Friday, November 8, 2013

Pacific 10th Anniversary Concert at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney

The Pacific Opera 2013 Young Artists were lucky enough to share the stage in the 10th Anniversary Concert of Pacific Opera with such amazing singers as Cheryl Barker, Peter Coleman-Wright, Eva Kong, David Hamilton, Glenn Winslade and Christine Douglas. Glenn Amer was at the piano and former Chief Justice of NSW George Palmer was the MC for the evening.

The church was a really beautiful space to sing in and I really enjoyed our appreciative audience. I sang "Jewel Song" from "Faust" and "Mister Snow" from "Carousel".

Thank you, Glenn Amer, for your wonderful accompaniment!

And many, MANY thanks to my wondrous Joseph Restubog for taking these gorgeous photos.

Clockwise from far left:
Maia Andrews, Hannah Greenshields, Rhian Saunders,
Pamela Andrews, Georgia Kokkoris and Sepehr Irandoost

Clockwise from far left:
Maia Andrews, Hannah Greenshields, Rhian Saunders,
Pamela Andrews and Georgia Kokkoris

 Clockwise from far left: 
Sepehr Irandoost, Hannah Greenshields, 
Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews, Georgia Kokkoris, 
Laura King and Maia Andrews

 L-R: Hannah Greenshields, Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews

 L-R: Maia Andrews, Hannah Greenshields,
Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews

 Clockwise from far left: 
Sepehr Irandoost, Hannah Greenshields, 
Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews, Georgia Kokkoris, 
Laura King and Maia Andrews

L-R: Pamela Andrews, Hannah Greenshields, Rhian Saunders

Clockwise from far left: 
Sepehr Irandoost, Hannah Greenshields, 
Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews, Georgia Kokkoris, 
Laura King and Maia Andrews

L-R: Sepehr Irandoost, Laura King, Hannah Greenshields,
Maia Andrews, Joelene Griffith, Georgia Kokkoris,
Pamela Andrews, Zoe Drummond, Karuna Kourkova
and Damian Arnold

My favourite shot of the night. Cheesy!
L-R: Hannah Greenshields, Rhian Saunders, Pamela Andrews

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Gala Dinner

Some of the Pacific Opera 2013 Young Artists were asked if we could do a lunchtime concert, a mystery gig, at the Shangri-La Hotel on the 26th of October. Less than two days before the appointed gig, we found out that it was actually an evening event - providing operatic entertainment in two brackets at a gala dinner for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an exclusive Australian chapter of a worldwide organisation of, essentially, foodies. People who love their food and wine. Sounds like something I could really get behind, to be honest! It was founded in Paris in 1950, and is referred to as an international gastronomic organisation. Yessssss.

It was pretty obvious by some of the surprised faces in the room that our appearance during the dinner was an unexpected but very welcome event! They were such a lovely and appreciative audience, and I am truly grateful for some of the members who got up at the end of the show to congratulate me privately. It was a much needed confidence boost and I thank you! One woman said that I was really engaging and funny, which is pretty much the highest praise I could ever get, so thank you very much indeed.

I sang:

Porgi, amor, from La Nozze di Figaro by Mozart
Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine by Puccini
Mister Snow from Carousel by Rodgers & Hammerstein

Our pianist was Yerim Lee, as Glenn Amer was unavailable. She was a very sweet girl.

Our General Manager, Claire Palmer, treated us to a bottle of sparkling wine in the Shangri-La Hotel Lobby Bar after the performance, and then we went up to Level 36 Bar to check out the absolutely stunning panoramic view of Sydney City at night. Holy crap, if you haven't done that, I really recommend it! I will be taking Joe to see it as soon as practical.

There was an official photographer there taking photos but i haven't gotten my hands on any of those... here are some photos from backstage.

Zoe and I accidentally wore the same colour - RED! - but that turned out to be a theme colour of the evening decorations anyway, so we pretended that we planned it that way. Obviously.

The singers were Pamela Andrews, Zoe Drummond, Sepehr Irandoost and Damian Arnold.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Banco Court Concert, Supreme Court Building

The Chair of the Pacific Opera Board, Hon George Palmer, is the former Chief Justice of New South Wales, and I can only presume that it's through him that we got this gig. Most of the young artists were able to make it for this concert on the 13th floor of the Supreme Court Building. It was an appreciative crowd, and a lovely grand piano. Very dead space to sing in, though, which surprised me, as most old courtrooms I've been in have been very boomy. I remember going to see Trial By Jury in the old Hobart courtroom and it was so boomy that I could not make out a single word of the show, especially the chorus! Thought they were all shouting it. Disliked the show for that reason for several years until I performed it myself and realised how funny it was. Words! They're important!

The girls took a couple of photos backstage but I don't think there were any taken during performance. Bummer.

You may be wondering why I have been wearing my red dress so much lately. The very simple reason for that is that it's the easiest to transport! I've had to come straight from work for a few of these gigs lately and it's the only dress I've got that I can keep rolled up in a carry-on suitcase under my desk at work all day. It was my bridesmaid dress for Justine and Aaron's wedding in Adelaide several years ago. Still a stunning choice, Juzzy. Best bride ever. You rock.

L-R: Laura King, Joelene Griffiths, Pamela Andrews,
Rhian Saunders and Zoe Drummond.
Photo taken by Maia Andrews.
Can you see Karuna Kourkova taking a nap behind us?

