MARCH 2018 ASSOCIATE ARTIST
SARAH PRESTWIDGE | soprano
Sarah Prestwidge is a young indigenous Australian soprano, and scholarship recipient at Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music, under the vocal tuition of Stephen Yalouris.
Sarah has performed both nationally and internationally for corporate and charity events, and was also awarded a scholarship to study both language and music in Italy through AFS Intercultural Exchange. Sarah made her operatic debut in 2016 in La Traviata with Opera New England, and performed the role of Lady Ella In Patience with G&S Opera Sydney. 2017 began with preparations for Pagliacci and the roles of Osmina/Lay Sister in Suor Angelica.
Sarah has had mentorships with Emma Matthews, Deborah Cheetham, and Dale Burridge, and became a young artist with Voci Stupende in 2017. Sarah had the opportunity to perform in master classes at Julliard and Manhattan School of Music during her trip to New York in 2017.
1. What have you been up to lately, performance-wise, and what's coming up?
I am a recent graduate from Sydney Conservatorium of Music and I’ve hit the ground running. I’m currently in rehearsals for Rockdale Opera’s Rendezvous at Orlofsky's Cabaret, which will showcase a number of great performers and the fabulous Rockdale chorus. I’ve been enjoying performances at a number of corporate events that usually involve my serenading of an audience at a sit-down dinner. My partnerships with the International Towers and The University of Sydney have provided me with numerous recital opportunities. In the case that I don’t have an accompanist, I make my own orchestral backing tracks that have a glorious effect when played through my portable sound-system, in some of these beautifully acoustic venues.
From the age of 16 I have sustained a mentorship with Dale Burridge, who was not only cast as Raoul in the original Australian production of Phantom of the Opera, but is also one of Australia’s most successful concert and corporate performers with his company, SMA Productions. SMA have engaged me for a variety of performances, including Opera by Disguise, performing as an Opera Singing Waiter, and most recently as an Opera Usher. As an Opera Usher, I was dressed in period costume, adopted the personality of a diva, and broke into popular arias and cadenzas – the perfect job for a coloratura soprano!
I am also looking forward to working with Short Black Opera this year under the mentorship of Deborah Cheetham. In March I’ll be putting on my music teacher hat and aiding with the facilitation of the SBO kids workshop in Melbourne.
I have been auditioning like crazy in the past few months – so I hope I have some exciting new things to share with you all very soon. In the meantime, I am so incredibly humbled to be an Associate Artist with Pacific Opera. I am really looking forward to performing lots and learning even more.
2. Who is your favourite singer, and why?
This is a hard question! I have so many singers that I listen to. Diana Damrau, Rita Streich and obviously Joan Sutherland. Their technique is flawless, they are great actresses and their vocal agility inspires me. May I also add, I LOVE Jonas Kaufmann, I could die happy listening to him!
3. What show has impacted you the most as an audience member?
Both of my parents are die-hard 80s music fans, so my aspiration to become an opera-singer was a little left field, to say the least. My parents did absolutely everything they could to support my career, including taking me to my first opera (and theirs). They took me to see The Magic Flute by Mozart, affectionately known as the “children’s opera”. Emma Matthews was cast as Pamina and Emma Pearson as the Queen of the Night. Whilst the opera itself does not necessarily compare in greatness to those I’ve seen since, it was the magical combination of exquisite voices, bright costumes, and a full orchestra that lit up my young eyes. In that moment, I knew that Opera was the only thing I wanted to do. Last year I received a number of coaching’s with Emma Matthews and performed with her at the Rockdale Opera Gala concert. Since a young age she has been my guiding inspiration, so it was certainly a ‘pinch myself’ moment.
4. What experiences do you think have shaped you the most as a performer?
I have learnt to be versatile by performing in a multitude of settings, such as eisteddfods, recitals, corporate performances, weddings and funerals. Each setting requires a different intensity and approach, which was something valuable to learn early on. In High School I performed as ‘The Black Skirt’ in The Children of the Black Skirt, by Angela Betzien. This role was dark, evocative, and detailed with no text until the end of the play. I learnt a lot about the effects of detailed acting and how to appropriately develop, connect to and portray a character. My first Operatic role was with Gilbert and Sullivan Sydney in Patience, where I was cast as ‘Lady Ella’. It was a significantly lighter role that was toured around different parts of NSW. This meant there were many different stages and orchestral settings to adjust to, which in itself was a big learning curve.
My favourite Opera of all time will always be La Traviata, by Verdi. Violetta (the original ‘Pretty Woman’) is a dream role of mine, and it may be my inner dramatic diva coming out, but there is just something really appealing about dying of Tuberculosis whilst singing a high B! I also think it is the most beautiful orchestration ever composed for an opera. The Prelude to La Traviata is actually my favourite piece of music of all time. The scoring is delicate and the reoccurring violin theme colours the story of Violetta’s tragedy.
March 2018 - Sarah Prestwidge
February 2018 - Elora Ledger
August 2017 - Joshua Oxley
July 2017 - Katherine Allen