Jukebox of hits for WA Opera’s 50th birthday

Concert director
Brendan Hanson.
Picture: Andrew Ritchie
www.communitypix.com.au d464284
Concert director Brendan Hanson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d464284

WA Opera turns 50 in 2017 and will celebrate at the annual free event Opera in the Park by presenting a special 50th gala concert at Supreme Court Gardens on February 4.

Padbury performer and director Brendan Hanson has worked with the His Majesty’s Theatre-based company for 25 years.

The WAAPA graduate has since carved out a career, including Black Swan State Theatre Company productions and directing at WAAPA. For the past four years he has directed and written for WA Opera’s school outreach program.

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Hanson’s evolution to directing the 50th gala concert seemed like a logical next step.

“I’m looking forward to the night because Opera in the Park is usually a full length opera and this year is different because it’s more like a jukebox of opera hits,” he said. “We had to come up with a great line-up of repertoire and artistic director Brad Cohen has done a wonderful job.

“There’s not a single number that people won’t know, with Mozart and Verdi and Donizetti, Bizet, Puccini and Wagner.”

Cohen will conduct WASO and WA Opera Chorus, which will be joined by principal artists Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Emma Pearson, Fiona Campbell, Sam Roberts-Smith and Virgilio Marino.

“We’re requesting people come in evening dress or dress up as an opera character; go for broke because it’s really a celebration of the art form and an opportunity to have some fun,” Hanson said.

“We even have a bit of opera karaoke with a sing-along section on the night; I’m excited to hear everyone participate.”

Hanson said much of WA Opera’s success came down to the company’s community outreach.

“They’ve continued during their 50 years to ensure they are a part of the state and not just for an elite group of people by putting on programs like Opera in the Park,” he said. “It’s making sure they are doing something for aficionados and fans but also making sure there is something there each year for newbies; something that could interest you to engage with the art form.”