Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - Tanya MacNaughton

JENNA Robert­son has traded in her pre­vi­ous Oper­abox role of Tu­dor queen Anna Bolena for tat­tooed bur­lesque dancer Zer­bi­netta in the com­pany’s Septem­ber pro­duc­tion of Ari­adne auf Naxos.

She will play the po­lar op­po­site to Mel­bourne so­prano Fiona Jop­son’s char­ac­ter Ari­adne.

“This is a very dif­fer­ent role in a very dif­fer­ent and dif­fi­cult opera,” Robert­son said.

“It fol­lows the story of a rich man who hires two com­pa­nies to come to his house to per­form; one is an opera com­pany and the other is a com­edy cabaret troupe.

“The or­der of events is that the opera com­pany is meant to per­form this new opera first and then there’s a com­edy show af­ter­wards.

“The first half of the opera is all the back­stage an­tics and bick­er­ing and games be­tween the two com­pa­nies be­fore they’re told they’ve run out of time and must per­form si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

“The two com­pa­nies have to im­pro­vise and merge their works into one; it’s fas­ci­nat­ing and def­i­nitely may­hem.”

It will be the first time the Richard Strauss opera, sung in Ger­man with English sub­ti­tles, will be per­formed in WA with an or­ches­tra.

The team of more than 35 mu­si­cians will be led by for­mer WASO as­sis­tant con­duc­tor Christo­pher Dragon, who will re­turn to Aus­tralia for sev­eral en­gage­ments dur­ing a break from the Colorado Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, where he is as­so­ciate con­duc­tor.

“It’s an am­bi­tious piece that re­quires par­tic­u­lar types of singers, good or­ches­tra play­ers and a lot of peo­ple don’t at­tempt it,” Robert­son said.

“Our cast of 13 is very ca­pa­ble of do­ing it and so is the or­ches­tra but that’s not to say that we’re all slightly ter­ri­fied.”

Robert­son, who was born in north Scot­land near Aberdeen and stud­ied in Ed­in­burgh, moved to Perth eight years ago with her Aus­tralian hus­band and has con­tin­ued her pas­sion for opera by per­form­ing with Oper­abox and in the WA Opera Cho­rus.

She has al­ways had a pas­sion for singing and clas­si­cal mu­sic.

“When I was a kid I loved the Dis­ney movie Fan­ta­sia,” Robert­son said.

“I was al­ways drawn to clas­si­cal mu­sic and it went from there; it’s the most chal­leng­ing, rich and in­ter­est­ing mu­sic for me.

“Opera ob­vi­ously is a com­bi­na­tion of beau­ti­ful clas­si­cal mu­sic with all the act­ing and el­e­ments of the­atre as well; there is noth­ing that can beat it.”

Ari­adne auf Naxos will be per­formed at Joy Shep­herd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre at St Hilda’s Angli­can School for Girls, Mos­man Park, on Septem­ber 9, 11 and 16.

The com­pany will also present a spe­cial con­cert per­for­mance (with­out set) at Dar­ling­ton Hall on Septem­ber 13.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d458353

Mel­bourne-based so­prano Fiona Jop­son (left) with singer Jenna Robert­son.

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