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WAO Playlist Series Curated by Michael Lewis

This week, our baritone Michael Lewis curates a playlist shaped by ingenuity, heroism, and a dash of folly, featuring musical moments from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

One of Australia’s most respected artists, Michael is highly regarded for his command of both operatic and concert repertoire. He will next be joining us for City of Perth Opera in the Park on 26 and 27 February to celebrate 30 years of this iconic event.

Stream and read about Michael’s playlist below!


A foreword from Michael:

After enjoying a career of nigh on 50 years, choosing 10 pieces of music was extremely hard. There's no Wagner or Puccini. No Schubert or Brahms. No Mumford and Sons or Tim Minchin. No Blues or World Music. Still, I hope all enjoy listening to my playlist!


Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Just the greatest and most outrageous composition, featuring one of the greatest and most entertaining singers of any genre, Freddie Mercury. 

“Ich habe genug”, Cantata BWV 82: 1 – J. S. Bach

First came Bach, then everyone else followed! I've always loved listening to and singing Bach, and to include an absolute hero of mine in Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing a favourite cantata was a must.   

The Waking – Kurt Elling

This incredible singer and jazz musician possesses a unique and phenomenal technique, and every time I've seen him perform, it has had a profound impact on me. He is truly inspiring.

Dostoino est - Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble

I have listened to this curious combination of sounds over many years, and never tire of the ingenuity that brings jazz saxophone and an a cappella male voice quartet together in haunting acoustics. It's helped by the fact that the founding counter tenor in the group has been a friend for a long time.

Soave sia il vento – Così fan tutte

This sublime piece of music has lived in my soul since I first sang it for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, conducted by a very young Simon Rattle, and performed with an equally young Felicity Lott and Patricia Parker. Happy days!

“Miserere mei, Deus”, Allegri: Miserere – Gregorio Allegri

This beautiful piece of religious music came into my life whilst my youngest son was a chorister at St. Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire. I had never heard anything so ethereal in my life, and every time I hear it, I am reminded of the sounds floating upwards into the space of the ancient cathedral.

“Toccata”, Symphony No.5, Op. 42 – Charles-Marie Widor

Another sound from my early years growing up in Adelaide. One of my first jobs was as bass soloist in a city church, which had a fine organ, and the conductor and organist was a super musician: David Merchant. He was very proud of the horizontal brass trumpets that he had added to the organ, and by golly they were magnificent in this piece of music. 

Credo in un Dio crudel – Otello

This recording, conducted by Tullio Serafin features another hero, the baritone Tito Gobbi. This man was one of the greatest singing actors of last century, who inspired and informed much of what I’ve tried to do for the last 50 years. I’ve sung 12 Verdi operas, but Otello sadly eluded me. This performance would have been my template.

“Veni creator spiritus” or "Symphony of a thousand", Symphony No. 8 – Gustav Mahler

This is the final few minutes of the First Movement of this heroic work, from one of my favourite composers. I am fortunate to have been a soloist for several performances of this amazing piece, and to be on a concert platform with all of this phenomenal sound going through one's body is electrifying!

Barcelona – Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé

So, back to Freddie, but oh my, this was the most fabulous folly and it marries my love of contemporary and classical sounds, performance and harmony. Freddie was a very operatic person, and his discovery of the voice of operatic legend Caballé was a match made in heaven. 


We are currently following State Government directives to lockdown until 6.00pm Friday 5 February.

We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and provide updates for City of Perth Opera in the Park, supported by Lotterywest and starring Michael Lewis.

We encourage you to register for the complimentary livestream here!