Watching soloists take their curtain calls absorbing the appreciation of the audience, the rise to solo status seems so easy; a natural progression. The scenario belies their years of training and practice, the personal and financial sacrifices, and the unerring focus on the longer term goals.
Tenor Edmond Choo has his goals firmly in sight. In September this year, Choo leaves his position in the chorus of Opera Australia and a budding solo career, to undertake a two year Masters of Performance programme at the Royal College of Music. To fund his costs, Choo has undertaken an innovative fundraising strategy. “Living and studying in the UK won’t come cheap and I believe I’ll need to raise $125,000 to make this happen,” he says. “I decided to present a series of fundraising events and asked for some support from my colleagues and friends within Opera Australia. I’ve been overwhelmed by their generosity to help!”
Choo has arranged four fundraising events from July to September – a dual session Q and A, “Opera Under the Microscope” a gala concert and two recitals.
“Opera Under the Microscope” is especially for opera fans to discover more about how an opera production comes to the stage. Scanning the lists of guest panellists, these sessions will be a rare opportunity to interact with those we usually see costumed and bewigged as well as those who fulfil vital roles back stage in production and artist management.
Hosted by the ABC’s Damien Beaumont, the participants in the first session include Amelia Farrugia (soprano), Glenn Winslade (tenor), Jacqueline Dark (mezzo-soprano), Kanen Breen (tenor), Tony Legge (Assistant Music Director, Opera Australia), Brian Castles-Onion (Conductor/Répétiteur), Moffatt Oxenbould (Director), Andrew Keshan (Head of Performing Wigs & Makeup) and Rebecca Ritchie (Wardrobe Production Manager).
In the second session, Moffat Oxenbould will host a panel that includes Roxane Hislop (mezzo-soprano), Michael Lewis (baritone), Nicole Youl (soprano), Samuel Dundas (baritone / Young Artist Program), Nicole Car (soprano / Young Artist Program), Matthew Barclay (Senior Resident Director), Chrissie Higgins (Senior Stage Manager), Michael Scott-Mitchell (Head of Design, NIDA) and Patrick Togher (Artists’ Management).
Pianist Jennifer Marten-Smith will accompany the performers.
The historic 1922 Marrickville Town Hall is the venue for the Gala Concert in an afternoon of fabulous music making. Tenor Rosario La Spina and soprano Anke Hoppner will be joined by other principals of Opera Australia Milijana Nikolic, Barry Ryan, Henry Choo, Nicole Car, Richard Anderson, Sian Pendry, Samuel Dundas, Edmond Choo, Teresa La Rocca, Christopher Hillier and members of the Opera Australia Chorus accompanied by the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra performing some of the favourites from opera.
Choo himself will present two concerts with pianist Allison Hillier – “Love Lust and Devotion” which he describes as “a beautiful selection of operatic arias, duets and art songs exploring what makes us love the people we do, lust for those we shouldn’t and devote our lives to the pursuit of passion”. Performing with him will be special guest Dóra Ármannsdóttir, soprano. In the afternoon’s programme will be selections by Mozart, Donizetti, Hahn, Fauré, Strauss and many more.
In the final concert,” Romance Through Song”, Choo will perform Schumann’s Dichterliebe ,opus 48. He is joined by Christopher Hillier peforming selection of German lieder, French chanson and Italian art songs.
Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than this level of enterprise, is the unstinting way in which the breadth of the opera world has gathered to support this rising star.
“I’m honoured that so many industry colleagues have shown so much faith in my talent and my wish to take my career to new levels,” says Edmond. “I hope that in presenting these events I’ll build a strong connection with the general public who will hopefully one day be hearing me sing leading roles in the Sydney Opera House. That is my dream.”
Tickets: 3 concerts (Opera Under the Microscope and two recitals) $108/$90
Above 3 concerts + Marrickville Gala $144.50/$119
Visit www.edmondchoo.com or call 0438 455 680 for bookings.
See our interview with Edmond Choo “High Cs a Breeze…”