See the sands of Coolangatta Beach trans­formed into the Egyp­tian shore­line when Opera Aus­tralia presents “Grif­fith Opera on the Beach—aida” this month. By Tiana Tem­ple­man

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RENOWNED AS ONE of the world’s great­est out­door op­eras, “Aida” will fea­ture some of Aus­tralia’s finest singers, dazzling fire­works, colour­ful cos­tumes and even surf life savers, who give the show a lo­cal twist. We caught up with Natalie Aroyan, who plays the ti­tle role in this pro­duc­tion, to learn more about “Aida” and the up­com­ing per­for­mances. Why do you think “Aida” is so pop­u­lar as an opera? “Aida” is a pro­found and in­ti­mate ex­plo­ration of the hu­man soul and ex­pe­ri­ence. The opera fo­cuses on the hero­ine’s strug­gle to choose be­tween the love for her fam­ily, the love for her coun­try or the love for her Egyp­tian hero, Radamès, and in­evitably en­dures the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of suf­fer­ing, which is an in­escapable part of the hu­man ex­is­tence. The au­di­ence shares Aida’s state of emo­tional tur­moil through the pas­sion­ate mu­sic of Verdi.

You ap­peared in an ear­lier Opera Aus­tralia pro­duc­tion of “Aida” as the High Priest­ess. How does the prin­ci­pal role of Aida dif­fer for you as a per­former? One of the main dif­fer­ences is this time I will ac­tu­ally be on stage, not be­hind it. High Priest­ess is usu­ally per­formed off­stage, and when I per­formed it for Opera Aus­tralia in my first year with the com­pany, I was sent back, way back off­stage.

Per­form­ing Aida comes with a greater amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity and a far greater amount of mu­sic to learn. I am so thrilled that I am now able to per­form this heroic role, and to be in front of the cur­tain.

What makes “Aida” a good choice for this unique per­for­mance? Its grandiose dis­play, its bal­lets and pro­ces­sions, its scenic vis­tas and ex­otic lo­cal colour—“aida” is go­ing to be a huge spec­ta­cle built upon the sands of Coolangatta Beach which will be trans­formed to the grandeur and myth­i­cal world of An­cient Egypt. Au­di­ences can ex­pect to be trans­ported to another place and time, lis­ten to the glo­ri­ous mu­sic of Verdi un­der the stars, all the while en­joy­ing the casual and beau­ti­ful out­door sur­rounds with fam­ily and friends.

What is your favourite mo­ment in the show? In Act 2, Aida’s duet with the Egyp­tian Princess Am­neris. Am­neris man­ages to shake Aida’s com­po­sure and tricks her into re­veal­ing her love for Radamès. This makes Am­neris fu­ri­ous. Aida sub­or­di­nates her pride and abases her­self be­fore Am­neris as she begs for pity. The mu­sic in this duet is sub­lime and the drama is so heated and pas­sion­ate, it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to show­case dif­fer­ent colours through the mu­sic and the text.

What do you love most about per­form­ing at an out­door event? I think one of the best fea­tures of open air con­certs is the am­biance; be­ing sur­rounded by the golden sands of the beach, the fresh breeze, the aroma from the sea, the gen­tle sound of the crash­ing waves, the sun trick­ling down on you or look­ing up at the glis­ten­ing stars in the sky while be­ing given the priv­i­lege to per­form such amaz­ing mu­sic.

What is the great­est chal­lenge for you as a per­former when you ap­pear out­doors? Al­though singing through a mi­cro­phone can be chal­leng­ing for opera singers, the am­biance, the open end­less back­drop of na­ture in front of you with thou­sands of peo­ple sit­ting and en­joy­ing them­selves in full view is in­com­pa­ra­bly awe in­spir­ing. It’s such a spe­cial treat to be part of such an in­spi­ra­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. And you just pray that a bug doesn’t fly into your mouth!

“Grif­fith Opera on the Beach—aida” is an all-weather event. If it does rain, how will this af­fect the per­form­ers? We will al­ways strive to per­form come rain or shine to give the au­di­ence the most en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. The event is an all-weather ex­pe­ri­ence and Opera Aus­tralia is com­mit­ted to go­ing ahead with a per­for­mance in doubt­ful or un­favourable weather con­di­tions. Hav­ing per­formed out­doors be­fore, it is so in­spir­ing to see au­di­ences sup­port­ing the singers by stay­ing and ap­plaud­ing them as they sing on in the rain.

What excites you about this pro­duc­tion of “Aida”? My dream role has al­ways been Aida. I have a great affin­ity to and in­ter­est in An­cient Egyp­tian his­tory. Hav­ing stud­ied the sub­ject in­tensely in high school, I trav­elled to Egypt and vis­ited all the an­cient sites with my mother, as it is her birth­place, and soaked in all the rich­ness of the cul­ture. That’s why I feel so close to this opera and por­tray­ing an Ethiopian Princess in the land and time of the an­cient Egyp­tians is a dream come true. To per­form this opera on such a grand scale, upon the sand dunes of ‘An­cient Egypt’, will be a truly mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

n “Grif­fith Opera on the Beach—aida” plays six per­for­mances from 21–30 Septem­ber at 6.30pm at Coolangatta Beach, Gold Coast. For more in­for­ma­tion and tick­ets visit

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