‘Juke­box of hits’ for 50th

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Opera - Tanya MacNaughton

WA Opera turns 50 in 2017 and will cel­e­brate at the an­nual free event Opera in the Park by pre­sent­ing a spe­cial 50th gala con­cert at Supreme Court Gar­dens on Fe­bru­ary 4.

Perth per­former and di­rec­tor Bren­dan Han­son has worked with the His Majesty’s Theatre-based com­pany for 25 years.

The WAAPA grad­u­ate has since carved out a ca­reer, in­clud­ing Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany pro­duc­tions and di­rect­ing at WAAPA. For the past four years, he has di­rected and writ­ten for WA Opera’s school out­reach pro­gram.

Han­son’s evo­lu­tion to di­rect­ing the 50th gala con­cert seemed like a log­i­cal next step.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to the night be­cause Opera in the Park is usu­ally a ful­l­length opera and this year is dif­fer­ent be­cause it’s more like a juke­box of opera hits,” he said.

“We had to come up with a great line-up of reper­toire and artis­tic di­rec­tor Brad Co­hen has done a won­der­ful job.

“There’s not a sin­gle num­ber that peo­ple won’t know, with Mozart and Verdi and Donizetti, Bizet, Puc­cini and Wag­ner,” he said.

Co­hen will con­duct WASO and WA Opera Cho­rus, which will be joined by prin­ci­pal artists Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Emma Pear­son, Fiona Camp­bell, Sam Roberts-Smith and Vir­gilio Marino.

“We’re re­quest­ing peo­ple come in evening dress or dress up as an opera char­ac­ter; go for broke be­cause it’s re­ally a cel­e­bra­tion of the art form and an op­por­tu­nity to have some fun,” Han­son said.

“We even have a bit of opera karaoke with a sin­ga­long sec­tion on the night; I’m ex­cited to hear ev­ery­one par­tic­i­pate.”

Han­son said much of WA Opera’s suc­cess came down to the com­pany’s com­mu­nity out­reach.

“They’ve con­tin­ued dur­ing their 50 years to en­sure they are a part of the state and not just for an elite group of peo­ple by putting on pro­grams like Opera in the Park,” he said.

“It’s mak­ing sure they are do­ing some­thing for afi­ciona­dos and fans but also mak­ing sure there is some­thing there each year for new­bies; some­thing that could in­ter­est you to en­gage with the art form.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d464284

Bren­dan Han­son.

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