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WAO Playlist VII Curated by Lachlann Lawton

This week Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist, Lachlann Lawton shares his playlist. Lachlann's playlist boasts plenty of variety ranging from opera favourites Tosca, Rigoletto and Hansel and Gretel, to the Broadway favourite Les Misérables and soul crooner Tom Jones. Stream and read about Lachlann's playlist below.

 Introit – Duruflé – Voices of the ascension chorus.

This was the first choral work that I really fell in love with. We performed it in my second year at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) but unfortunately, I got the flu and was unable to perform on the night. The chorus parts are so beautiful and the musical soundscape is really stunning to listen to. To this day I can still sing the entire bass chorus line from memory.

Easter – 5 Mystical Songs – Vaughan Williams by Andrew Garland

I have been lucky enough to be able to perform as the soloist in this work on multiple occasions, however, the performance that I remember most fondly was with the late Richard Gill at WAAPA. He was an amazing support for me in my musical journey and also a great friend. This piece is my favourite out of the cycle because it’s not just all about the soloist. The chorus plays a huge part in this piece and Vaughan Williams’ chorus writing is really beautiful. The way the soloists weaves in and out of the chorus parts is reminiscent of a duet rather than a traditional soloist and chorus material.

Cortigiani – Rigoletto – Verdi sung by Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis has been one of Australia’s premier baritones of the last 30 years. He has performed countless roles with Opera Australia and he is currently settled in Perth where he is a teacher at WAAPA. Michael has been my voice teacher on and off for the last 5 years and I could not be where I am today without his guidance and teaching. One of his most famous character portrayals is that of the court jester Rigoletto. I love this recording because of his powerful singing and investment to the character. His use of the language and the colours he finds within the music makes it really exciting to listen to.

Ral la la la – Hansel and Gretel – Humperdinck sung by Robert Hayward

Hansel and Gretel has a soft spot in my heart because it was the first opera I performed in at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (RNCM), where I completed my Masters of Music. The role I performed was the father, Peter. I had learnt the role in Australia a few years before at WAAPA which made it the perfect opera to start my college experience. Wagner is one of my favourite composers and Humperdinck’s writing feels very similar in style. The music is so full of character and it constantly keeps you on your toes harmonically. It was also a lot of fun getting to play drunk on stage.

Lacrimosa – Berlioz Requiem

Whilst studying in the UK I was able to travel to some amazing places in Europe and Scandinavia. One such place was Bergen in Norway, a country I travelled to with fellow RNCM students to partake in concert performances of the Berlioz Requiem with the Bergen National Opera. Whilst there, I loved exploring the city as well as walking up and down the mountains and exploring the fjords. I love this piece not only because of the beautiful writing and expressive movements but also because it reminds me of the amazing time I had there and how beautiful the country is.

Die Nacht – Strauss sung by Fischer-Dieskau

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was the master of German lieder singing. His ability to colour the music and evoke such emotion in the listener is one of the reasons he is my go-to when listening to lieder repertoire. Whilst I was preparing for the Richard Strauss performance prize concert at the RNCM I constantly listened to Fisher-Dieskau’s performances of the pieces I had chosen. This piece became my favourite in the programme because of its stillness and simplicity. What I love about his interpretation of this is his commitment to text without sacrificing any of the beauty in the vocal quality.

Nacht und Traume – Schubert by Ian Bostridge

This song makes the playlist because it is one of my favourite lieder. I first heard it played by Graham Johnson at the Perth International Art Song Festival held at WAAPA. I was struck by the beautiful intro, which to this day still gives me goosebumps. The ability required by the singer to maintain such stillness and legato throughout is breathtaking when it’s achieved and I love the stillness created every time I listen to it.

The Phantom – Earth and Air and Rain – by Finzi recorded by Roderick Williams

I was given this cycle of Finzi songs by my voice teacher from the RNCM, Quentin Hayes. Up to this point, I hadn’t learned much English art song, preferring to sing German Lieder or French Melodie. After learning songs from Earth and Air and Rain, I was hooked. The music really paints a picture of the protagonist within the story and I connected with them so clearly. I quickly moved onto other English composers such as Butterworth, Stanford, Warlock and Vaughan Williams. The ability to learn how to sing English song while surrounded by English singers and traditions was such a privilege.

