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WAO Playlist Series XXIII Curated by Leilah Fox

West Australian Opera's production of Cosi Fan Tutte is set to open this week and to celebrate the opening of this spectacular production, Cosi Fan Tutte Chorus member, Leilah Fox curated this week's playlist. Read about and stream Leilah's playlist which includes music from Cavalleria Rusitcana, Cosi Fan Tutte and the broadway musical CATS. 

Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo - Pietro Mascagni 

This is one of those pieces of music that is timeless in its ability to affect the soul. I have heard this both in the happiest and saddest times of my life and always I find myself reflecting and feeling deeply and nostalgically.I remember first hearing it at a concert and then searching endlessly for the title so that I could play it again and again as it had affected me so much. It pulls you in and takes you deep and for that reason it’s number one on my playlist. WA Opera was to perform this earlier in the year as a double bill along with Pagliacci, before COVID-19 forced its cancellation, so here now we can have a little reflect on that and enjoy a moment of this stunning composition.

Memory - Jennifer Hudson 

As a teenager I attended a production of Andrew Lloyd-Weber’s ‘Cats’. It was my earliest musical theatre experience and I was in awe throughout the show. It was my first understanding of magic of theatre and the start of a desire to perform myself. I’ll never forget the aged Grizabella standing in the spotlight and performing this song as she sang of her bright youth and the ease of which we are forgotten in its absence. I am moved every time I hear this song and have performed it for many recitals and recordings over the years.

Lohengrin - Richard Wagner 

When I first joined West Australian Opera in 2010 I was a Mezzo-Soprano and struggling with a lot of technical issues. That year I entered a vocal competition adjudicated by Australian Dramatic Soprano Lisa Gasteen and was offered a place in the newly developed Master of Music Studies course in QLD. I moved there for three years to complete the course under Lisa’s tutelage and it was over this time that I discovered I was in fact a Soprano suited to more dramatic repertoire. Elsas dream was my first Wagner piece and I performed it many times, including for a live broadcast for the Wagner Society of QLD after winning an annual award for most promising dramatic voice. I absolutely love this piece. It is fantastical and exciting as Elsa explains a dream she had about a knight in armour that arrives to fight for her after she is accused of murdering her own Brother.

Saint Honesty - Sara Bareilles 

When I am not performing myself I am a vocal teacher and am always in search for interesting and technical songs that might inspire my students and when I first heard this song I knew it would qualify. There is something poignant and spiritual about this song and it has a blend of musical theatre, contemporary and jazz genres. For me Saint Honesty delivers a message worth hearing and as singers this is what sets us apart as we are blessed to be allowed to express ourselves with words as well as sound.

Rusalka - Antonín Dvořák

A classic for a reason, this aria is a stunningly haunting cry of despair as Rusalka, Daughter of a water goblin, begs the moon to tell her human Prince of her love for him. We know the modern version of this story as The Little Mermaid. The first time I heard this aria I was around 11 years old and it was an old vinyl record of my Fathers that he was listening to. I remember lying on the floor of our lounge room with my ear against the speaker playing it over and over again. I think this was the moment I really knew I wanted to sing opera. This aria had to make the list for me.

Miss Otis Regres (She's Unable To Lunch Today) - Ella Fitzgerald 

I won my first vocal eisteddfod with this jazz classic and could not stop listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Cole Porter songbook for months. It was my first foray into singing jazz and I felt free and excited every time I sang it. I just love the way the sadness of her story is juxtaposed with a simple act of dining out and the way the poem and music play with each other throughout. There are many great renditions of this song but this is my favourite.

Pathetique (2nd Movement) - Betoven 

The second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique is haunting and was one of my favourite things to play when I was sitting my final grade AMEB piano exam in year 12. After the vigour of the first movement it is a welcome calm and so brilliantly written. I worked hard in high school to continue and finish my classical piano studies and exams and I am so very grateful for the skills it has afforded me especially when working as a vocalist and teacher. This piece was my way to escape from the stress of study in the more trying times of my senior year and will always have a special place.

Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler 

I’m so glad I could include a song by Bette Midler on this list. She has been an idol for me ever since my Mum bought be the vhs of the movie Beaches growing up and we watched it together. I sobbed at the end when this song played and it was a special moment that I haven’t forgotten since. This song means a lot to me as I think of my late Father whenever I hear it.

Tutti accusan le donne - Mozart 

I am so blessed to be a part of the WA Opera chorus once again for this years production of Cosi fan Tutte. It comes after a long break from performing and I feel so grateful to be here in WA with a company that is so passionate and committed to continuing to stage shows whenever possible and keep the magic of theatre alive. Although Mozart didn’t write a lot for the chorus in his opera it’s such a fun show and this is a snippet I particularly enjoy.

Faith - George Michael 

There’s never been a better time to remember to keep the faith and have a little. I can’t hear this song without feeling my toes twitch and a positive dance is just what we need right now. I hope you can enjoy it as much as I do and look forward to seeing you all at a WAO show soon!