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Max Emanuel Cenčić with the Camerata of St John’s
Orchestra Leader: Brendan Joyce
QPAC Concert Hall

12 April

Brisbane Baroque
10-18 April 2015​

Flloyd Kennedy

Monday 13 April, 2015

About the author

Flloyd Kennedy is an Australian actor, writer, director, voice and acting coach. She was founding artistic director of Golden Age Theatre (Glasgow), and has published critiques of performance for The Stage & Television Today, The Herald, The Scotsman, The Daily Record and Paisley Gazette. Since returning to Brisbane she works with independent theatre and film companies, and has also lectured in voice at QUT, Uni of Otago (Dunedin NZ), Rutgers (NJ) and ASU (Phoenix AZ). Flloyd's private practice is Being in Voice, and she is artistic director of Thunder's Mouth Theatre. She blogs about all things voice and theatre at and