Last year Opera in the Paddock celebrated its first ten years with celebrations and fireworks. This month, the concert enters its second decade with a line up of talented performers and an exciting program for music lovers from the local region and across the eastern seaboard.
Each year popular events like Inverell’s Opera in the Paddock face the test of reinventing themselves, while preserving the special magic the audience anticipates and expects from year to year.
This year on Saturday, March 24, the highly geared opera concert will add a new group of performers to the Mimosa stage, the Mimosa Chorus.
They include 14 young singers from Inverell, Armidale and the surrounding area who will perform in several items, including the popular Nun’s Chorus, Ye Spotted Snakes from Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a section from Madama Butterfly.
“We have many talented young singers in the region who are looking at careers in music and singing, and this is a great opportunity for them to perform and for us to further enrich the concert,” said Peta Blyth, Opera North West Artistic Director.
When it began 10 years ago, the concert involved a few professional opera singers and a pianist; now the event showcases some of the country’s best classical singers, a twenty-piece orchestra, conductor, a large purpose built stage and an expert sound and lighting team.
This is the second year that Opera Australia has been a performance partner and for the March concert will sponsor the talented pianist and conductor, Phoebe Briggs.
“The liaison with Opera Australia has allowed us to reach a new level. We are very fortunate to have this assistance.”
The program includes excerpts from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Tosca, Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Aida – the title role which Ms Mabardi will sing for Opera Australia later this year. The singers will once again be joined by the Mimosa Orchestra.
For the past three years, a Lieder Concert has been held at the Inverell Town Hall at 6.15pm on the Friday evening prior to the concert. This year’s concert, once again sponsored by the German Consul General, will highlight songs by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss and Liszt. Pianist and conductor Phoebe Briggs and John Woods will accompany the singers on this occasion.
“It is exciting to add new elements,” says OP Artistic Director, Peta Blyth. “I am very conscious of maintaining and improving the standard of the event each year. The audience travel from great distances to attend, so it has to be well worth their while.”
In addition to the main opera weekend, Opera North West has been presenting concerts throughout the region. The touring schedule last year, sponsored by NSW Arts and Essential Energy, which brought concerts to a number of regional centres and featured a number of local musicians, was a real success. The concert series will continue in 2012.
“It has always been our intention to bring in the best performers on the professional circuit and engage our own local professional talent to perform with them and widen their horizons and opportunities, while residing in the country.”
New faces on the Mimosa stage this year include exciting dramatic soprano, Jacqueline Mabardi, baritone Barry Ryan, and young mezzo, Elizabeth Lewis. They will perform with Paddock veterans, acclaimed tenor James Egglestone, mezzo soprano Elizabeth Campbell and soprano Peta Blyth.
Exciting dramatic soprano, Jacqueline Mabardi, has performed in major roles with the Queensland Opera, the State Opera of South Australia and Opera Australia. She also sang at the Shalyapin Festival in Russia and the title role in Aida in Moscow.
James Egglestone is making a return visit to the Paddock as part of a busy year, taking the roles of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia in Sydney and Melbourne, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Brisbane, Rodolfo La Bohème for State Opera of South Australia and the tenor solos in Beethoven Symphony No. 9 for the Sydney Symphony under Vladamir Ashkenazy.
Barry Ryan has performed with Europe’s leading houses, including Opera Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, the Opera Comique in Paris, the Paris Opera Bastille, the Deutsche Opera am Rhein Düsseldorf, the Flemish Opera Antwerp, the Komische Opera Berlin, Basel Opera and the Otono Festival Opera Madrid. He has won many awards, including the Shell Aria, the New York Metropolitan Auditions, Marten Bequest for Singing, the Vienna State Opera Award and the Green Room Award.
Opera North West Ltd acknowledges the support of Arts NSW, Destination NSW, Opera Australia, Inverell Shire Council, NAB, Regional ABC, Essential Energy, Malachite Resources and the German Consul. Bookings online www.operainthepaddock.com.au /ph 1800 240 301 and Inverell Visitors Centre ph 1800 067 626. Coaches will run from most regional centres.