As a young singer I occasionally got the opportunity to sing in England’s most prestigious opera houses and concert halls. Sydney Opera House, however, always seemed like a fairytale venue, thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world. This year I spent the festive season far away from home, in the heat of the Sydney summer sun. Suddenly a trip to the world’s most iconic opera house didn’t seem so impossible.
On Boxing Day afternoon I visited the magnificent white building to see a special ‘Great Opera Hits’ show. In the 90-minute concert we saw four upcoming young singers perform some of the most familiar operatic solos and duets, accompanied by Guy Noble on the piano. Carefully programmed to ensure it was accessible for tourists and families, this recital of famous songs was tuneful and enjoyable.
Pianist Guy Noble was a witty and informative host, introducing each artist and aria with cheeky anecdotes and facts. The two-part concert featured four singers who took turns to perform individually and together. Luke Gabbedy had a comical and dramatic personality onstage. His warm and rich tone was evident particularly in Bizet’s ‘Toreador’s Song’ from Carmen. Mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley had a bright and clear voice which perfectly suited the Rossini aria ‘Una voce poco fa’. The audience particularly relished her duet with soprano Natalie Aroyan, as their voices soared harmoniously for Delibes’ celebrated ‘Flower Duet’. Simon King tackled two legendary tenor arias with emotion and grace. He finished the concert with Puccini’s epic ‘Nessun Dorma’ to rapturous applause, before the ensemble returned to perform Verdi’s ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata as a lively encore.
Though I would always prefer to see a full opera, I admire Opera Australia and the Sydney Opera House for creating a show that makes this elevated art form so pleasurable and entertaining for visitors from all walks of life. So although I didn’t have my traditional Christmas comforts this was a special festive treat I will never forget.