Enamored with opera anew
By Narelle Wood
Games of Love and Chance was a smorgasbord of operatic music ranging from classical operas such as Carmen and The Magic Flute to the more recent operas of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Blitzstein’s Regina. The pieces selected offered a vast array of emotional journeys, from love lost to love regained, as well as love’s fortune foretold.
The almost eighty-piece orchestra, consisting of students from the Monash Academy Orchestra and several guest musicians, showcased the immense wealth of upcoming musical talent, performing Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg Prelude to Act Three from Tristan and Isolde with seemingly professional ease.
If it was difficult to believe the age of the musicians in the orchestra, it was even harder to believe that many of the young operatic artists had never performed with an orchestra before. Of this group of up-and-coming opera stars, it was Matthew Tng and Kate Amos that provided some of the stand-out performances; it was not just the clarity of their voices and their range but the embodiment of their characters, especially with the lack of context normally provided by costumes, sets and props.
Normally I’m captivated by watching the performers or the mesmerising rhythm of the violin bows, but during this performance I was just as fascinated by the conducting style and instant rapport with the audience of Richard Mills, the Maestro and Artistic Director at Victorian Opera. His passion for music, developing new talent and preserving our cultural heritage was clearly evident not only in the way he spoke during the introduction of each piece, but also in every flourish of his baton.
A highlight of the evening was the outstanding vocal soloists, many of whom are icons of the Australian operatic scene; among my favourites were Douglas McNicol, Jeremy Kleeman and the phenomenal performance of Lisa Gasteen.
While opera may not be everybody’s cup of tea, the collaboration between Monash Academy Orchestra and Victoria Opera provides a perfect opportunity to experience this great art form for both the opera novice and aficionada alike.
This performance took place at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton on March 29, 2014. Visit artsonline.monash.edu.au/mapa/events for upcoming events.