By Leona Geeves
I attended the concert given by the Opera Foundation for Young Australians on Sunday 15 November at the Art Gallery of NSW.
The Wagner Society has in the past funded the air fare for an award given by this Foundation which provides several awards for young Australian singers, such as the Berlin Music Opera Award (formerly the Bayreuth Scholarship Award). The concert was compèred with great style by iconic baritone, Peter Coleman-Wright AO, Artistic Director of Pacific Opera, and his own new company, National Opera, Canberra.
The Foundation in the past has had an annual competition with finalists announced on the night. But this year the presentation differed, and it featured prizewinners from previous years. Strict Covid procedures were in place – no food served, only champagne, which had to be consumed sitting down, and socially distanced seating, as well as the regulation hand sanitiser.
The three singers were soprano, Eleanor Lyons, formerly of Sydney and now based in Europe with her husband and small daughter, Winner of the 2018 Vienna State Opera Award, Sydney soprano (formerly mezzo), Bronwyn Douglass, winner of the 2017 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship, and Sydney bass, David Parkin, winner of the 2019 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship and 2013 Vienna State Opera Award, who first came to notice when he won Operatunity Oz.
Also scheduled to sing, but unable to because of the closing of Queensland borders, mezzo, Xenia Puskarz Thomas, Winner of the 2018 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship.
Bronwyn and David are two budding Wagnerian singers, with wonderful voices. Bronwyn, just moving into the dramatic soprano repertoire, was to have sung in Melbourne Opera’s Das Rheingold, and David is covering Hagen, Fafner and Fasolt in Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle in Brisbane.
Ah! Guarda sorella, Cosi fan tutte Mozart. Eleanor Lyons & Bronwyn Douglass
In diesen heil’gen Hallen, The Magic Flute Mozart. David Parkin
Soave sia il vento, Così fan tutte Mozart.
Eleanor Lyons, Bronwyn Douglass & David Parkin
In the break a message of thanks was given by Elia Bosshard, design and visual artist, and winner of the Berlin Music Opera Award, whose time in Berlin was cut short by Covid.
Dich, teure Halle, Tannhäuser Wagner. Bronwyn Douglass
Marfa’s Aria, The Tsar’s Bride Rimsky-Korsakov. Eleanor Lyons
Hier sitz ich zur Wacht, Götterdämmerung Wagner. David Parkin
Mira, o Norma Norma Bellini. Eleanor Lyons & Bronwyn Douglass
I won’t send Roses, Mack & Mabel Herman. David Parkin
Associate Artist - Alan Hicks
The talented team closed the evening by singing a chorus, Some Other Time, from Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town, with Peter filling in the mezzo line, which would have been sung by Xenia Puskarz Thomas. Leona Geeves and David Parkin
It was a marvelous evening after such a vocal drought and we look forward to hearing these young singers in some Wagner events soon.
The Opera Foundation for young Australians is a non-profit organisation, founded by Lady Fairfax AC OBE and is celebrating some 60 years of providing international opportunities for young Australians in the field of opera. The Foundation bridges the professional gap for young singers and artists in order to commence an international career.
[From the December 2020 Quarterly]