Perth soprano Rachelle Durkin gets foxy in WA Opera’s The Cunning Little Vixen


L-R: Edward Mirco,14 (Noranda), Rachelle Durkin, Lily MacLiver, 14 (North Fremantle) and Rio Haigh, 13 (Fremantle). Picture: Will Russell d481329
L-R: Edward Mirco,14 (Noranda), Rachelle Durkin, Lily MacLiver, 14 (North Fremantle) and Rio Haigh, 13 (Fremantle). Picture: Will Russell d481329

FIRST-time opera goers are usually recommended to see one of the great operas like Carmen or Madame Butterfly but soprano Rachelle Durkin thinks WA Opera’s season of The Cunning Little Vixen is much more accessible.

“It really is a poignant opera that isn’t very long and suitable for ages nine years and older,” Durkin said.

“It’s about the cycle of life and death and connection between the human and animal world. It’s a beautiful story about the animals and the world they live in versus the humans and the world they live in and how we’re all tied together in the universe. But I can’t give too much away.”

Durkin plays a fox and is father to vixen Sharp Ears’ (played by Emma Pearson) children.

Despite their long relationship with WA Opera, it will be the first time Durkin and Pearson perform together.

They are joined by a cast of professional Australian opera singers, the WA Opera Chorus and a Children’s Chorus singing as animals including bees, grasshoppers, frogs and caterpillars.

“My son Ethan is only two years old and I’m hoping he can come and have a little look because I think it would make him happy to see a bunch of kids on stage,” Durkin said.

“Composer Leos Janacek used a lot of Czech folk music and called it an opera ballet.

“The music melts into each scene and it’s very cinematic in its approach, as it paints a picture of the forest and the farm. I’ve seen some of the video of this opera by Victorian Opera (2017) and it’s visually stunning.”

The WAAPA graduate said she had not performed a male role since 1996 (Faust, Romeo and Juliet) and looked forward to playing the comic fox who was “a bit of a character”.

After calling New York home for the past 18 years, Durkin said she was enjoying being back in Perth, and at her parents’ home in Busselton, for an extended time before returning to the Big Apple.

“My son and I have been going to the beach every morning and have been lapping it up,” she said.

“My husband is still in New York and we’ll be going back there after Vixen, then travelling to Italy to perform some concerts with Aldo Di Toro (another WAAPA graduate). It’s good to be busy. It’s difficult with a child but he’s so happy-go-lucky.”

The Cunning Little Vixen is sung in English with English surtitles.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: The Cunning Little Vixen

Where: His Majesty’s Theatre

When: April 21, 24, 26 and 28

Tickets: www.ptt.wa.gov.au