PERTH soprano Emma Pearson could think of no better homecoming production than WA Opera’s The Riders after working in Europe for the last 10 years.
“I have known of Iain Grandage (composer) since studying at UWA and have always wanted to sing his pieces while I was overseas in Germany,” Pearson said.
“So I’m very excited to finally be a part of one of his operas.
“It’s modern music but written in a way by Iain to be as emotional and exciting as the romantic period; I think it’s as emotionally engaging as Puccini.”
Pearson’s New Zealander husband and opera singer Wade Kernot will also perform in the opera, which premiered for Victorian Opera and Malthouse Theatre in 2014 under the direction of Marion Potts, who is once again at the helm.
The lyrics were written by Alison Croggon, based on the Tim Winton novel, making it even more special for Pearson.
“His writing feels very much like home,” she said.
“We studied him in high school and I think our family story goes that my great aunt taught him touch typing in business skills in Albany.
“Everything he writes about seems familiar to me and I love how direct he is with his descriptions.”
Pearson said she was also enjoying singing in English while being part of the Winton-inspired production.
“It’s fantastic because usually you’re always trying to understand other characters’ stories and finally we get to say something like ‘the Perth sunlight hits the white sand beaches’,” she said.
“And you know exactly what that looks like, you know how you want it to sound and want the audience to hear.
“It’s direct and allows you to engage with the subtleties more because they are our pictures.”
The opera follows lead character Scully (James Clayton), an Australian man living in Ireland who sets off across Europe searching for his wife Jennifer (Pearson) who has left him and their daughter.
“She’s deserted the family,” Pearson said.
“Scully’s mentality is that nothing is more important than family and Jennifer’s is nothing is more important than self-discovery.”
Pearson, who is pregnant, initially struggled in her role to understand how a mother could leave her child.
“We are brought up to believe all women are born with a natural maternal instinct who bond with their children, but that’s not always the case,” she said.
“It really opens up conversations where people want to tell me about women they know like Jennifer.
“My initial reaction was very much ‘how can a mother leave her child?’ because the world I live in is very much of that opinion, but since then I’ve grown a lot and heard more stories about that side of life.”
What: WA Opera’s The Riders
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: April 13 to 16