State-wide initiative, Regional Queensland tour (2016)
Following the success of Project Puccini in 2014, OperaQ’s second state-wide initiative, Project Rossini was launched in February 2016. Of the 450 auditionees, 250 chorus members were selected to receive an 11-week program of professional training in singing, dancing, stagecraft and Italian language skills culminating in the opportunity to perform in Giaocchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville alongside some of Queensland’s brightest opera stars.
During its four-week tour, OperaQ artists and musicians from Queensland Symphony Orchestra performed in eight locations around Queensland to over 5,000 people.
The tour marked a return to Gladstone for OperaQ for the first time in over five years and the unique opportunity to be a part of the grand opening of the new outdoor entertainment space at Munro Martin Parklands in Cairns. The Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC officially opened the Parklands before OperaQ performed under the stars to thousands of Cairns locals.
Graziè Tanto con Tutto mio quorè – thank you so much from all of my heart.
PROJECT ROSSINI CHORUS MEMBER, CAIRNS
Thank you to all involved in putting this fabulous idea together and giving us the chance to sing and dance along with OperaQ and musicians from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Too many people to thank on and offstage – the crew, costumiers, set designers – a marvelous job one and all.
PROJECT ROSSINI CHORUS MEMBER, TOWNSVILLE
It has been the most amazing experience and I hope that we have the opportunity to work with OperaQ again in the future. They are the most amazing, welcoming, professional group of talented individuals I have had the pleasure to meet and work with. Congratulations on a fabulous production!
PROJECT ROSSINI CHORUS MEMBER, GLADSTONE
Primary School Touring Production (2014 – 2016)
Addressing the big issues that face little people today, FiZZ! was a modern adaptation of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love exploring self-confidence, cyber-bullying, honesty and friendship.
Presented against a dynamic multimedia backdrop FiZZ! was brought to life by three effervescent performers with on-screen appearances by some of Queensland’s most experienced artists. From 2014-2016, over 26,000 students were introduced to opera from Normanton in the north, Mount Isa in the west and Rathdowney in the south.
BLUE ROO THEATRE CO.
3 productions over 3 years (2014 – 2016)
Opera Queensland’s mission: to reflect, celebrate and enrich life in our communities is evidenced by the success of its three-year partnership with Blue Roo Theatre Co. The 28-strong Brisbane-based ensemble provides opportunities for people with disabilities to become actively involved in the performing arts.
SONG CIRCLE // 9-11 October 2014, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts
Song Circle was a highly celebrated production comprising twelve personal stories laid bare in original song, based on the words and experiences of Blue Roo ensemble members.
2014 was a significant year for Blue Roo Theatre Company from the highs of the Open Stage program to the tragedy of losing founding member and friend Jamie Carrigan. Song Circle also became a touching dedication to the missing member whom they lost along the way.
It was beautiful. It came alive. I enjoyed the jokes. It was different, and it spoke about us.
PROJECT ROSSINI CHORUS MEMBER, TOWNSVILLE
THE BULIMBA OPERA //5-14 November 2015, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Lourdes Hull College
In 2015, OperaQ and Blue Roo Theatre Co joined forces to present The Bulimba Opera, an original production about the people of Bulimba during World War II. Combining a heartbreaking love story with epic drama and toe-tapping folk melodies, The Bulimba Opera performed to sold out audiences at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art and finished the season with a rousing performance at Lourdes Hill College.
ORPHEUS & EURYDICE // 1-3 December 2016, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts
After nine months of rehearsals, the third and final artistic collaboration between OperaQ and Blue Roo Theatre Company, Orpheus & Eurydice, opened at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts on Thursday 1 December. The staging of a traditional opera with the Blue Roo artists performing as both chorus and featured roles illustrates the incredible progress that the 26 Blue Roo artists have made over the three year partnership.
The three year collaboration allowed the Blue Roo ensemble to explore music and singing in addition to their theatre work and has assisted in profiling the organisation’s progressive work in the disability sector. At the end of 2016, Blue Roo Theater Co was awarded Arts Queensland Organisational Funding for 2017-2020, allowing them to continue to provide opportunities for people with a disability to become actively involved in the performing arts.
Opera at Jimbour
Jimbour House, 25 July 2015
The iconic Opera at Jimbour is a Queensland Music Festival favourite staged in the glorious surrounds of heritage-listed Jimbour House in the Western Downs.
For the event in 2015, QMF with Opera Queensland presented a semi-staged production of Fledermaus featuring Emily Burke, Jason Barry-Smith and Hayley Sugars as the cross-dressing Russian ‘Prince’ Orlovsky with Shaun Brown, Virgilio Marino, Natalie Peluso and Phillip Prendergast. For the first time in its history, Opera Queensland gave locals the opportunity to sing in a community chorus alongside principal artists, the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra and guest artists from Camerata of St Johns.
Following an eight-week rehearsal period, the Toowoomba Community Chorus took to the stage in front of 7,500 audience members.
In another first for Opera at Jimbour, the audience was invited to join the renowned Fledermaus ballroom scene and create the world’s largest dance floor. Pair by pair, the audience became a sea of waltzing couples from children to adults of all ages, proving that no matter your age or experience, there’s an opera adventure for everyone.
State-wide initiative, Regional Queensland tour (2014)
Project Puccini was a world-first initiative that offered 384 Queenslanders across 8 regional locations the opportunity to perform alongside internationally renowned artists in OperaQ’s brand new touring production of Puccini’s La bohème.
Considered a turning point for touring of opera to regional Australians, Project Puccini inspired state-wide community
Following launch of the project in February, nearly 800 auditions were held to select 36 adults and 12 children to
Project Puccini provided participants with the opportunity to build their creative skills by observing and working at close range with professional artists and musicians, strengthening social networks and ties between the 8 communities involved.
There were choristers aged 7 to 86 from all kinds of backgrounds, and in some cases whole families, committed almost three months of their lives to learn their roles in La bohème; people drove 400km round trips to attend every rehearsal; people rehearsed in hi-vis clothing because they’d just walked out of a mine; 384 people committed themselves to something that for most of them was out of their comfort zone…and they didn’t give up when the going got tough. ~
JASON BARRY-SMITH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
G20 Community Chorus
Treasury Hotel, Brisbane (2014)
In 2014, Opera Queensland was invited to participate in the G20 Cultural Celebrations by creating a large-scale community choir event in Brisbane CBD.
The team assembled the OperaQ Community Chorus, a volunteer group of 73 members, who performed over the two weekends prior to the G20 Summit. The Opera Queensland Chorus and Queensland Symphony Orchestra recorded a medley of Verdi classics to accompany live performances.
‘The Changing Face of Brisbane’ was a spectacular sound and light show which incorporated choral singing, movement, large scale projections and video to create a ‘living canvas’ on the façade of the Treasury Hotel, Brisbane.
Paragon Theatre, Isis Cultural Centre and Lake Redbrook (2014-2016)
Over the past three years, OperaQ and Bundaberg Regional Council have joined forces to bring free creative workshops to local school and community groups as part of the annual Childers Festival.
Each year, five OperaQ artists facilitated week-long workshops, all culminating with performances at a range of venues including the Paragon Theatre, Isis Cultural Centre and Lake Redbrook (Opera by the Lake).