The Gold Coast is poised for a unique performing arts spectacle next year as Opera Australia brings together sand, surf and sopranos for Griffith Opera on the Beach.
The open-air opera, which will be performed in Coolangatta Beach over six nights, builds on the success of the inaugural event held in 2014 and sets the scene for Queensland Conservatorium students to work side by side with some of Australia’s best classical music professionals.
Griffith University has become naming sponsor for the 2017 series which will present what is arguably the world’s most spectacular outdoor opera, Aida.
The Verdi opera, which will feature Queensland Conservatorium alumna and mezzo soprano Sian Pendry as the jilted Egyptian princess Amneris, has been cast with some of Australia’s finest singers. Among them are Natalie Aroyan, Michael Honeyman, Milijana Nikolic and David Parkin who will perform alongside the Opera Australia Community Choir.
“To experience Verdi’s masterpiece Aida on the beach will be an unforgettable opera experience,” said Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini.
“It’s an honour to return to Queensland and we’re grateful for the support of Griffith University making this possible.”
Mr Terracini said while Griffith Opera on the Beach brings opera to a broader audience, it also creates valuable opportunities for Griffith University students to work with and be mentored by principal players from Opera Australia’s orchestra in Sydney.
He acknowledged the work by Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison to make this possible, as the 2017 performance of Aida gears up to exceed the audience of 8000 who revelled in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 2014.
Professor Harrison said Opera on the Beach was a rare opportunity for Queensland Conservatorium students to engage in a professional musical production. He said a number of students who participated in The Magic Flute in 2014 are now engaged in the industry.
“For students to play side by side with professional musicians, for some of our alumni to be involved and just for Griffith to own the opera brand is incredibly important,” he said.
“We already present fully-staged operas as part of the students’ training. For example, we are currently in rehearsal for a production of Albert Herring, directed by Bruce Beresford.
“We’re unique in that respect. This opportunity with Opera Australia takes it to a whole new level and gives our students a genuine toehold in the profession.”
Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the Griffith Opera on the Beach series had implications for students across broader study disciplines at Griffith University.
“The Conservatorium hosts Australia’s best opera school and it has some extraordinary orchestral students as well,” he said.
“So for our students to be involved in an event like this, to work hand in glove with Opera Australia is something that will be a key part of their education.
“However, the great thing about the arts is that it actually touches every area of the community. We have a very big tourism school, including events management and studies in media and communications.
“An event like this provides a great opportunity for our students to have absolute access and participation in a world-class event.”
Aida will play six performances on Coolangatta Beach from September 21-30 in 2017.