Si corre dal Notaio – Gianni Schicchi – Puccini sung by Leo Nucci

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to cover the role of Gianni Schicchi in a production at the RNCM. My voice teacher Quentin Hayes played the role of Schicchi and we spent many hours working on the character together. It was extremely beneficial to me to work so closely with someone of his calibre and we grew very close as colleagues because of this.

My favourite part about working on this opera was the tight nit choral parts between the soloists. Puccini has written such fun and witty music that’s full of character and humour, but he still somehow maintains sincerity at the right moments. This meant that we all grew very close as a cast and it ended up feeling like we were a real family rather than just ‘playing’ one.

Nocturn – The Pilgrims Progress original recording – Vaughan Williams

This particular piece has great significance in my life as it is the piece that I performed at my Dad’s funeral. At the time, I was preparing the role of the Pilgrim in The Pilgrims Progress at the RNCM so I felt it was a fitting piece to sing given the circumstances. The opera remains one of my favourites and one I won’t forget. Although the opera is not very well known, the music is so evocative and very stereotypical of Vaughan Williams’ compositional style. He creates the most beautiful sound world and establishes the scene with just the music. The character journey is clear and filled with so much passion that it is a big emotional undertaking for both the lead and the audience.

Te Deum – Tosca – Puccini recorded by Sherrill Milnes

Tosca is one of my favourite operas to listen to and I have sat down and listened to act 2 more times than I can count. The Te Deum is an absolute classic in the baritone repertoire and there are few who can sing it better than the charismatic Sherrill Milnes. His voice suites the character of Scarpia so perfectly and even though you hate the character, you get lost listening to him sing it. This is an aria that I may never get to sing in performance, but I can still dream.

Lament di Federico – Arlesiana – Cilea sung by Pavarotti

This is my favourite aria for tenor. The flowing melody and beautiful orchestral underlay make it entrancing to listen to. Luciano Pavarotti is the singer I have chosen, and who better to sing this stunning Italian piece than the ‘King of Opera’ himself.

Vesti la Giubba – Pagliacci – Leoncavallo sung by Kaufmann

This aria is full of tragedy and emotion and needs a singer who not only has an amazing voice but who can also embody the text. Jonas Kaufmann is a marvellous singer and I listen to a large number of his recordings. Kaufmann started life as a light tenor who had multiple vocal issues and had to go away and retrain his voice to what it is today. He is a fantastic example of how hard work and perseverance can make you successful. His interpretation of this aria is so full of anguish and anger that it really makes you empathise with a character that is mainly very disagreeable. It sounds like he is crying from his soul and singing from his toes.

Ya vas lyublyu – Queen of Spades – Tchaikovsky by Hvorostovsky

Dmitri Hvorostovsky is my favourite baritone to listen to. His rich tone, endless breath control and vocal colour palette are astounding to listen to. I tried on multiple occasions to see him live in performance however due to health issues he pulled out of the events I had organised to see. Tragically, Hvorostovsky passed away in 2017 so I will never get the chance to see him in performance. His performance of Ya vas lyublyu by Tchaikovsky shows all of his amazing attributes as an opera singer.

One Day More – Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert

Les Misérables was the first show I ever performed in and it started my love of theatre shows. I was in year 6 when I played the role of Gavroche in the South West Opera Company’s version of the show. I have a distinct memory of being on the shoulders of one of the adults in the chorus for One Day More and waving around a flag over my head. I love all the music and I will often sing parts of it as a one-man show around the house just for fun.

Delilah – Tom Jones

I love my sport, and my favourite of all is soccer or football if you’re from the UK. My family is from Stoke on Trent in the Midlands of England and because of this, I barrack for Stoke City Football Club. I am not certain when it was adopted, but before every home game the song Delilah by Tom Jones is played over the speakers in the stadium and the entire crowd joins in on the singing. It’s an amazing experience to be a part of and I will never forget my first time doing it at a live game.

Oh No – Bring me the Horizon

Apart from opera, I am also passionate about the heavy metal and metalcore genres of music. There are a large number of fantastic Australian metal bands who are extremely popular around the world such as The Amity Affliction and Parkway Drive. This song is from the British band Bring Me the Horizon and is from their 2015 album “That’s the Spirit” and looks at a person who can’t help but make the wrong choices in life.