WAAPA soprano Emma Matthews sings British staples at WASO’s Last Night at the Proms

Soprano Emma Matthews.
Soprano Emma Matthews.

EMMA Matthews loves being a mum and now she has a really big family of singers to nurture – as well as her two teenage sons.

The celebrated soprano, winner of more Helpmann Awards than any other individual artist, returned to Perth in January, leaving behind a busy performance schedule in Sydney.

The homecoming was motivated by a wish to be among family and teach at her old stamping ground of WAAPA.

“I love teaching (as head of classical voice and opera studies) as much as singing,” Matthews said.

“It was something I thought about when I left Perth. I thought: ‘I’m going to come back one day and teach and give back something I have learnt in the industry’.

“The timing was right: I have two boys – 13 and 16 – and family here. My sister had a baby recently and I have a niece that I’ve been able to see every week since I’ve come back. Mum and Dad are here and getting on in age, so we are all together and it’s lovely.”

A WAAPA grad herself, starting in musical theatre then moving into opera, Matthews is honoured to be working with stars in-the-making.

“Knowing I can hear in those young voices what they’re potentially going to sound like in five to six years and after that and to give them the foundations they need for the industry is a huge, wonderful responsibility,” she said.

“When I came to WAAPA as a student I knew of Mozart and a few other composers but I’d never studied opera, so I went to the library every night at Edith Cowan and listened to different operas instead of watching TV.

“I’d have the libretto and the score with me and follow the translation and just be bawling my eyes out, thinking: ‘Oh my God, this is the most amazing play-to music’.

“So that became a big challenge for me to portray incredible roles and I’ve been really fortunate throughout my career to play amazing women.”

Matthews pays homage to her British roots (born in Manchester) this week in WASO’s Last Night at the Proms.

Audiences will enjoy Proms staples including Elgar’s Land of Hope and GloryTHE ESSENTIALS:

What: Last Night at the Proms

When: July 27 and 29

Where: Perth Concert Hall

Tickets: www.waso.com.au