Back in 2002 it was to be a small concert for a few opera and music lovers in a paddock with phenomenal accoustics outside Bill and Peta’s Blyth’s house on their Delungra property.
“I thought we would do it once, 100 people might turn up and I would get it out of my system and that would be it.,” says the soprano who swapped a career at Opera Australia for farm life in the early 1990’s.
To their surprise, on the night an audience of many hundreds , with chairs and picnics in tow, turned up and would not hear of it being a one off event. Now in its ninth year Opera in the Paddock, to be held on Saturday, March 20 at Mimosa, has become one of the region’s leading cultural events, attracting some of the nation’s top professional singers and musicians, many of whom happen to be her colleagues.
“The performers love the atmosphere, I guess it is a bit different for them,” Blyth says. “It is essential to pick the right people – ones you know can deal with the wide open spaces. To date, I think we have done that. When I look back at the artists we have had and the music that we have presented between those gum trees, you really have to feel very proud.
“We have built a great team – with Martin Hansford sound , Roy Jeffrey lighting. Having just finished rehearsals for 2010 it promises to be an fabulous night. We are really fortunate that tenor Rosario al Spina and baritone David Wakeham have been able to squeeze us in to their schedule. Rosario is really at his peak and produces an amazing sound. He’s really looking forward to coming.”
This year the singers who also include baritone Shaun Brown and two young divas from Brisbane will be performing sections of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro , Verdi’s La Traviata, Verdi’s Macbeth and Tosca. Rosario will sing some numbers from his Neopolitan Songs CD Rosario which has just been released.
“Somehow, I think the first three years were the hardest,” Blyth says. “It is now a part of our life. We’ve been helped with some government grants through the support of our local MP Richard Torbay, through Inverell Council and we have some very loyal and supportive sponsors. I think allowing the concert to grow and introducing more artists of professional standard have been intrinsic to its success.
“If we’d have stayed at four performers with a tiny stage, I don’t think the audiences would have kept coming. Sustainabilty, balancing the artistic and technical needs and the budget has to be the hardest call. I guess, it has ever been so – especially with opera.”
Opera in the Paddock 2010 is sponsored by Tourism NSW, Inverell Shire Council and Tourism, Malachite Resources Ltd, Country Energy, New England Mutual, Allianz, German Consul, WHK. and Qantaslink.
Bookings on line www.operainthepaddock.com.au or see Jenny Mead at the Bingara Visitors Centre phone 6724 0066.