Griffith joins the Brisbane Festival line-up

Griffith University will this year make a headline appearance at the city’s largest annual cultural event in more ways than one.


As the 2012 Brisbane Festival kicks off on September 8, more than 90 staff and students from the Queensland Conservatorium will join the highly anticipated line-up, which will also feature Lisa Gasteen’s first full opera performance in four years.


The one-off performance of Bluebeard’s Castle on September 14 will be presented by the festival in partnership with Griffith, as Lisa takes to the stage alongside bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi, eminent German conductor Johannes Fritzsch and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.


Lisa Gasteen rose to worldwide prominence after becoming the first and only Australian to win the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. She now leads the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School at the Queensland Conservatorium, where she acts as a teacher and mentor to the next generation of the country’s most promising operatic talent.


Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Noel Staunton said this performance would be a rare opportunity for local audiences to be captivated by singers of this calibre presenting a rarely performed repertoire.


“Both Lisa and Daniel have performed at the world’s most famous theatres including Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera, so to see them together on stage in Brisbane is going to be incredibly special,” he said.


Opera students will also make their Brisbane Festival debut to tell the tale of Tom Rakewell, a man who succumbs to temptation by the devious Nick Shadow and deserts his betrothed, Anne Trulove, in The Rake’s Progress.


The performances on September 7 and 9 will explore one of the most important operas of thetwentieth century, questioning morality, the power of love and forgiveness. They will be led by internationally acclaimed conductor Alexander Ingram and directed by Anna Sweeny.


The leads in the production include tenor Kang Wang (People’s Choice prize winner in the 2010 Dame Joan Sutherland National Vocal Award), soprano Rebecca Cassidy (ExhibitionAward from the Trinity GuildhallSchool of Music) and bass Samuel Johnson.


Kang will also perform as a special guest for Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s free Symphony under the Stars on September 21; sessional staff member Brendan Joyce will perform in Monteverdi’s dramatic masterpiece L’Orfeo (September 12-13); staff and alumni Sarah Sullivan, Michael Morgan, Jade Moffat, Sam Sakker and Byron Watson will present the rarely-performed Bottesini’s World on September 25; and the Luara Karlson-Carp Trio will form part of a sold out Jazz on Sunday session on September 9, as will alumnus Ingrid James as she launches her latest album alongside legendary trombonist Bill Watrous.


With opera featuring prominently across the Festival, Lisa Gasteen sees the connection as ideal given she remains passionate about nurturing local talent by providing elite coaching at the Queensland Conservatorium comparable to that of the best schools in Europe and the USA.


“I believe it is important that we invest in Australian talent and offer them the opportunity to develop their skills and careers here by bringing the international experts to us rather than sending our students abroad,” she said.


“Alongside wonderful performance opportunities such as the Brisbane Festival, the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School will continue as the launching pad for these students to achieve their dreams of singing in the major opera houses throughout the world.”


As a key festival sponsor, Griffith University will also provide world-class concert venues as the event makes its new home in the cultural hub of South Bank.


Brisbane Festival is an initiative of the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council and runs from 8 to 29 September 2012.


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The 2012 Lisa Gasteen National Opera School will run from Saturday 17 November to Sunday 9 December.


MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Suto, 0418 799 544, [email protected]

Kang Wang as Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress