THE last time Perth tenor Paul O’Neill performed in a City of Perth Opera in the Park was in 2005 for The Magic Flute.
He followed it up with a season in Don Giovanni and then travelled to London to seek fame and fortune.
He has lived the past 10 years in Berlin with his wife and four children, spending many Christmas Days singing in the traditional German performance of The Magic Flute or even Tosca, before packing up the family and moving home to Perth last year.
“So it was our first Aussie Christmas for a while where we didn’t have to do a phone call or Skype with family,” O’Neill said.
“And I can’t wait to be back for Opera in the Park; it’s really part of Perth now and a much bigger event with a simulcast.
“It’s part of the opera scene but also for people who don’t necessarily come to the shows in-house. They bring their children and grandparents and it’s a wonderful evening.
“There’s always something special where you can smell that summery Perth air by the foreshore; it’s magic.”
WA Opera will perform Puccini’s La Boheme for this 27th Opera in the Park at Supreme Court Gardens on Saturday, February 3, with O’Neill playing leading role Rodolfo.
“To do La Boheme will be great, especially since I’ll be going straight to Sydney after to do another outdoor performance of the opera on Sydney Harbour,” he said.
“It’s quite a lot of Bohemes in the first part of the year.”
So it is fortunate for O’Neill that it is one of his favourites, citing the music as “sublime” and the story “fantastic”.
“The lovers fall in love and break up only because they love each other so much,” he said.
“Then they get back together just before Mimi dies. It’s powerful and you have the other characters, Schaunard and Colline, adding to the brevity and youthful feeling of it.
“Rodolfo shows all his emotions and then in the fourth act when Mimi is dying, it’s such an emotional act and so wonderfully written with its timing and pace that it’s great to sing. It’s so powerful because everyone knows before him and they’re just waiting for that moment when Rodolfo finds out.
“It’s definitely one of those moments that sticks with you. It’s the sort of part an operatic singer would like to sing. Puccini loved tenors and sopranos, so that always helps as well.”
What: City of Perth’s Opera in the Park – La Boheme
Where: Supreme Court Gardens
When: 8pm, February 3