AIDA AL­FRESCO

LIS­TEN TO SOAR­ING SOPRANOS WITH SAND BE­TWEEN YOUR TOES

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY MAC­DON­ALD

When An­naLouise Cole takes cen­tre stage in the leg­endary Egyp­tian opera Aida flanked by live camels, Gold Coast au­di­ences won’t have to imag­ine the sand be­tween their toes.

With bright lights, ex­plo­sive drama and a sandy set­ting, Verdi’s fa­mous opera is the per­fect choice for the Coolan­gatta set­ting, ac­cord­ing to Anna-Louise.

The event fol­lows on from the in­cred­i­ble suc­cess of The Magic Flute, which was staged at Green­mount Beach in 2014.

“I love that opera on the beach is so demo­cratic,” An­naLouise says.

“Ticket prices are so rea­son­able and you’re get­ting a fully staged opera with all the won­der­ful sets and cos­tumes while you sit there in the sand.”

With more than 50 of Anna-Louise’s fam­ily and friends from both sides of the bor­der com­ing along to watch her play the prin­ci­pal role of Aida – which she shares with Na­talie Aroyan – you’d bet­ter get in quick to se­cure your spot.

Al­though this will be her first time per­form­ing in Opera on the Beach, Anna-Louise is no stranger to the glit­ter strip.

It was the lo­ca­tion of many a beloved child­hood hol­i­day and she still comes back for her yearly dose of Gold Coast as an adult with her in-laws liv­ing in the Tweed.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to Ri­p­ley’s and Cur­rumbin Sanc­tu­ary and get­ting cov­ered with birds,” Anna-Louise says.

“I had two younger sis­ters who were blown away by the dol­phins at Sea World but what I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber is the surf.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to Broad­beach when I was 11 and even though I was a good swim­mer and I was be­tween the flags I still got blown off my feet.

“I know you re­mem­ber things as be­ing big­ger than they ac­tu­ally are as a child but I’ve gone back as an adult and no, it’s still full on.”

In much the same way Anna-Louise is wowed by the swell, au­di­ences are sure to be over­come by the pow­er­ful so­prano.

Al­though she sang through­out high school and grad­u­ated from the Mel­bourne Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic, Anna-Louise spent a decade as a pub­lic ser­vant be­fore be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional opera singer.

Through­out her years work­ing on so­cial pol­icy as a bu­reau­crat, Anna-Louise, now 36, con­tin­ued singing on smaller pro­duc­tions with Mel­bourne Opera and Vic­to­rian Opera be­fore fi­nally gath­er­ing the courage to au­di­tion for Opera Aus­tralia.

“It is an enor­mous ma­chine with so much ex­per­tise. I was blown away by this as a lit­tle pub­lic ser­vant,” An­naLouise says.

“I spent the first three years in the cho­rus and then moved from Mel­bourne to Syd­ney to start with them full time just over two years ago.

“I have a voice on the louder end of the scale and they say the big­ger the voice the longer it takes to de­velop.

“You wouldn’t want to at­tempt the lead in Aida at much younger than I am.

“You sim­ply wouldn’t have the life ex­pe­ri­ence or phys­i­cal stamina.”

As well as the seven prin­ci­ple per­form­ers, a com­mu­nity cho­rus of 50 vol­un­teers, many with years of ex­pe­ri­ence, have been cho­sen from the lo­cal re­gion to sup­port them.

A full-size orches­tra will per­form in har­mony with the crash­ing waves and fire­works will det­o­nate through­out the ex­plo­sive tale.

Aida will be per­formed tra­di­tion­ally in Ital­ian with sur­titles with the English trans­la­tion to be pro­jected on to large screens for the au­di­ence.

Anna-Louise doesn’t be­lieve the lan­guage bar­rier should be a rea­son for first time opera go­ers to stay away and nei­ther should the weather.

“If you’re in­ter­ested in a spec­tac­u­lar night out then Aida is it,” Anna-Louise says.

“There’s a love tri­an­gle, a jeal­ous princess try­ing to win the heart of the head of the army and a war be­tween Egypt and Ethiopia.

“And, yes, we do sing in the rain if it is just a shower. The cos­tumes and the wigs are spe­cially made to with­stand it. It’s ac­tu­ally quite fun.”

Aida Opera on the beach will show from Septem­ber 21 to 30 at Coolan­gatta. Chairs will be pro­vided in the pre­mium and Are­serve sec­tions only. Other ticket hold­ers can bring blan­kets or lowset beach chairs with a height of less than 80cm. Tick­ets start at $35. Visit opera.org.au/what­son/events/aida-on-the-beach

TICKET PRICES ARE SO REA­SON­ABLE AND YOU’RE GET­TING A FULLY STAGED OPERA WITH ALL THE WON­DER­FUL SETS AND COS­TUMES WHILE YOU SIT THERE IN THE SAND

Opera Aus­tralia's Anna-Louise Cole will star in Verdi’s oper­atic clas­sic Aida, which is be­ing staged on the beach at Coolan­gatta com­plete with a full-size orches­tra and fire­works.

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