Celebrating women of opera

Eleanor Greenwood.

By Khrysti Balanay

Rockhampton is set to be dazzled with a stunning performance by Opera Queensland as they start their regional tour of The Sopranos.

Written by Sarah Holland-Batt, The Sopranos celebrates the bold and rebellious roles women have played throughout the history of opera.

With a repertoire of songs, including The Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute to contemporary pieces by Dolly Parton, it is a performance not to be missed.

CQ Today was able to speak with Laura Hansford, the artistic associate at Opera Queensland and the director of the regional touring show ahead of The Sopranos performance at the Pilbeam Theatre on Thursday night.

“The last time we performed at the Pilbeam was Ruddigore in 2018, so it has been a while,” she said.

“It’s funny because Rockhampton seems like a second home for Opera Queensland because we have such a wonderful connection with the community there.

“We have worked with different artists within the community for different projects such as our choir at Beef Week.

“I love returning to Rockhampton because of the great support.”

Growing up in far-north Queensland before moving to the Gold Coast, Laura has been working with Opera Queensland for the past ten years.

“I fell in love with an art form that puts story-telling and music above everything else,” she said.

“As an artist, I enjoy seeing people who get to know the music that isn’t necessarily from their usual genres.

“Also to surprise people with what opera could sound like or by taking contemporary pieces and putting a classical spin on them.”

The Sopranos has just finished its main stage season in the Concert Hall at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and has been transformed to fit a regional tour.

“The Sopranos was originally created for the QPAC stage where it had a 40 person chorus, an 80 person orchestra and 12 different sopranos and a couple of baritones,” Laura said.

“We have essentially taken that concert and concentrated it to fit a regional tour.

“The performers on this tour can switch from singing a 400-hundred-year-old song in Italian to singing something by Dolly Parton which I think is really interesting.”

The Sopranos is staged in two thematic parts. The first act addresses the challenges and crises women have faced in opera.

The second examines their strength and tenacity in responding to those challenges.

“It is a journey through the history of opera and music,” Laura said.

“It visits some of the most powerful moments seen on stage, selected from 15 different operas from the past 400-hundred years.

“The Sopranos threads these stories of operatic and musical heroines to a tapestry of vulnerability and strength weaved with poetry and song.

“It’s putting all these women and their stories together and looking at how they have moved through history.”

The Sopranos Regional Tour is supported through Arts Queensland and is presented by Rockhampton Regional Council and Opera Queensland.

Tickets for the performance at the Pilbeam Theatre on Thursday, 12 May at 7.30pm are available from the See It Live website.