Soprano Michelle Ryan, winner of the 2019 German-Australian Opera Grant was to have travelled to Wiesbaden, Germany, in June this year, as her prize, to train and perform with the Hessisches Staatstheater. The COVID-19 pandemic placed a cruel stop to these plans and Michelle is patiently biding her time until she can travel to Wiesbaden, “It is looking hopeful” she says, “as Germany is planning to allow students and contracted workers to enter the country after July 1. The theatre in Wiesbaden, re-opened in May to small audiences and I have felt supported by the German- Australian Opera Grant staff during this time, who are doing all they can to get me there.”
Born and raised in the Clarence Valley on the Far North Coast of NSW, Michelle moved back home from Sydney three months ago to live with her parents during the pandemic. Michelle had come to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Music Performance in Voice and the Graduate Diploma of Opera Studies at The Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She also studied at the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School in 2018 and was a Young Artist with Pacific Opera in 2019.
A regular performer with several vocal ensembles including Cantillation in productions with Pinchgut Opera, the Bach Akademie Australia and in festivals with The Song Company, Michelle was a finalist in the 2019 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship and the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation Bel Canto Award winning the DECCA award and the Tait Memorial Trust Award, enabling her to perform in London. Michelle joined the Extra Chorus with Opera Australia for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour for the 2020 production of La Traviata and was to cover the role of Annina.
During the enforced break, Michele has kept busy and enjoyed the respite. “It has continued to be a super pleasant and peaceful time in the Clarence Valley, doing my daily German and role study as well as a walk or jog amongst the canefields and going to the endless beautiful beaches that are available here. I am also really enjoying being with family and tutoring a number of students here in Harwood, which has truly been a highlight this past few months.”
“Another special highlight has been rehearsing and preparing this live performance video of Bachianas Brasileiras no.5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos with local guitarist Ryan Enns who also produced and edited this video. We were due to perform in concerts together in May but those concerts were cancelled. We were also lucky to have a small audience there who were watching some surfers that morning 🙂 Enjoy!”