By Clinton White
WHEN interest in opera is enjoying a global resurgence, it is surprising the National Aria, this year called the Centenary Aria, attracted only a small audience to Albert Hall to enjoy some fine singing by our rising stars.Even more unfortunate was that the field of 14 competitors dwindled to just five, thanks to the ravages of flu and laryngitis.
Nevertheless, we were treated to some well-known arias from operas such as “Tosca” and “La Bohème”. There even was a lovely aria, perhaps more like a folk song demanding a good deal of vocal dynamics, range and control, from a 1955 American opera, “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd.
Sydney-based singing teacher, Dr Jean Callaghan, made the adjudications and was brief but sincere in her praise of all competitors. She wasted no time to announce that the in-demand Canberra soprano, Sonia Anfiloff, had won first prize and $5000, with Brisbane soprano, Monique Latemore, taking home $2000.
Next year the Australian National Eisteddfod Society celebrates 60 years in the business.
Canberra should celebrate the part it has played in launching many a fine international performing arts career. But it’s also a good opportunity for society president, Paul Barsdell and his committee to refresh and renew, and perhaps modernise its approach and policies in relation to these very important competitions.