Forty Years on Forty Stages
Once again I am reminded of the beauty in simplicity with the Opera Queensland Studio Series Forty Years on Forty Stages - Conal Coad. With an impressive repertoire lined up, and a musical trip down memory lane with a treasure that we have claimed as our own, it was a nice escape from the mundane of everyday life. The Studio Series session was a good opportunity to take a deep dive into Coad’s impressive resume and career spanning, as the title suggests, forty years, and forty stages internationally.
It's safe to say the Studio Series proves its value time and time again. Forty Years on Forty Stages creates an intimate, accessible environment for those who are curious to learn more about the world of opera, and for the enthusiasts alike, and can be used interchangeably as an educational tool or as a performative piece that can be enjoyed by the greater public.
Coad’s dramatic performance is worth mentioning, as he embodies the role completely, allowing his facial features and vocal inflection to aid the storytelling. There were a number of themes touched upon within the performance, love, lust, loneliness, all common themes in the opera genre. Furthermore, it is the insight gained and the overarching narrative of the interwoven songs in addition to the personal stories and adventures along the way (traveling across the globe) that enables the audience to share the joys of the performative aspect of the genre as well as the comedy of the theatricality and flamboyance that comes along with it.
Throughout the series, there has been a strong focus on diversity, and it is worth acknowledging these internationally renowned artists come from a wide range of backgrounds and lived experiences. Creating opportunities for culturally diverse performers, and continuing to expand on the types of stories and central messages that are depicted, is crucial for the longevity of the medium. Forty Years on Forty Stages is best enjoyed amongst family and friends, taking a moment to forget about the problems of the outside world and take a step back in time to enjoy opera in the traditional sense, but also to relish in the memories leading up to this point and everything in between.
The Studio Series, although geared towards a niche audience, as tends to be the case with opera, also encourages students from Griffith University to attend and support their fellow students, and take an interest in the artform. The secret is the simplicity, and a repeatable formula helps to achieve this - as can be best described on the Opera Queensland website “Sing us an hour of your favourite songs.” It goes to show that you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to see the opera, and it doesn’t have to be 2.5 hours long to be enjoyable.
Conal Coad will play “The King” in Aida (2023).
Review: Joanna Letic