Drama aplenty as Keast’s vocal energy rattles the partitions

Pianist Donna Balson with soprano Louise Keast. Photograph: Hayley Manning.

Music / “From Damaged Hill to Bel Canto”, Louise Keast with Donna Balson. At Wesley Music Centre, March 19. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

IT might have been the title for a recital by her inspiration, the late June Bronhill, who additionally commenced her profession in Damaged Hill.

Louise Keast acknowledged as a lot by commencing her recital with two testing arias usually related to Bronhill, Mozart’s “Porgi Amor” from “The Marriage of Figaro”, which she revealed that she sang for her Larger College Certificates and for her audition for Opera Australia and Donizetti’s “Regnava nel silenzio” from “Lucia di Lammermoor” which, as this was her first public efficiency of this aria, she devoted to Bronhill.

She is well-known to Canberra audiences. After finding out classical voice with Adele Nisbet at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith College, she moved to Canberra in 2014, the place she grew to become a Wesley Music Scholar and continued her research with Christina Wilson, additionally taking part in cello with the Maruki Neighborhood Orchestra and singing Mimi for Canberra Opera’s manufacturing of “La Bohème.”

Keast’s voice is a really completely different instrument from Bronhill’s. At this stage, maybe not as versatile, however a lot darker and impressively massive and highly effective.

Keast took benefit of this recital to showcase the outstanding enchancment in her vary and approach since her final Canberra appearances, having joined the Opera Australia refrain in 2021, and develop into an affiliate artist with Melbourne Opera, for which she’s carried out the roles of Wellgunde in Wagner’s “Das Rheingold”, Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and Marzelline in Beethoven’s “Fidelio”.

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She’s additionally carried out main roles for different firms, in addition to different spectacular engagements together with performing as a principal artist within the Competition Junger Kunstler in Bayreuth the place she introduced two solo operatic recitals.

This Canberra recital continued with a brief piano interlude for which affiliate artist, Donna Balson, selected three charming quick piano items by Puccini entitled “Tre pezzi senza voce”, earlier than Keast carried out an aria she had beforehand carried out in her Bayreuth recitals, “Gluck, das mir verblieb” from Korngold’s opera “Die tote Stadt”.

Then adopted the pleasant “4 Lieder Op 27” which Richard Strauss had composed as a marriage current to his spouse, earlier than Balson lightened the tone with a cheeky interpretation of Percy Grainger’s “Handel within the Strand”, which she launched by informing the viewers that Grainger had instructed that this piece could possibly be carried out with or with out clog dancers. She selected the latter.

Keast returned to carry out two songs by Australian ladies composers, Peggy Glanville-Hicks’ “Come Sleep”, and a moody tune by Elena Kats-Chernin, “Late Spring”, earlier than bringing out the massive weapons, two large arias she mentioned she was singing in public for the primary time.

Firstly, Bellini’s “Oh! Quante volte” from his opera “Capuleti e i Montecchi” and at last bringing her impressively wide-ranging recital to an exciting conclusion with a surprising interpretation of the Verdi aria “Sempre Libera” from “La Traviata” through which Keast revealed her dramatic potential in addition to rattling the partitions of the Wesley Centre with the sheer energy of her voice.

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The primary in what’s deliberate to be a sequence of such recitals for Nationwide Opera, “From Damaged Hill to Bel Canto” has set a excessive bar for the remainder of the yr.







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Ian Meikle, editor