The Andrews Sisters! Maia is the prettiest Andrews in the world.
No relation, but thanks if you think so! ;-)
Taken by Maia Andrews. Selfies FTW.

L-R: Karuna Kourkova, Joelene Griffith, Pamela Andrews,
Maia Andrews, Rhian Saunders, Georgia Kokkoris,
Zoe Drummond, Damian Arnold and Laura King

Sunday, September 15, 2013

National Eisteddfod, Canberra

Joe, Mikey and I journeyed down to Canberra for the weekend for the National Eisteddfod. Traditionally, it's a fairly big aria contest and the prize used to be around $15,000. Well, the Eisteddfod has lost a large sponsor, I believe, and so there was a one-off "Centenary Aria" prize of $5,000 instead this year. I have to say that I found it incredibly strange that the Eisteddfod was running a raffle for which there were large cash prizes. I would not have thought that to be an economical use of funds. What's wrong with winning a meat-tray? I'd be stoked if I won some food or wine! Seemed like a big waste of money to me.

I continued my tradition of never winning a single thing ever at the Canberra Eisteddfod, not even a highly commended or 4th placing. Very therapeutic for one's ego, I must say. The adjudicator was Dr Jean Callaghan (not a singer, I'm led to believe, but more of a musicologist) who wrote lots of illuminating things about my technique.

The aria contest had many, many withdrawals, so many so that only five of us showed up for the actual competition! Ridiculous. The winner was Sonia Anfiloff, my co-Masters soprano at ANU who was home from Vienna for a few months. Utterly deserved - she's a total babe and sang like "Vissi d'arte" like a dream. Wonderful. I have aspirations of learning that aria now...

My wondrous Joseph Restubog took these 2 beautiful photos of the competitors:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Workshop with Chuck Hudson

Chuck Hudson is a renowned opera director from NYC, New York, and I was lucky enough to get both an hour privately with him working on "Porgi, amor" from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, but also a 2-hour acting workshop with him with the rest of the Young Artists.

The techniques he teaches were so great at instantly transforming a performance. He was brilliant. I'll be first in line when he returns to Australia next August!

Photography by John Kilkeary.

 Clockwise from left: Javier Vilarino, Chuck Hudson, Sepehr Irandoost,
Paul Chegwidden, Georgia Kokkoris, Pamela Andrews, Zoe Drummond,
Rhian Saunders, Joelene Griffith and Maia Andrews

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pacific Opera Masterclass: Lauris Elms AM OBE

Just google Lauris Elms. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Then listen to this.


I just LOVE that kind of voice... so warm, sultry, welcoming, fierce, ecstatic... a perfect mixture! Wish I could have heard her sing live. She's still around, of course, but she's of a supreme vintage now and doesn't sing any longer (that I'm aware of). She is still VERY capable of delivering an amazing masterclass to a group of aspiring opera singers, however.

Lauris came and schooled us on our recits for The Marriage of Figaro. We are performing the opera in English, so our diction and clarity becomes even more important to an English-speaking audience. I struggle with English the most! I think it's probably fine for other languages because I assume that not everybody knows what every word means so I can be as forthright as I like and people don't really know any difference; however, when it's English, you know they understand every single word. Gotta step out of myself more and into the shoes of the Countess. She doesn't apologise for anything!

Things I took away from Lauris Elms' masterclass:

- KNOW your opera. KNOW the character/s. KNOW the scenes. What are you saying? What are you feeling? Why are you saying it? What's her position? How would she be addressing her servant? How would she say it?

- SAY your words. Learn them as speech and say them as you would if you were that character. (eg. Countess, be imperious!)

- STAND like your character. What's she like? What would she be doing? Be the Countess. Shoulders back, chest up, head straight, not giving way for anybody.

- CONVERSATION - recitatives are a conversation between characters. Don't sing it so much as say it. Get the words out and be convincing.

- DON'T hang onto vowels and pretty sounds in recit. Get the words out and use the consonants to propel the words. For me, especially: "I'm not happy, Susanna." Don't hang onto "hap" - move the sound along. "I'm not happy, Susanna. To think that Cherubino heard all the things that his Lordship said this morning!" Be annoyed that it's all happened and take it out on Susanna. Be IMPERIOUS. Be a Countess.

I loved hearing about Lauris' career, and let me tell you, she may be 83 but that didn't stop her pulling us up every time she didn't like what we were doing. What an experience. |I hope she can come back to work on arias and duets before the opera!

Check out Pacific Opera's website for details about The Marriage of Figaro.

 Lauris Elms AM OBE talking about her career

 L-R: Zoe Drummond (Susanna), Pamela Andrews (Countess), 
Joelene Griffith (Cherubino), Lauris Elms AM OBE

2013 Pacific Opera Young Artists with
Lauris Elms AM OBE and Glenn Amer

Photography: John Kilkeary
Official Pacific Opera Photographer
Check out the whole album on Facebook

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Pacific Opera Young Artist Program: A snapshot of the website

The beautiful Maia Andrews was first billed, and then closely followed by myself.

Click to make it bigger. =)

This page will change again in 2014 with the 2014 Young Artists.

Check out the Pacific Opera page here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pacific Opera Young Artist Program

I am delighted to announce that I have become a 2013 Pacific Opera Young Artist!

Check out their website for information on the Young Artists.

And hey, look! I'm Young Artist of the Month! (February.)