NECOM has been overwhelmed with the response to Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly presented by the New England Conservatorium, performed at Lazenby Hall on Thursday 9 August.
The sell-out show was a huge success, made all the more exciting with the addition of 20 NECOM choristers. The performance was a culmination of four months of effort for the young singers who were selected during an extensive audition process in April, followed by several rehearsals and lots of practising at home to learn the pieces that they would be performing with the Opera Australia cast.
In the final lead up to the performance, Opera Australia’s choirmaster, Josh van Konkelenberg helped the choristers put the finishing touches on their vocal performances and how they were to perform onstage, listening out for cues and making sure they were able to hit their marks. Mr van Konkelenberg was scheduled to conduct two workshops to ensure the young choristers were ready to perform with the professionals but was so impressed with the preparedness of the choir that he decided they were completely ready after only one.
The team from Opera Australia well and truly made the most of their time in Armidale, with a number of Opera Australia’s instrumentalists conducting masterclasses with NECOM HSC students. Additionally, their chorus master held scholarship auditions offering one lucky student in a regional area the chance to study with Opera Australia.
The day of the performance was incredibly busy for the Children’s Chorus singers, with costume fittings, dress rehearsals and the long-awaited performance in the evening. Each of the children was dressed in traditional Japanese village costumes, with many of the girls wearing kimonos for the first time.
Each of the pieces were performed perfectly, with the children very obviously excited to be performing in front of their home audience while maintaining a very high level of professionalism.
When the curtain finally closed and most of the audience had gone home, the worn out children emerged wearing dressing gowns and waving fans, a gift from the show, to a huge round of applause from parents and family waiting for them.
A huge congratulations to each and every chorister, choir leader Leanne Roobol, and all the family and friends who helped the choristers achieve such a brilliant result.
Caitlyn Livingston, children’s coordinator for Opera Australia’s regional touring company was happy to share with us after the performance: “Opera Australia was excited to return to Armidale for the 11th time, and more so to work with the wonderful students from the New England Conservatorium, many of whom were there for their third production since the inclusion of a local Children’s Chorus in 2014. Their dedication, focus and enthusiasm shone through, resulting in a wonderful performance from all.”