Tenor tunes up for a noteworthy year
DAILY GRIND Becoming a professional singer has proved the perfect choice for a young man with a love of languages and music. Cameron Barclay tells Catherine Healy about the decision to follow his heart.
Whether he’s singing a biblical text, performing in an operetta or at a community fundraiser, 26-year-old Cameron Barclay loves his work.
‘‘Opera is the most satisfying, because it brings together so many different things.’’
He was particularly good at languages at school and won prizes from Alliance Francaise for his command of French. At university he began studying languages and law with the intention of becoming a diplomat.
But he soon became jealous of friends who were at the university’s school of music and abandoned law after a year.
‘‘Mum was worried. She’s a very pragmatic person. But she just wanted me to do well at whatever I’m doing and I think my singing is a source of pride for her now. She still worries about me making enough money.’’
Fortunately this is a busy year for the young tenor. He is about to embark on a New Zealand tour of The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Raymond Hawthorne. He’ll perform alongside George Henare, Helen Medlyn and Geraldine Brophy. He’s off to Melbourne with Operatunity and then to Japan to understudy a couple of the main roles in Ken Hill’s the Opera.
He’ll then head to Europe for a round of auditions, the goal being to secure a position as a professional singer there.
As a 17-year-old Mr Barclay spent a year in Italy. He goes back every year to visit the family who billeted him and speaks to them every week.
‘‘I think a stint of my working life will be spent in Italy, the UK or Germany. That’s where a lot of the work is.
‘‘The lifestyle is better here though. Kiwis like to come
Phantom of home to they?’’
He says one of the highlights of the job is working with like-minded people.
‘‘There are hours of slog when you’re learning lines. That can be quite dry.’’
But exploring beautiful pieces of music every day from his home on the side of Mt Hobson is a dream. In between rehearsals and tours he is master of his own time.
‘‘It’s a bit seductive and it can slip away from you. You have to treat it like a job and
settle down, don’t structure your days. In a regular job, if you turn up and have a bad day, you still get paid. If I have a bad day, people are watching.
‘‘And you’re always judged on your last performance. You have to have a thick skin but also be really receptive.
‘‘You have to know what your bag of tricks is. Generally the stuff that speaks to you most is what you’re good at. When you tune into that, you can’t go wrong.’’
Top voice: Former Dilworth student Cameron Barclay is a tenor with a passion for opera.