Queensland Conservatorium graduate Rebecca Cassidy is helping re-imagine the artform as Opera Queensland’s Young Artist for 2020.

The soprano joins a host of young opera stars from the Queensland Conservatorium selected for Young Artist programs around the world, from Kang Wang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, to Samuel Johnson and Kiandra Howarth at the Royal Opera in London.

The next step

“Being included in the Young Artist Program at Opera Queensland is so exciting,” Rebecca said.

“There is no step-by-step guide for a professional opera career. You can train for years and put in so much hard work and there are still no guarantees.

Rebecca performs at this year’s Opera Queensland season launch.

“That’s why Young Artist Programs are so amazing.

“They take a young singer on the cusp of a professional career and give them the opportunity to work inside an opera company, to grow as an artist and build the connections that are so important to a long-term career.”

As Opera Queensland’s 2020 Young Artist, Rebecca will receive mentoring in music, language and stagecraft.

She will also perform in concerts, at community and corporate engagements and understudy the role of Isolde in a blockbuster production of Tristan und Isolde later this year.

Reimagining opera

Rebecca returned to the Queensland Conservatorium Theatre as guest artist at last year’s Val Machin Opera Scenes

While COVID-19 restrictions have posed some challenges, Rebecca is upbeat about the possibilities offered by pivoting online during the pandemic.

“When I signed up for life as an opera singer, I knew there would be ups and downs. And however this year plays out, I know it will all be worth every second,” she said.

“One good thing to come out of this is that we have been forced to find new and exciting ways to get the artform out there, and tap into the power of social media to attract a wider audience for our work.”

Rebecca will host Opera Queensland’s first virtual community singing event this week along with fellow Queensland Conservatorium opera alumnus Jason Barry-Smith.

Sing, Sing Sing gives opera fans a chance to perform alongside Opera Queensland stars from the comfort of home.

A lifelong love affair

Rebecca fell in love with opera as a child.

“I was already very musical and loved singing and playing music when my parents took me to see a touring production of Carmen while I was still in primary school,” Rebecca said.

“I remember being instantly and completely affected by the entire opera experience. I was overwhelmed by the music, the sadness of the story. From that moment, I was hooked.”

Building solid foundations

Originally from Townsville, Rebecca moved to Brisbane in 2008 to study.

“Growing up in North Queensland, the Con was always the dream – coming down to the big city and following in the footsteps of all of these amazing singers,” she said.

“I still remember getting my acceptance letter – it was the most exciting moment of my life.

“I had the privilege of being taught by the marvellous Margaret Schindler – she helped me create the foundation I needed to build my voice.”

Students benefit from industry partnerships

Associate Professor Margaret Schindler

Queensland Conservatorium Head of Voice, Associate Professor Margaret Schindler, said Rebecca was one of many remarkable opera alumni who had benefited from a close partnership between the Conservatorium and Opera Queensland.

“Rebecca was a really outstanding singer who was part of an exceptionally talented cohort at the Conservatorium,” she said.

“It is fantastic to see her taking the next step at Opera Queensland, who we collaborate with very closely.

“It is wonderful to see companies like OQ reinvigorate their Young Artist program, which enables young singers to consolidate the training they receive at institutions like the Con, and prepares them to be competitive at a very high international level.”