A new year, a new opera

8 Jan 2013

Master of Music (Opera Performance) student Olivia Cranwell writes about preparations for Victorian Opera's first 2013 production, Sleeping Beauty.

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Olivia Cranwell in Victorian Opera's La Cenerentola. Photo: Morganna Magee

It is summer, the weather is warm, the beaches are inviting, there's tennis and cricket on the TV but at Victorian Opera the rehearsals are in full flight for Sleeping Beauty and for the month of January, I am living my childhood fantasy of wearing a gold crown and bringing the role of Queen Clementine to life.

Now in my second year of the Master of Music (Opera Performance) program in collaboration with Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, I am thrilled to be involved in many of Victorian Opera's shows in 2013. Having spent most of 2012 developing the necessary music, language and stagecraft skills to perform with the professional company I am excited to be given the opportunity to perform a number of roles this year ranging from a Queen, an 1800s Parisian through to a Cat!

The first of these shows is Sleeping Beauty in which I play the role of the mother of Princess Aurora. Sleeping Beauty is unlike any show I have been involved in. Being a pantomime it requires the performers to master not only the singing but also spoken text and even dancing - but with the wonderful Derek Taylor at the helm directing and choreographing we are in safe hands as he patiently guides us through the choreography. The cast consists of both operatic and musical theatre singers and dancers, as well as its very own troupe of ballerinas, and it is incredible to hear the different blends of voices during the ensemble pieces whilst each individual singer is so incredibly suited to their role. It is simply a joy to go to work each day, the energy in the rehearsal room is palpable as we create a world of Kings, Queens, Princesses and magical Fairies. No show is complete without a fabulous set and wardrobe and I can assure you this pantomime doesn't disappoint. The costumes are some of the most spectacular I have seen and whilst I don't want to spoil the surprise of what my costume looks like I will say gold is a fitting colour for a Queen!

2013 is shaping up to be a busy but exciting year and it is hard to believe that my journey onto the operatic stage began back in 2006 when Richard Gill cast me in the role of God for the very first Youth Opera production for a new company by the name of Victorian Opera. I am looking forward to performing in each of the operas I have been cast this year but none more so than The Magic Pudding - the opera, another Youth Opera, where hopefully another young soprano can be inspired as I was to pursue a career in the opera.

- Olivia Cranwell

Sleeping Beauty was part of Victorian Opera's Season 2013.