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25 September, 2022

A tasting plate of opera leaves one hungry for more

Let me preface the following words with a short explanation. I’m not an aficionado of opera.

Put me in the front row of a musical and I’m singing along with all the songs. Throw me in the middle of a mosh pit, I’ll make my way to the barrier and love every minute of it. Chuck me in the middle of an art gallery and I’ll ooh and ah and ponder for hours, no problems.

Opera? I’ve been to one. Two if you count the Brisbane Festival Serenade sessions!

In saying that, I jumped at the chance to see a performance of The Human Voice and The Call because I love an opportunity to try anything new and discover new loves and find new ways to spend time in the ridiculously stunning Concert Hall at QPAC.

This was a perfect introduction to the world of opera; like a mini tasting plate of the art form, two separate performances, one being The Human Voice and the other, The Call. Perfect for a beginner like me.

Staging for The Human Voice was striking, sparse and effective at piquing my interest; one woman in a beautiful black sequinned gown, exactly as I innocently expected for a performance of an opera.

Alexandra Flood so powerfully sitting silently, waiting for the audience to take their seats.

Her voice was wonderful, singing in French to a phone and making her way around the stage on her own, her one-sided conversation in song was intriguing, interesting and sometimes confusing.

While the storyline and words didn’t encourage me to become attached to her character, the orchestra were the star here, taking us on a roller coaster of emotions with their instruments; the power of music speaking volumes to an amateur audience member like me.

The next performance was one I had an interest in, having been partially written by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall (who were both part of one of the most impressive Eurovision performances and songs of all time, in my humble Eurovision-loving opinion, but I digress).

This was an opera sung in English by a woman wearing skinny jeans and converse sneakers, making me feel a little overdressed and not exactly the picture I had expected for an opera, but one I appreciated.

While I wish the storyline was a little stronger, Ali McGregor’s voice was moving and magnificent, allowing the audience to feel her journey with every note. The orchestra were again phenomenal, holding our attention, guiding the emotional performance to every high and low along the way.

As the newcomer to opera that I am, it’s hard for me to say if these pieces, both The Human Voice and The Call, are pieces I would recommend to others in my position of discovery, but both left me thinking about the art form of opera as I left.

Both had my friends and I talking extensively on the QPAC balcony afterwards and both had me yearning to learn more, discover more and see more, which is what all good art and all performances, of any genre, should do.