There is something thrilling about learning a new work. These days it is so easy for us as performers to learn our music simply by finding recordings and YouTube videos of famous opera singers. Whilst it is great to listen to these stars, and I am incredibly grateful to be able to have these wonderful performers so readily available, the rush to YouTube quite often leads to imitation. Although imitation might be a high form of flattery, it is not a recommended form of creativity.
As a part of our final months at WAAPA, the Classical Voice Post Grads take the Roundhouse Theatre stage and are given the opportunity to perform one more show as apart of our time at this prestigious academy. Every year, this final slot for students offers something new and exciting for WAAPA audiences. Last year saw the world premiere of Melba!, a show about Australia’s iconic star. This year we bring to life the ridiculous world of Guy Noble’s new show, Opera! The Opera.
Opera! The Opera tells the story of Brian, an accountant and reluctant opera goer, who is forced to go see Teddy Tahu Rhodes in Don Giovanni with his wife. Before entering Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre, Brian falls down a drain and finds himself sucked into the crazy and absurd ‘Opera World’. He is pursued, helped, and aggravated by opera’s most beloved and famous characters as he tries to find his way back to his wife. This new show combines opera classics by the likes of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet and more to create a ‘jukebox opera’.
Our first workshop was spent with a lot of coffee being bought, many of it being snorted, and a little bit of singing through laughter. We had a great time listening to Guy’s ideas and his show so far, and by the end of this workshop week we had gained enough courage to begin making suggestions ourselves. What is so great about creating a new show is the ability to tweak things and build on them in a way no one has before. Whilst some of our suggestions may not have been particularly successful or helpful, Guy now knew each singer’s capabilities and proceeded to tailor and sew his new work for each performer. From a tenor who could play flute to a guitar-playing Duke, the story and its ridiculousness began to unfold further to reflect the talents and personalities of the Post Grads.
A few months later, we received our full scores and it was time to take the leap of faith! At this point, we were lost in our production of Britten’s suppressed and contained world of Albert Herring. We closed Albert on the Saturday and on the Monday, took the giant jump into the world of Opera! The Opera, saying farewell to a society of high morals and hello to a world where anything was possible… and with Brendan Hanson at the head of the ship, who knows what would happen?!
We are all incredibly grateful for this opportunity to perform this wonderful new work by the brilliant Guy Noble. Not only has it given us a chance to perform something new and exciting, but it has been a bittersweet ending to our time as students at WAAPA. Opera! The Opera has been a chance for us to work with our lecturers David Wickham and Brendan Hanson one final time before we graduate. After also working on Albert Herring with us, we are sure David Wickham will be glad to see the back of us… But his patience, hard work (and ability to play the entire orchestral score of Ride of the Valkyries on the piano!) has been incredibly inspiring and an essential rock and core to our show. WAAPA’s Classical Voice program would be a loss without this incredibly talented man, who never allows us to rest on our laurels. Knowing our strengths and our weaknesses, Brendan Hanson does not let us go a day without pushing us to our limits and asking 120% of us. Our Director, Role Prep Teacher, and Acting Coach, we would all look like dumb fish on stage (We sometimes still do… Much to Brendan’s disgust!) with out him. He makes us look good… And what performer would complain about that?
Lastly, I can’t finish this blog without thanking Guy Noble, for trusting us not to wreck his baby… and to Patricia Price; our head of department. Patricia’s passion for this wonderful art form and her students is incredibly inspiring and I do not know what we would do without her. She works and fights so hard for all of the Classical Voice students at WAAPA and offers us opportunities we could never imagine! I feel incredibly grateful to have begun my journey with Patricia as a mentor and guide into the world of opera… Before we continue to get mushy, it is now time to lead YOU into this wonderful art form!
Whether you love, hate or don’t know opera, Opera! The Opera is set to be a great night out in theatre. It will make you laugh, cry from laughing, and answer questions you didn’t know you wanted answered. What would happen if life were an opera? Which characters would be friend and which would be foe? What would happen if the two most promiscuous characters in opera met and attempted to seduce each other? Are Mozart servants particularly helpful? Is Opera still important in today’s society? Only one way to find out – Come see our show!
Opera! The Opera runs from the 14th-17th December at the Roundhouse Theatre at WAAPA. Tickets can be bought from the WAAPA website OR call 9370 6636 – but quick! They’re selling fast! Click here for online tickets
Written by Katherine Goyder