What a week! On Monday, we launched our 2014 program in the old-world glamour of a Spiegeltent in the middle of Brisbane's Festival-buzzy Southbank cultural precinct, followed by a laser light show on the river. And last night, 1200 kilometres away in outback Queensland, our Open Stage team led a very special community performance at the Longreach QANTAS Founders Museum, streamed back to viewers in Brisbane by live video feed. The juxtaposition of these two incredibly different events is a vivid example of the scope and flexibility of OperaQ's portfolio and the diversity of the roles we play in our community. I'm incredibly proud of our company this week.
I'm writing this from my room at the Longreach Motor Inn, but will be spending most of today on the road and in the air. Open Stage Manager Mark Taylor and I are following the Open Stage team to Barcaldine (I'm pictured here at The Tree of Knowledge) where they're continuing their tour of remote schools in the Central West, giving performance workshops and encouraging kids' creative expression, using opera as a learning vehicle. It's an incredibly successful program, building skills and teamwork, and I'm always incredibly moved to watch each young participant's confidence grow as the week progresses. These kids lap up every minute! Yesterday's rehearsal and last night's concert brought students from across a vast area of Central West Queensland, alongside Longreach's Caterpillar Choir, a community group who sing for the love of it, and five excellent OperaQ artists for the shared adventure of singing together as a community.
I was so proud and impressed watching music director Kylie Lock, director Cienda McNamara and singers Zara Barrett, Louise Dorsman and Sam Hartley generously share their voices and enormous collective experience as professional opera practitioners with these kids and community members. These artists are very much at home on the main stages of the global opera world, and they bring all their skills to this program. At last night's concert, to a full house at the amazing, historic QANTAS Founders Museum, I got a bit teary listening to this community singing some very familiar music, and watching the faces of the audiences, the families and community members for whom this program means so much.
Open Stage is at the very heart of what we do as OperaQ - it's every bit as important to us as the mainstage program in Brisbane. We'd love to see music and creative expression touch every community in Queensland, so watch this space.
It was great to be able to share news of our Longreach program with guests at our 2014 Launch on Monday night (see pics below), and fabulous to be finally able to reveal our exciting plans for next year, especially our big news about Philip Glass's controversial new opera about Walt Disney - The Perfect American. This project is an important moment for us as a company, showing OperaQ in a completely new light. It's a hugely ambitious, global, contemporary pop culture event, the sort of major project we could only imagine doing alongside partners of the calibre of Brisbane Festival and QPAC. One of the great things about Brisbane right now is the spirit of collaboration among arts colleagues. It's great for us, great for artists, great for audiences.
Collaborations are vital to our future as a company and as an art form. I've been thrilled at the response to Abandon, our first OperaQ Studio project to be seen in Brisbane, in partnership with our friends at Dancenorth and the Brisbane Powerhouse. And I'm excited to be recreating my New Zealand Opera production of Rigoletto here in Brisbane, to be working in the studio with Maestro Johannes Fritzsch again, with a terrific new cast of some of Australia's finest singers.
The loveliest moment of the launch on Monday night was our La bohème excerpt, lovingly arranged by Narelle French, which charmed and embraced the audience in the Spiegeltent, and reminded me once more me why I so love those magical round wooden structures. I spent a lot of time in Spiegeltents in my previous life as a Festival Director and they are my absolute favourite place for intimate performance experiences. The Bohème excerpt, with singers surrounding and walking through the audience showed how perfect it is for un-amplified voices too. It was fun to unleash those crazy Bohemians, led by Emily Burke as Musetta and Shaun Brown as Marcello on a surprised audience, fill the air with snow and watch the magic of theatre happen.
There are moments that remind me how very lucky I am to be in this job, and this week I had two of those moments on Monday in the Spiegeltent and last night at Longreach.
Back in Brisbane tonight for more Brisbane Festival excitement!
At the launch with The Honourable Campbell Newman MP, Premier of Queensland
Annie Lower and Virgilio Marino - some of our Bohemians from launch