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.
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.