RACHELLE Durkin performed a mini variety show at Perth’s Tivoli Club every Friday night at the age of 15, belting out classic Judy Garland numbers.
Her dream was to be a leading lady of musical theatre and she nearly fulfilled that ambition.
Luckily for the opera world, the homegrown superstar soprano couldn’t dance.
“I turned up to the singing auditions and got through to the first round and then they shuffled me into a room where they had tap shoes,” Durkin said.
“I’d never danced before, and I was just standing there with legs everywhere, trying hard to keep in time, and they said: ‘Look, you just can’t get in with no dance experience’.
“I was very cut up.”
After a friend suggested she try opera, Durkin auditioned for the Conservatorium of Music at WAAPA.
“I didn’t even know what a treble clef was,” she said.
“I did an oral exam and failed miserably but then got in on the strength of my voice.
“So, I thought: ‘I better give this a shot’ and then I came to love opera.”
Durkin makes her debut with WA choir Voyces this month for concert Tundra, featuring Nordic melodies.
The singer, and mother of two-year-old son Ethan, was approached to sing with the ensemble last year but was celebrating Christmas in New York – her home for the last 17 years – and unable to accept.
“I had some concerts here in Australia this year and thought it would be lovely to reach out to Voyces,” Durkin said.
“I sent an email saying I was in town and they responded: ‘Great! Let’s make a concert around you’.”
Durkin went to New York in 2000, after winning a competition at The Metropolitan Opera House.
“I just ended up staying on the mere fact I was getting a lot of work at the opera company – New York seemed like the Mecca for all things operatic,” she said.
“I took to The Big Apple straight away: I didn’t find New Yorkers rude – everyone said they were rude – and they love the Aussies.”
When: September 16
Where: Trinity Uniting Church, Perth