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WA Opera Young Artists Showcase Review

11 September 2020, Government House Ballroom

We were treated to a wonderful evening of operatic arias, performed by Chelsea Burns and Brianna Louwen, Sopranos; Chelsea Kluga, Mezzo Soprano; and Matt Dixon and Lachlann Lawton, Baritones. The accompanist was Adrian Soares who provided polished and nimble accompaniment throughout. Adrian obviously enjoyed the chance to play on the incredible Fazioli piano, which enables all the colours of the orchestra to be evoked.

There was a wide range of moods and character portrayed by the singers. Lachlan displayed the Count’s burning, seething resentment in ‘Hai già vinta la causa’, followed later by the confident swagger of Don Giovanni as he seduces the naïve but only slightly unwilling Zerlina, sung by Lachlan’s real -life fiancée, Chelsea Burns. Chelsea sang ‘Porgi Amor’ with strong musical line, and affecting sadness, and Brianna sang ‘Deh vieni’ with great warmth and beauty of tone.

Chelsea Kluga opened the ‘Carmen’ section with a spirited and seductive ‘Seguidilla’, which Carmen sings to seduce Don José, and convince him to give her her freedom. Then brave, plucky Michaëla sings about her fear of finding Don José at the smugglers’ camp, and of having to confront Carmen. Chelsea Burns gave a stunning performance, showing both the fear and courage of Michaëla. Leanne Puttick is a student conductor who gave a short talk about what attracted her to the idea of conducting opera, and then we were given the chance of singing in the Opera chorus for the ‘Toréador Song’, singing our praises for the Toreador Escamillo. Lachlan sang the role of Escamillo, moving up and down the steps as he told the stories about his bullfighting prowess. The chorus (us!) sang heartily, following our conductor for the dynamics and expression.

Continuing with French opera, we had a sparkling ‘Je veux vivre’ from Brianna, a stately and impressive Dalila from Chelsea Kluga and the always enchanting flower duet from Lakmé.

Matthew Dixon gave a beautiful and moving performance of ‘O del mio amato ben’ by Donaudy, which is a romantic art song ‘in stile antico’, to bring to mind the great Italian arias of the past. Puccini must be one of the most well-loved composers of opera, and we heard an aria from Edgar, which is rarely performed but full of the melodic invention and deep emotion that Puccini is famous for. Lachlann sang ‘Questo Amor’ with style and sincerity, followed by Chelsea Burns singing Mimi’s tenderly fragile aria ‘Donde lietà’ from La Bohème. Mimi is by now very ill, and she tells Rodolfo ‘addio, senza rancor’ ‘Goodbye, no hard feelings’. Heartbreaking.

The concert finished, as it had started, with Mozart and the sublime ‘Soave sia il vento’ from ‘Così fan Tutte’. The three voices were perfectly balanced and the accompaniment was limpid and clear.

This event in beautiful Government house Ballroom was magical from beginning to end, and we have received many compliments from those who were lucky enough to attend. We raised well over $2500 which will be divided up between all 7 Young Artists. We are very grateful to the the ‘Restart the Arts’ initiative and the Government House Foundation for providing the venue and the piano for our use.

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