2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of the death of one of opera’s most iconic performers. Luciano Pavarotti was one of the sparkling diamonds of the opera stage in the late 20th century, shining in opera houses all over the world. He also became a household name through performing for the larger public (who otherwise might not have found interest in opera) in performances with The Three Tenors and his Pavarotti & Friends. An inspiration for all things opera, Pavarotti is known everywhere amongst all members of society and all walks of life. So it should come as no surprise that many members of the opera community pay tribute to this wonderful man.
Roger Davy – a Brisbane tenor known for creating the famed Ten Tenors, is coming to Perth’s Fringe Festival to perform a show paying tribute to this brilliant tenor – Pavarotti and the Diva. Creator of the company, Vavachi Entertainment, we spoke to Roger on the phone to find out what to expect from this show:
What inspired and influenced you to create the show ‘Pavarotti and the Diva’?
It was all about the celebration of the man who was Pavarotti. Not only was he a really great opera singer, but without him we potentially wouldn’t have a whole new generation to appreciate what classical music was all about: telling stories and having fun – bringing that passion to music.
And who is the Diva in the show?
The diva is a local Perth soprano by the name of Harriet O’Shannessy, who is very involved in Perth’s opera scene, known for creating the new company Freeze Frame Opera. Pavarotti and the Diva can be performed anywhere, given the right performers. Harriet, like myself, has had a lot of local and international experience, and I thought, since she’s been involved with Freeze Frame Opera, it might be a great opportunity for her to showcase herself locally.
What can audiences expect from the show?
The show celebrates the life of Pavarotti, not only his music but also his personality, and the unique way that he was to be able to bring class, style and magic to the songs that he performed. It takes people on a journey through some of the most famous songs that he sang, showcasing some famous melodies that people love: O Sole Mio, right through to singing the popular Andrea Bocelli duet ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, and the Brindisi from La Traviata. It brings together his humour as well: I’m dressed as Pavarotti and I take on the character and engage the audience from that perspective. Overall, the show is a celebration of popular arias and duets that anybody will love.
2017 marks 10 years since Pavarotti’s death. We are still talking about him 10 years on. Why do you think his legacy is still so important in opera?
I think he was just an iconic character the world over. He brought classical music to the people in a fun and entertaining way and that’s pretty much what I’m all about too.
What do you think Pavarotti would think of this show?
I think he would think that it celebrated his life, and him as a person and that I do it in a respectful way that everybody would appreciate. Continuing his legacy is what this is all about. I don’t think there’s been anything like this in Perth before.
This is one of only a few Opera performances in this year’s Fringe Festival. Why do you think people should come and watch and experience opera?
As I said, I think that its different. A lot of people who come to see my show with Pavarotti in it tell me “I’ve never been to the opera before… it’s just fantastic, I really enjoyed this!” and that’s what we try to do with Vavachi Entertainment. We try to bring that engaging, entertaining element to all the shows that we do. That’s my aim: To bring music to the people in a fun way. I think that coming to a show like ours would be a good opportunity to open doors for who’s never seen opera and change their perception on what opera is.
Why is classical music, like opera, so important? Why should we have it around in 2017?
It’s been around for centuries and, at the end of the day, it’s story telling. Whether it’s a play, ballet, or symphony orchestra, we’re all about telling stories and moving people. My tag line for my company (Vavachi Entertainment) is “More than memorable” and we leave people with a memorable experience. We do all sorts of different things in our company, and it’s all about finding a different way to open the door to classical music to people who hadn’t recognised it before. I’ve performed to a lot of different age groups, and it’s rewarding to see young people being entertained by a fun show where they get to hear opera singing and voices and go away with a memorable experience where they’ve listened to something different to mainstream music.
If you could give any advice to young classical voice students in Australia, what would it be?
Don’t give up, and always make sure that you’ve got a strong mentor in your life to believe in you and trust in you as an artist and a performer, and who always tells you the truth. It’s really important that you find someone you can trust and someone who tells you how it is – not something that’s make believe – because this is a tough game. Singing classical music is a niche and it’s a very demanding field. Every piece of music that is put in front of you demands different things from you and it’s all about having those mentors along the way that guide you. It’s a big fish-pond out there and you’ve got to sink or swim. So that would be my advice. Surround yourself with good people who value you.
Pavarotti and the Diva is playing at the Dress Circle Bar at His Majesty’s Theatre on January 25th – 28th at 9:15pm. Make a night of it by seeing Robert Hofmann’s Desperately Young At Heart before the show!