Victorian Opera expands their training of singers and audiences alike with the first performance of this unique new branch of the company.


Opening their doors to secondary school-age students, Victorian Opera has expanded its education program to students younger than their Masters of Music singers.


The concept sees the 13-18 year old singers attend rehearsal each Tuesday afternoon, with a view not only to sing but also to stage a range of musical styles. The program is under the expert guidance of two Victorian Opera chorus members, Jonathon Bam and Angus Grant, with input from associate stage directors.


The students took to the stage of Fairfax Studio, Melbourne Arts Centre, for an introductory concert on Thursday 19 June. Managing Director Andrew Snell shared his excitement about the future of opera, mentioning that for the recent production of La Traviata, Victorian Opera sold ten times as many Under-30 tickets as they did concession tickets.


A newly formed association with Newsboys Foundation was also announced in support of VOYCE.


The eclectic program began with a Bach choral from the female singers, before a larger selection from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Presenting a partially staged performance of the two final pieces from the opera, Masters of Music graduate Kirilie Blythman made a guest appearance to sing “When I Am Laid in Earth,” which was followed by the full chorus singing “With Drooping Wings.”


For a complete change of pace, the next item was A Chorus Line’s climactic chorus “One.” Finally, the group performed a longer segment: the act one finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. Accomplished director Cameron Menzies staged the sequences from Dido and Aeneas and Iolanthe.


Artistic Director Richard Mills gave his enthusiastic congratulations to the young singers. Chorus members Pat and Isabelle thanked all involved for the wonderful ongoing opportunity.


The acronym VOYCE stands for Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble. As well working on their on their specific pieces, the Chorus will be available for Victorian Opera performances. The Chorus will be seen in October’s season of Youth Opera The Play of Herod


Photos: Aaron Maguire