A couple of years ago when Rosario La Spina was first invited to perform at Opera in the Paddock he said straight away “count me in”. Now hailed as one of Australia’s finest tenors, the former Brisbane brick layer has found a gap in his demanding schedule to perform at Delungra’s concert under the stars this year on Saturday, March 20.
“When Peta Blyth asked me to sing I said I’d just love to do it,” he said. “Peta is a fine singer herself and there’s a pretty high level line up, one that any opera house or concert hall would be proud to have. I also like performing outside the big cities and not just do stuff in big opera houses.”
Although a moth once flew into his mouth during an aria at an outdoor concert, he is undaunted by the challenges of singing in different settings.
He is also modest about his spiraling career. As a teenager he regularly sang in a pop music program on Channel 7 but when his voice broke, he assumed singing was finished and he joined his family’s construction business. When an accident with an angle grinder put him in hospital for a week, his sister Anna Maria who had always wanted him to sing again persuaded him to take lessons with her teacher during his convalescence.
“I went into it so green and changing from pop to classical was hard but I decided to give it a go, knowing that about one per cent of people who want a career in opera make it,” he said. “It’s not like being a lawyer or an accountant, you can’t assume that because you have done the training you’ll get a job.”
Using his Italian passport he went to Milan for private singing lessons and was persuaded to enter the La Scala competition for young tenors. From a field of 31 international contenders he was chosen after a marathon five hour contest. Training at La Scala was tough but opened doors and since then he has been in continual international demand.
His leading tenor role in Tosca at the Sydney Opera House this year is a home coming and he now hopes to spend more time in Australia. “I am told that my voice has a true Italianate sound and that has worked well for my career,” he said. Recently Rosario released his first CD of Neapolitan songs and will perform some of them at Opera in the Paddock as well as operatic arias.
On stage he will join soprano Peta Blyth who organised the annual concert with her husband, Bill, renowned baritone David Wakeham who has also spent many years based in Europe, two young artists from Opera Queensland , mezzo soprano Zoe Taylor and soprano Milica Ilic, baritone Shaun Brown and Adelaide based conductor Tim Sexton who made his debut at Mimosa last year. The opera night will be preceded by a German and Italian Song evening at the Inverell Town Hall on Friday, March 19.
Bookings on line www.operainthepaddock.com.au / ph 6724 8561, all branches of the New England Credit Union.