Opera Queensland will shine the spotlight on local singers around the sunshine state in 2018 with Project G&S, which will see community choruses from the Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba performing alongside professional opera singers in Lindy Hume’s production of Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse.

Project G&S, Opera Queensland, RuddigoreJason Barry-Smith and chorus in Opera Queensland’s Ruddigore. Photo © Stephen Henry

Ten men and ten women from each region will sing and dance in the community chorus and take part in a free, intensive development programme. They will attend eight weeks of rehearsals, working with local chorus master and Assistant Director Sean Andrews, before performing the show at The Arts Centre on August 3 and 4 alongside Bryan Probets, Christine Johnson, Natalie Christie Peluso, Jason Barry-Smith and Kanen Breen.

Lindy Hume’s production, described as a “sparkling new interpretation” by Limelight‘s Suzannah Conway when it opened earlier this year in Brisbane, saw the lesser-known Savoy opera steeped in the English humour of the Goons and Monty Python. While not as often performed as dream team Arthur Sullivan and WS Gilbert’s hits like The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore, Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse boasts classic numbers like the patter song ‘Matter’ trio and Rose’s ‘Etiquette’ song. “This was an entertaining and fun night, with a terrific production, good artists and great visuals,” wrote Conway.

Project G&S follows the success of Project Puccini in 2014 – which saw hundreds of people compete for 384 spots to sing in La Bohème – and Project Rossini in 2016, which saw Queenslanders from eight communities across the state perform in Lindy Hume’s production of The Barber of Seville.

“The past two community projects we toured across Queensland were honestly jaw-dropping experiences,” said Opera Queensland’s Manager of Open Stage, Mark Taylor. “The amount of talent we continue to find through our regional initiatives such as Project Gilbert and Sullivan is inspiring.”

Opera Queensland music director Narelle French will lead the auditions across the communities in February next year. “Narelle is one of Australia’s most respected and versatile pianists and musicians,” said Taylor. “I cannot wait for her to witness some of the great talent the Gold Coast has to offer. Opera Queensland is passionate about bringing the power of opera to regional Queensland, so make sure you get involved.”

Auditions will be held in Rockhampton, Gold Coast, Townsville, Mackay, Cairns and Toowoomba in February and March. Registrations close February 8.