Griffith musicians powering Opera on the Beach

Students from the Queensland Conservatorium are the musical powerhouse behind this year’s Griffith Opera on the Beach, to be presented by Opera Australia.

The talented students make up 80% of the orchestra – providing a lush musical backdrop for the spectacular open-air production of Verdi’s Aida.

This unique event brings together sand, surf and sopranos over six nights on Coolangatta Beach (September 21-30).

The production builds on the success of the inaugural event held in 2014, which attracted an audience of 8,000.

Griffith University is the naming sponsor for the 2017 series, which features star alumni from the Queensland Conservatorium, including conductor Tahu Matheson and mezzo soprano Sian Pendry, who plays the jilted Egyptian princess Amneris.

The production also gives current Queensland Conservatorium students the opportunity to work alongside some of Australia’s best classical musicians.

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said Griffith Opera on the Beach was a rare opportunity for Queensland Conservatorium students to engage in a professional musical production. He said a number of students who participated in The Magic Flute in 2014 are now engaged in the industry.

“For students to play side by side with professional musicians, for some of our alumni to be involved and for Griffith to own the opera brand is incredibly important,” he said.

“We already present fully-staged operas as part of the students’ training. We have just wrapped our annual opera production – L’Enfant – a blockbuster double bill helmed by UK-based director Stephen Barlow.

“We’re unique in that respect. This opportunity with Opera Australia takes it to a whole new level and gives our students a genuine foothold in the profession.”

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Ian O’Connor AC said the Griffith Opera on the Beach series offered significant benefits to students at the Queensland Conservatorium.

“The Conservatorium hosts Australia’s best opera school and it has extraordinary orchestral students as well,” he said.

“An event like this provides an exclusive opportunity for our students to have absolute access and participation in a world-class event.”

Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini AM said the production would provide an “unforgettable experience”.

“It’s an honour to return to Queensland and we’re grateful for the support of Griffith University making this possible.”

Griffith Opera on the Beach runs from September 21-30.