Jenna Robertson in ambitious Operabox production Ariadne auf Naxos


Fiona Jopson and Jenna Robertson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d458353.
Fiona Jopson and Jenna Robertson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d458353.

JENNA Robertson has traded in her previous Operabox role of Tudor queen Anna Bolena for tattooed burlesque dancer Zerbinetta in the company’s September production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

She will play the polar opposite to Melbourne soprano Fiona Jopson’s character Ariadne.

“This is a very different role in a very different and difficult opera,” Robertson said.

“It follows the story of a rich man who hires two companies to come to his house to perform; one is an opera company and the other is a comedy cabaret troupe.

“The order of events is that the opera company is meant to perform this new opera first and then there’s a comedy show afterwards.

“The first half of the opera is all the backstage antics and bickering and games between the two companies before they’re told they’ve run out of time and must perform simultaneously.

“The two companies have to improvise and merge their works into one; it’s fascinating and definitely mayhem.”

It will be the first time the Richard Strauss opera, sung in German with English surtitles, will be performed in WA with an orchestra.

The team of more than 35 musicians will be led by former WASO assistant conductor Christopher Dragon, who will return to Australia for several engagements during a break from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, where he is associate conductor.

“It’s an ambitious piece that requires particular types of singers, good orchestra players and a lot of people don’t attempt it,” Robertson said.

“Our cast of 13 is very capable of doing it and so is the orchestra, but that’s not to say that we’re all slightly terrified.”

Robertson, who was born in north Scotland near Aberdeen and studied in Edinburgh, moved to Perth eight years ago with her Australian husband and has continued her passion for opera by performing with Operabox and in the WA Opera Chorus.

She has always had a passion for singing and classical music.

“When I was a kid I loved the Disney movie Fantasia,” Robertson said.

“I was always drawn to classical music and it went from there; it’s the most challenging, rich and interesting music for me.

“Opera obviously is a combination of beautiful classical music with all the acting and elements of theatre as well; there is nothing that can beat it.”

Ariadne auf Naxos will be performed at Joy Shepherd Performing Arts Centre at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, Mosman Park, on September 9, 11 and 16.

The company will also present a special concert performance (without set) at Darlington Hall on September 13.

“Operabox have a beautiful and loyal audience in Darlington Hall when we used to perform at smaller venues,” Robertson said.

“We really want to keep that connection.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Ariadne auf Naxos

Where and when: Joy Shepherd Performing Arts Centre (September 9, 11 and 16) and Darlington Hall (September 13)

Tickets: www.bit.ly/AriadneTix