Throughout February and March, Opera Australia is presenting a special series of concerts featuring the greatest hits from the operatic stage and some of Australia’s finest singers.
Do you ever find yourself humming along to an operatic tune from the latest Masterchef or Leggo’s pasta ad? Well it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Verdi wasn’t writing about finding Australia’s best amateur cook, nor was he writing about the perfect combination of tomatoes, garlic and herbs.
Today, most people first encounter these great musical works through television advertisements, but Opera Australia’s Great Opera Hits concert will give you the story behind the tunes you can already hum, even if you can’t remember why.
“They’re all superbly written, just like a great novel,” says Opera Australia star soprano Taryn Fiebig.
“They’ve lasted the test of time because they’re so well crafted and appeal to the human heart. People are driven more by emotions than intellect, so if something moves them, it always will.”
Fiebig is appearing alongside David Parkin, Christopher Hillier, Jonathan Abernethy and Maestro Guy Noble in the concerts on Sunday afternoons at the Sydney Opera House.
After a successful first year in 2012, Opera Australia has brought back the series. This time, there are arias from The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville and Carmen as well as songs from musical theatre classics My Fair Lady and South Pacific.
Because the concert is packed full of music that’s so well known, Fiebig believes it’s the perfect introduction to opera.
“I think sometimes people are a bit daunted by opera,” she says. “There’s the language and it’s in one of the most iconic opera houses in the world. People tend to think that it’s very elitist and only particular people can go.”
But Great Opera Hits is priced well below regular Opera Australia productions, runs for 90 minutes and is hosted by the warm and welcoming Guy Noble who guides the audience through each song, giving them the back story of the opera and composer.
“He does such a sterling job that the audience relaxes and everyone has a great time,” Fiebig says. “They’re actually more raucous than a normal opera-going crowd.”
The concert also offers musical theatre fans the chance to see Fiebig again step into the shoes of Eliza Doolittle and sing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady.
“I played Eliza 200 times and since then I’ve been asked to sing it at every concert I’ve done, without fail.” she says. “I think I know it. It’s gorgeous to revisit, because it’s sort of in my blood. It’s just there.”
But she’s certain that most of the operatic pieces are just as recognisable.
“It’s really just all the great arias from your favourite opera, but you don’t have to sit for three to get to them. If anything you can just come along and find out if opera is your cup of tea or not.”
You’ll also probably never look at a Masterchef ad the same way again.