WAO Playlist Curated by Naomi Johns
This week, our soprano Naomi Johns curates a playlist rich with drama, flair, and a grounding core, featuring musical moments from Verdi’s magnificent Tenesta la promessa to Billie Eilish’s my future.
A 2013 Bel Canto Award recipient, Naomi has studied and performed both nationally and internationally. She will be joining us this month for her West Australian Opera role debut as Berta in The Barber of Seville. Don’t miss your chance to see her perform – book tickets now!
Stream and read about Naomi’s playlist below!
A foreword from Naomi:
It is generally a struggle to filter the vast repertoire of beloved arias, music and songs that inspire. Trying to reduce the number to 10 as a playlist has been a challenge, but here it goes!
Quand on s’aime – Nana Mouskouri and Michel Legrand
This song was gifted to me by a dancer friend when he found out I was heading to Paris for the first time and has, since then, been the first track on my Sunday morning pancake playlist. To me it feels like what waking up should be if you were waking up in a musical.
6 Romances, Op.6: No.6 Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt - Tchaikovsky
There are many settings of this very famous Goethe poem, but I first fell in love with this version when I was 12 watching the original 1933 black and white version of Little Women with Katherine Hepburn as Jo Marsh. This was the song that Professor Bhaer sang to Jo when she was in New York. In the movie he sings it in the original German of the poem, but I love Dimitri Hvorostovsky’s version in the composer’s native language.
Tenesta la promessa...Addio del passato – La Traviata
Keeping the drama up is my favourite aria from Traviata, and I have to say that technically it is the most challenging and satisfying to sing...pacing wise, at the end of the opera, to be able to bring it back to this spinning point of sound is the most beautiful transition towards her ultimate death.
Oblivion – Astor Piazzolla
This was the piece of music that I originally wanted to walk down the aisle to. I tried to have it timed so that I walk in at the swell in the middle, but it proved to be a little too logistically challenging at the little stone church in Croatia that my husband and I married in. But the piece has always been a beautifully grounded, sexy and relaxed vibe that I’ve loved.
Già nella notte densa...Venga la morte - Otello
An earnestly beautiful duet with incredible singers. It is not a part that is often performed outside the context of the opera.
Desdemona is often thought of as a tragic character...but I love listening to the hope and calming kindness that seems to be her sound cloud at the beginning of the opera. It is always in my playlists as lovely things to listen to and sing along with and I think deserves to be heard more often.
Senza Mamma, o bimbo – Suor Angelica
No opera playlist is complete without a soprano “cutting sick” in a Puccini aria. This has always been a special aria since a teacher gave it to me when I was at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. However, it has only been since I’ve had a child of my own that I fully understand the emotional depths of this role and can keep a handle on it. Here is the stunning Renata Tebaldi.
All Things in Time – Jason Robert Brown
Most people don’t know that I actually studied Musical Theatre at WAAPA before switching to Opera when I realised that I’d never be an MT ingénue and I wasn’t old enough to play the “Witches and Bitches” yet.
So to satisfy that part of myself, I had to include something from that realm....
I always feel it is special to be gifted a song you’ve never heard of that perfectly fits into your mental space.
A friend passed this onto me last year when the world was starting to go crazy and it really got me through seemingly endless mornings of dog walking and child minding with nothing to look forward to and a cancellation of something that I was looking forward to for two years. A tribute to my lady tribe of Maylands and Mt Lawley xx
Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.19: Andante – Rachmaninov
The ultimate piece in my rainy day playlist...no one brings the emotion like the Russians do.
my future – Billie Eilish
For me, this particular song of hers feels a lot like Amy Winehouse’s album Frank.
I love the build up and the text of this is incredibly positive...it’s the balanced beginning to the Jason Robert Brown song above.
C’est toi, mon père – Thaïs
Massenet would have to be up there with my top 5 composers for the female opera voice.
This stunning duet is the final of the whole opera so I thought it would make a lovely finish to my playlist...also, the extra top notes make for a thrilling transcendental passing into the afterlife. And it wouldn’t be Opera if no one died!