Opera Queensland (OQ) are stepping out of hibernation and into nature’s spotlight with a very special evening of music and singing, 'Opera Queensland Under The Stars'.
The open-air event kickstarts the organisation’s 40th anniversary celebrations, bringing together 60 voices of the OQ chorus and a choir of school students alongside some of Queensland’s best singers, such as Jason Barry-Smith, Eva Kong, Jose Carbo and more.
The evening’s programme has been specially curated to appeal to existing opera lovers and curious minds to the genre alike, with OQ’s Artistic Director and CEO Patrick Nolan firmly attesting, “Opera is a really accessible art form”.
“It’s a programme that will attract as many people as possible. We're creating a programme that celebrates that.”
The evening boasts classics including ‘Drinking Song’ from Verdi’s 'La Traviata' and Mozart’s ‘Letter Duet’, made famous in the cult classic film 'The Shawshank Redemption'.
“If you’re an opera lover already there’s a lot of music there that you’ll know and be excited by,” Patrick says. “If you’re new to opera there’s also music you will probably recognise because it’s been used in popular culture or film.
“The programme is built around wanting to create an event where as many people as possible would feel welcome and engaged by the music.
“We wanted it to be that we touch as many people’s hearts as possible.”
Image © Glenn Hunt
This isn’t just an evening that celebrates the four-decade long achievements of OQ and their emergence after a year-long hiatus: 'Under The Stars' is also a celebration of inclusion and community. The concert will include an encore performance of ‘Songs Of Belonging’, written by Queensland composer Helen Franzmann with students from Yeronga State High School and members of OQ as part of the latter’s regional community programmes. With many of the students involved coming from refugee backgrounds, Patrick says the whole focus of the project was hearing their stories and sharing their stories, and out of that process, writing a song.
“With Helen, it was a very special, moving experience for all of us. We want to celebrate that again and invited them to come to sing with us.
“The spirit of that song does invoke the spirit of the community.”
In 2021, Opera Queensland officially celebrate their 40th anniversary, and Patrick hopes that 'Under The Stars' will set a precedent for the 2021 programme of celebrations that the organisation have already marked out.
“As of 28 November, people will be able to buy tickets to our 2021 season. A part of this ['Under The Stars'] programme – without revealing too much – contains music from the 2021 season. We hope this night is not only a celebration of who we are as an organisation after 40 years but it’s also a celebration of our re-emergence after a year of being in hibernation, effectively.
“One of the driving motivations for us is that the connection [of the concert] is meaningful, that we go into a community and form a relationship, and something that lasts over time.”
'Opera Queensland Under The Stars' is on at Brisbane Riverstage 28 November.