Here Comes The Bride: Opera star Julie Lea Good­win

Opera star Julie Lea Good­win dis­cusses her lead role as iden­ti­cal twins in Opera Aus­tralia’s “Two Wed­dings, One Bride”, writes Roshan Sukhla.

Where Sydney - - Contents -

OPERA AUS­TRALIA’S PRO­DUC­TION of “Two Wed­dings, One Bride” opens this month at the Syd­ney Opera House. We sat down with star Julie Lea Good­win to talk about her il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer and per­form­ing in the ma­jes­tic Opera House.

Tell us about your role in “Two Wed­dings, One Bride”. I play iden­ti­cal twin girls Girofla and Giroflé. They are so iden­ti­cal in fact that one wears pink and the other wears blue in or­der to tell them apart. Yes, the show is a com­edy! I have quite a bit of fun on stage with the two char­ac­ters and their dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. On the day of their wed­dings the sassy in­de­pen­dent Girofla is taken away by pi­rates and her sweet sis­ter Giroflé is forced to deal with two wed­dings! There are many cos­tume changes for me, lots of singing and it’s a non-stop 90 min­utes! Was singing some­thing you al­ways wanted to do? Yes, it was. I loved singing and danc­ing as a child and feel so lucky to have made it my ca­reer. My first pro­fes­sional jobs were lead­ing roles in mu­si­cal the­atre, which was a won­der­ful start, be­fore join­ing Opera Aus­tralia. I have to say, I love so many as­pects of a per­former’s life and I still pinch my­self ev­ery time I ar­rive at the beau­ti­ful sails of the Syd­ney Opera House.

From the trailer for “Two Wed­dings, One Bride”, it looks to be quite a funny and hu­mor­ous op­eretta. Do you en­joy the comedic as­pects of the show? How does it dif­fer from some of your other more dra­matic opera roles?

This is def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent style pro­duc­tion to any­thing I’ve done be­fore and a much more in­ti­mate per­form­ing space than I’m used to. Ul­ti­mately, this show is a crowd pleaser with lots of known tunes and light­hearted com­edy, which of course makes it en­joy­able to be part of but it’s also non-stop high en­ergy with a large vo­cal range and plenty of high notes, which makes it de­mand­ing in its own way. For­tu­nately, I’ve man­aged to play var­ied roles so far in my ca­reer with each char­ac­ter be­ing quite unique and each pro­duc­tion chal­leng­ing me in dif­fer­ent ways.

What makes op­erettas dif­fer­ent to nor­mal operas? Do you en­joy one more than the other? There are so many dif­fer­ent types of opera de­pend­ing on the pe­riod and style, but op­eretta dis­tin­guishes it­self by be­ing light and hu­mor­ous, fairly short, with spo­ken dia­logue as well as tune­ful melodies usu­ally in the na­tive lan­guage (for us English!). All of this makes op­eretta ac­ces­si­ble to the gen­eral pub­lic as well as ex­ist­ing opera lovers. I adore grand opera with its in­tense drama and lush mu­sic, but I also love a fun night in the the­atre! Ul­ti­mately, any pro­duc­tion is only as good as the peo­ple in it. That’s what makes it spe­cial!

How does it feel to per­form at the Syd­ney Opera House? Do you re­mem­ber your first performance here? It was a dream of mine as a child so it feels pretty amazing! It’s such an iconic venue to per­form in, and can I just say

it has a spec­tac­u­lar view of the har­bour from in­side! I first per­formed solo in the Con­cert Hall of the Syd­ney Opera House as a school stu­dent in a con­cert called “En­core”, which cel­e­brates the high­est achiev­ing per­form­ers in the state. I was so sur­prised and thrilled to be cho­sen and it made me re­ally keen to one day per­form in the Opera The­atre across the hall. I made it into that the­atre as a ‘young artist’ with Opera Aus­tralia some years later. My first lead­ing prin­ci­pal role was as Su­sanna in a brand new pro­duc­tion of “The Mar­riage of Fi­garo”. I re­mem­ber feel­ing hum­bled, ex­cited and ner­vous. Su­sanna is a lovely lead­ing role for a young so­prano and a very long role to learn. It was a spe­cial first, oh and the first time I wore a fit­ted boned corset!

What has been the high­light of your ca­reer so far? Sev­eral high­lights. Chris­tine in “The Phan­tom of the Opera” was my first pro­fes­sional en­gage­ment and some­thing I will al­ways cher­ish. It was an in­cred­i­ble two years of my life and the most amazing in­tro­duc­tion to the world of pro­fes­sional the­atre. Maria in “West Side Story” was a dream role. I love play­ing Musetta in “La Bo­hème” be­cause she’s such a fire­cracker. My first big prin­ci­pal opera role at the Syd­ney Opera House (Su­sanna in “Le Nozze di Fi­garo”) was rather spe­cial. And I’d have to say singing at the Car­ols in the Do­main was a high­light. It’s tele­vised na­tion­wide and has such a happy en­ergy both back­stage and on­stage.

What other roles do you have com­ing up this year? “Two Wed­dings, One Bride” is run­ning for sev­eral months this year so it’s keep­ing me busy. I’m thrilled to be per­form­ing in “Par­si­fal” star­ring su­per­star Jonas Kauf­mann, as well as a new pro­duc­tion of “The Merry Widow” later this year.

“I still pinch my­self ev­ery time I ar­rive at the beau­ti­ful sails of the Syd­ney Opera House.”

John Bolton Wood as Philippe, Julie Lea Good­win as Giroflé/girofla and Geral­dine Turner as Aurore in Opera Aus­tralia’s 2017 pro­duc­tion of “Two Wed­dings, One Bride”. Photo: Pru­dence Upton.

Julie Lea Good­win as Giroflé/girofla and An­drew Jones as Gen­eral Modigliani in Opera Aus­tralia’s 2017 pro­duc­tion of “Two Wed­dings, One Bride”. Photo: Pru­dence Upton.

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