SERBIAN mezzo soprano Jana Momirovic will sing arias from Bizet’s “Carmen”, Donizetti’s “La Favorita” and Franz Lehár’s “Giuditta” at the upcoming “Opera By Candlelight” at Albert Hall.
“When I first heard Jana in Vienna in 2014, I was thrilled by her wonderful voice and stage presence,” says organiser Carl Rafferty who says he tried unsuccessfully to bring her to Canberra last year. However, he was able to snaffle her up this year because she’s on her way to perform in China.
Another visitor will be Polish coloratura soprano Marta Nowicka, who was here two years ago.
Rafferty is also bringing young Australian singers from Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to the stage, including bass-baritone Matthew Phillips, of Blaxland, NSW, winner of the Fairleigh Vocal Scholarship in 2018, who will sing Dario’s aria “Ombra Fedele anch’io” from Riccardo Broschi’s “Idaspe”.
Phillips, says Rafferty, is possessed of “one of the rarest of voices – a genuine basso-profundo capable of dropping to the bottom of the operatic registers with a rich velvety resonance.”
The show itself, Rafferty boasts happily, has “no boring bits” and is already great value at $80 a seat, with candelabra, white tablecloths and a gift of wine included.
Guests are invited to feed themselves by bringing a “picnic”, but in a new venture, he’s asked the former proprietor of Vivaldi’s at ANU, Mark Santos, to cater for tables (not individuals) if patrons prefer not to bring their own banquet.
“Opera By Candlelight” will now be a once-a-year operation, Rafferty says.
“But we’ve been doing cocktail concerts and other performances at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery and will continue that, starting again in March,” he says.
Rafferty has pretty well solved the problem of how to tolerate Canberra winters by spending every May, June and July in Vienna. His soprano daughter Kate, now married, lives and performs there while Carl, a formidable pianist himself, accompanies Kate and other young singers, also seeking out talent to bring here.
As part of his regular collaborations with established singers, he’s travelling to Europe this year with soprano Cheryl Barker and her baritone husband Peter Coleman-Wright on a grand tour of master classes and recitals.
“Opera by Candlelight”, Albert Hall, February 15, 16 and 17. Book at operabycandlelight.net