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Love and the Baroque with Emma Pettemerides

Ahead of performing alongside Australian Baroque in V’Adoro, soprano Emma Pettemerides reflects on love in its many phases.

Tell us about the repertoire being performed in V’Adoro?

I’m really excited about this beautiful program! There are so many exquisite gems from the baroque period which, in my opinion, don’t get enough stage time! The repertoire includes music from the masters of baroque opera including Vivaldi, Purcell, Rameau, opera’s pioneer, Monteverdi and of course, Handel. The arias which I’ve chosen to perform all explore moments in time where the character is experiencing heightened emotions and these baroque composers were the masters at conveying these emotions in the most beautiful and innovative ways.

Love is the central theme of this concert. Is there a section or aspect of the repertoire that you’ve found particularly moving or affecting?

I wanted to explore the different phases of love that we experience through life. From love’s first kiss to adoration and infatuation, to the heartbreak of those feelings not being mutual! Through our lives we all experience heartbreak – perhaps ‘losing’ a loved one to another… or suffering the passing of our loved ones and experiencing grief.  The music we’ve chosen takes us on a journey from the early moments of falling in love through to the devastation of losing our most beloved.

From an actor’s perspective, singing O let me weep from Purcell’s The Fairy Queen has been particularly affecting. I feel like it touches on moments of overwhelming grief, disbelief, numbness and sparks of anger. All emotions one goes through when experiencing grief and in my opinion, Purcell captures this rollercoaster of emotions so perfectly. 

As an ensemble, what do you enjoy most about collaborating with Australian Baroque?

Australian Baroque has established itself as Perth’s leading baroque chamber orchestra and I feel very blessed to be collaborating with such a passionate team. As singers based in Perth, we don’t get a huge amount of opportunities to perform with historical instruments played by musicians who have spent years studying the early music performance style. I’m so glad that Perth has the opportunity to hear this wonderful music performed by a dedicated early music ensemble. 

The concert takes place in Hackett Hall at WA Museum Boola Bardip. What do you love most about performing in this space?

This will be my first time performing in Hackett Hall and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve attended other performances in the space and there is something very special about listening to live music under the bones of the largest animal to exist on the earth. It’s humbling. To me being in that space evokes feelings of mystery and gives one a sense that they are merely a drop in the ocean. I think we all need that shift in perspective once in a while!

What do you hope audiences will take away from experiencing V’Adoro?

I hope that the audience will first feel relief from the daily grind by being immersed in a soundscape of beautiful baroque music. I would like to think that the performance will encourage audience members to reflect on their own journey through life and maybe leave the concert holding their loved ones a little tighter than when they arrived.

West Australian Opera and Australian Baroque present V’Adoro at Hackett Hall on Thursday 30 May. Book here.