THERE was one degree of separation between Perth opera singers Taryn Fiebig and Alexander Lewis when they first stepped into the WA Opera rehearsal room for The Merry Widow – Lewis’s mother Patricia Price.
“I’m working with my singing teacher’s son,” Sydney-based Fiebig said.
“Patricia (WAAPA head of vocal studies and opera) used to teach me so I feel like I’ve known Al forever. I’m feeling very at home.”
Directed by Graeme Murphy, The Merry Widow marks Fiebig’s debut with WA Opera, while Lewis, who now lives in Melbourne following time in New York, returns after his performance in the company’s 2014 season of The Magic Flute.
Murphy has chosen to set his new production, sung in English, in 1920s Paris and Lewis said this made for “champagne, bubbly fun” surrounded by an Art Deco design and glamorous costumes.
“It’s all about the glorious complexities of love with some of the most beautiful tunes,” he said.
“It’s filled with yearning, desire and sensuality.”
The opera follows the story of former farm girl and now young, rich widow Hanna and her old-flame Danilo, whose wealthy family once forbade his match with Hanna.
Churchlands SHS and UWA graduate Fiebig said both their characters, Hanna and Danilo, were cheeky, determined people with lots of pride.
“Danilo was born privileged and from early on decided that wasn’t fair or right; he’s basically a socialist,” Lewis said.
“He has a history of giving money to refuges and people on the street. He truly dislikes everything he’s been born in to and that’s exaggerated by the fact it was his family that prevented the two of them from marrying because she was beneath his station.”
WA Opera has partnered with Telethon for The Merry Widow season. Both are celebrating a 50-year milestone in 2017, where part-proceeds from ticket sales will go to the children’s charity.
Fiebig and Lewis said the opera company/charity partnership was highly appropriate in the context of The Merry Widow.
“I think Danilo would love that,” Fiebig said.
What: WA Opera’s The Merry Widow
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: July 15 to 22