What is a Pocket Opera? It’s an abridged version of a longer work trimmed down to all the best arias and musical pieces. A quick fix for those in a hurry, but also an ideal vehicle to showcase talent in a storyline production on a smaller scale. 

Pacific Opera has been supporting and nurturing the talent of tomorrow’s up and coming Opera stars since 2003. They offer masterclasses, training on the practical side of stagecraft and performing opportunities to a select few each year. Working with a slim line version of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra they presented a pocket version of The Marriage of Figaro on Saturday night. Using the Concert Hall of The Concourse, Chatswood they created a raised stage surrounded by blacks with simple props and scenery with the orchestra out front.

Conductor Luke Spicer did an excellent job drawing orchestra and singers together. Costumes were set in the 1920s with faux fur and paisley for the Countess (Hannah Greenshields), a dapper Panama hat and lemon striped suit for the Music Teacher Basilio (Daniel Verschuer), smoking jacket for the Count (Andrew Dickson), knit vest and soft cap for Cherubino (Nicole Mealey) and a perfect little 1920’s maid’s costume for Susanna (Rachel Mink). Other future stars featured were Timothy Nunn as the title role Figaro, Lyla Levy-Jordan as Marcellina, Olivia Morberger as Barbarina and Nicholas Geddes as Antonio.

Direction for the opera by veteran professionals Cheryl Barker and Peter Coleman-Wright was fun, clean and clear cut. This made the dizzying confusion of a story line (which is an absolute necessity for Opera Buffa) into something easy for the audience to follow. 

The performance began a little hesitantly but, as we moved through the scenes, confidence grew and the acting/singing became more bold. There are some excellent voices blooming within the group. It’s a pity a longer season is not possible as this would give each performer the chance to develop their relationships between the characters as well as “business” on stage of what to do between directed actions… something only experience can provide.

Not to worry though. Pacific Opera already has their next pocket opera planned. 

They are well worth supporting and a must-see if you like to go talent spotting for the next big Australia opera star.

Watch out for more concerts, recitals and pocket sized operas here:

Pacific Opera:

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra: 

Production photography by Robert Catto

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