The Olympics of the voice: ‘Voices in the Forest’

CANBERRA might not have the benefit of visits by Opera Australia, but, creative director and current Canberra City News Artist of the Year Christopher Latham suggested today, we do have “Voices in the Forest.”

Peter Coleman-Wrigth ssignese Exscamillo's 'March of the Toreadors,' accompanied by Alan Hicks

Peter Coleman-Wright sings ‘The March of the Toreadors’ with Alan Hicks accompanying

Latham described the event coming up on November 30 as “a gift to the city coming from the private sector… a gift of love.”

To MC Philip Clark from Radio 666, the success of this event, which sees thousands cramming into the outside amphitheatre at the national arboretum proves that Canberra is a city looking to its future, moving from being an old capital to a new capital.

To ACT Arts Minister, Joy Burch, the likelihood that “voices” would become an iconic national event was apparent, “we are just about there,” she said as she launched the 2014 event, the fourth in a row.

To Bob Winnel, managing director of the events, principal sponsor, Village Building, the annual concert made it “good to be in Canberra listening to something uplifting.” From its modest beginnings, he explained, numbers would be up around the 5000 mark this year with an ultimate aim of 6500. Winnel cautioned, however, that tickets only pay $300,000 of the $500,000 needed to stage “Voices in the Forest.” Luckily they had gratis use of the arboretum at a tender generous sponsors to make up the difference.

All those launching the events approach expressed excitement at the line up of local, national and international talent for 2014, headed up by Latvian soprano Inessa Galante, who made Caccini’s “Ave Maria” a worldwide hit. Latham, who praised the softness of her voice, played us “Ave Maria” forget is in the mood.

Galante will be joined by New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill, and Opera Australia’s Coleman-Wright. The latter treated us to our rousing round of “the March of the toreadors” from carbon and a complete tearjerker, Rogers and Hammerstein’s “This Nearly Was Mine,” proof apparent that the formula of mixing opera and songs from musical theatre is likely to be as pleasing to the crowds as ever.

Canberra mezzosoprano and high tenor Tim dal Cortivo will be holding up the Broadway side of the November show, we heard.

As well, O’Neill, the heroic tenor with the “voice like a trumpet,” will be singing Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” a regular part of the event.

Latham used the occasion to propose a theory: “there are only three species that can sing – birds, whales, and humans,” he told us, “we can pretty well create anything we like with our larynx… and opera is basically the Olympics of the voice.”

2014 “Voices in the Forest”, at the National Arboretum, Sunday, November 30, 4.45pm-8.30pm. Bookings to and all event details at


One Response to “The Olympics of the voice: ‘Voices in the Forest’”

  1. Jennifer
    June 16, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Actually, Opera Australia will be in Canberra in September with The Magic Flute!

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