Sydney Independent Gala Concert
Last night, I had a splendid transient moment of high culture as the Sydney Independent Opera theatre performed a concert of famous pieces; duets, arias and orchestral delights. Conductor Steven Stanke treated us to the Gala opening of the North Sydney theatre’s 2013 season, by inviting guest singers, Randall Stewart, Regina Daniels, Maia Andrews and Geoff Knight, to present their favourite pieces to perform to us. Each being a professional opera singer in their own right, they performed notable pieces from Rossini, Mozart, Strauss and in celebrating his 200th birthday, Verdi.
The orchestra was a small ensemble of woodwind, strings and brass but the venue was so grand and acoustically sound, their harmonies sounded glorious, (as they should, mind. They were performing commendable composers). Although the venue was magnificent, the auditorium wasn’t as full as I expected it to be and to be homest, this was the only disappointment of the night as it meant that only a select few, (perhaps family supporters) had experienced this grand night as well as I.
Randall Stewart’s voice is deep and rustic. As part of Opera Australia, his fullbodied enthusiasm told us a story as he sang up through with eyebrows. He was a pleasure to listen to, with such control of the stage and his voice. He is also to be commended for stepping up to fill in for Regina’s pieces. Unfortunately, Regina Daniels felt under the weather, but with some quick reorganising, the audience was entertained with extra pieces by Randall. I also extend a handshake to the orchestra for performing beautiful pieces they had only seen that night with the change of program.
Regina Daniels, although a little ill, sang what she could and had we not been told she was unwell, we wouldn’t have noticed. She has a stunning stage presence and an air of professionality. Her storytelling is at the essence of the opera experience- while I had not surtitles to comprehend the Italian, German and French, I understood what she was singing through her gesture.
Both Regina and Maia have a glittering record of professional endeavours, having performed in places such as the Sydney Conservatiorium and St Mary’s Cathedral. Maia’s voice is effortless and sweet and I’d like to have listened to her all night. Beautiful control and a sublime soprano, Maia is a young artist to follow into the limelight.
Geoff Knight has a voice of unrestrained power. He sings calmly and you can see he’s waiting for the big notes and when they came, they were so grand, so powerful. A singer from New Zealand, Australia should be glad to have him as an addition to Sydney’s music scene.
After a night of classical beauty, we were treated to an encore from Les Mis, definately a crowd pleaser. I recommend viewing Opera at the Sydney Independent Opera Theatre, it was truly a fantastic night. For more information please visit- http://www.sydneyindependentopera.com.au