West Australian Opera turns 50 this year—and to celebrate, the company is partying hard, with help from Nicole and Twiggy Forrest.
A gala evening of music, food and wine at Voyager Estate is planned for 11 March and will feature Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Antoinette Halloran and Paul O’Neill singing masterpieces from Verdi, Puccini, Wagner and Mozart.
The Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation is contributing $75,000 to WAO to help it celebrate its birthday, which will feature three mainstage operas, the free Opera in the Park simulcast to locations around the state, three regional concerts in the Pinnacles, Greenough and Valley of the Giants, as well as expanded education and outreach programs.
Ensuring greater access to the opera across the state is the main focus of the Minderoo Foundation’s support.
Opera has also invited the public to submit anecdotes, memories and stories, to build a picture of Fifty Years of Opera in Western Australia (1967–2017).
Many people have already done so, including Warwick Hemsley, who sits on the boards of both the Opera and the WA Chamber of Arts and Culture.
He remembers being part of a primary school ‘high quality’ production of Gilbert and Sullivan’sThe Pirates of Penzancein 1967.
‘Word spread and West Australian Opera commissioned the children’s chorus for its first production ofCarmen,’ he said.
‘The opening night was exciting indeed and I will never forget standing on the stage and listening to the overture and finally the curtain rising.’
It was clearly a pivotal moment in nurturing Hemsley’s love of opera.
The company is keen to hear from anyone with a pithy anecdote to share, including audience members, singers, performers, members of the orchestra, backstage and front of house staff (firstname.lastname@example.org).
WAO’s General Manager, Carolyn Chard, thanked Andrew and Nicola Forrest for the Minderoo Foundation’s support of the state opera company in this important year and said that in 2017 West Australian Opera will perform in ‘the home of opera’ at His Majesty’s Theatre, which celebrates its 113th anniversary.