Last year, German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin made her sensational debutwith the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, stepping in to replace an unwell Eva-Maria Westbroek as Isolde opposite Stuart Skelton’s Tristan, in two concert performances of Wagner’s masterpiece. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be there will never forget the extraordinary combination of dignity and passion with which she approached the role.

Gun-Brit Barkmin Gun-Brit Barkmin. Photo © Florian Kalotay

It came as no surprise that Barkmin was quickly invited back to perform with WASO and Principal Conductor Asher Fisch. Neither did it come as any surprise that the resulting gala concert, An Evening with Gun-Brit Barkmin, proved every bit as compelling, provocative and emotionally draining – in a good way – as that of Tristan und Isolde.

This was in a large part due to Barkmin’s fierce devotion to letter and spirit, to reaching into the body of the text and tearing out its heart to hold up before the audience.

The heroic Leonore, sacrificing all to rescue her husband Florestan from the clutches of arch-enemy Don Pizarro, in Beethoven’s Fidelio(we heard Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?). The sensitive interpreter of Richard...

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