On a warm Sunday afternoon in July was the premiere gala for the newly formed Lyric Opera Company on the Central Coast. The conductor, Steven Stanke was one of the movers and shakers for the formation of this exciting new classical opera company. Steven is aware of the diverse needs and interests of the local community. Classical music is here to stay.
A program of well known and loved arias and orchestral opera favourites were well received by the packed audience in the Avoca Theatre which has the traditional shoe box shape, so the acoustics suited the talented singers and chamber sized orchestra. This is part of the one only events which are planned for the winter season at the Avoca Theatre. The Met Operas are coming up as well as a concert with Andre Rieu, which is great for classical music lovers on the Coast.
An overture by Mozart opened the gala, followed by Shane Lawrence stealing the show with an aria from his favourite opera Don Giovanni, 'Madamina, il catalogue e questo'. Shane is described as 'charismatic, sexy and a great actor'. He has a rich baritone voice, full of energy and connected with his audience. The days of 'stand and deliver' are well and truly gone, singers must also be actors, and Shane does this in spades.
Sally-Anne Russell is a mezzo-soprano with a huge repertoire and has sung with all the opera companies in Australia and many countries around the world. She has a charming voice and embraced her character, Cherubino from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, convincingly.
Angela Brewer is a local East Gosford soprano who has worked for many years with the Australian opera and overseas. Her touching performance of 'O mio babbino caro' [affectionately known as the daddy song], from Gianni Schicchi was one of the audience's favourites.
Richard Lane had an exciting career as a front row forward before he accidentally found out he had a rich tenor voice. His powerful voice was well suited for his opening aria from Wagner's Die Walkure: Winterstrume. However his pianissimo singing in the duet with Shane, in Bizet's' 'Au fond du temple', demonstrated a wonderful honey quality to this rare and thrilling voice.
The ensemble closed the program with 'O sole mio' which the audience was invited to join in and did with mucho gusto. The Lyric Opera will be a wonderful addition to the cultural life on the Central Coast and Steven had ongoing plans for the future, including an opera in 2018. Another Gala is planned for January 2018.