WAO Spotlight with Caitlin Cassidy
We step out of our cherished rehearsal studio and onto the road this month as we bring live performance to the south west with Opera in the Regions. From the theatre to the tingle trees, we want to shine a spotlight on our creatives working tirelessly to bring the magic of opera to you. Connect with your state opera company on an intimate level and understand how a tour relies on stamina, synergy and zeal.
Journey with mezzo soprano Caitlin Cassidy as she takes us through her favourite regional opera moments, the quirky but powerful vocals of Cecilia Bartoli, and why she thinks the arts have worth for everyone, both young and old.
1. Soon we will bring live performance to the south west with Opera in Mandurah, Opera in Albany and Opera in the Valley of the Giants. What does the rehearsal process involve and what are you most looking forward to?
The rehearsal process for a tour like this is usually lots of fun as it involves gathering round the piano and working through your chosen repertoire with your colleagues. I am extremely fortunate that these are three of Australia’s finest singers (Emma Matthews, Paul O’Neill and James Clayton). I am really looking forward to learning from their wealth of talent and experience. It’s always, always a pleasure to listen to the musicianship of pianist Tommaso Pollio. He has such a depth of feel and knowledge of the operatic repertoire and is such a sublime player. A singer always sighs a sigh of relief when they know Tom is playing!
2. How does a regional tour compare to a season at the theatre? Can you share with us some memorable moments from on the road?
Regional tours are fantastic. For me, they highlight the universality of music and the power it has to connect people of diverse backgrounds. One of my favourite tours was an education tour with West Australian Opera to Broome and schools in the Kimberly. We sang in the Shinju Matsuri Festival, performed Mozart and Judy Garland with Broome Primary School, got to “glamp” in Cape Leveque, sharing our showers with green tree frogs, and got obsessed with astronomy thanks to Greg Quicke who took us on a fantastic star tour. It was a wonderful time immersed in a totally different place.
3. What singing tricks or practices do you use to keep up stamina and vocal health?
I have a set of vocal warm-ups and exercises that I have gathered from the brilliant teachers I have had along the way that I do daily (unless I am sick or resting my voice).They largely involve lip trills and other sounds that make me sound insane but are mostly satisfying to carry out. I have also started practicing Iyengar yoga and HIIT gym classes regularly and I believe both have helped my physical and mental health greatly, particularly during stressful lockdowns.
4. Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? Why?
My favourite venue has to be a concert hall in a castle in Graz, Austria. It was where I performed in a master class for the great Christa Ludwig. The way she taught me in that class was the most incredible experience. It was like I got to channel her for half an hour which is just about the world’s best gift.
5. As an alumnus of the Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program, how important do you think it is to support youth artistic development?
It’s so incredibly important. Today’s world is full of challenges that face the arts, all of which should be met with work that transcends the audience, that moves them and makes them think. That means that the craft of becoming an artist needs to be refined and razor sharp. It must be the perfect retort for anyone that may deem you “inessential”. If something is beautifully crafted, if it holds truth and if it bears a worthy message, it can never be worthless.
6. When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue opera?
I knew very early in life that I wanted a career in opera. However, the crystallising performance was Callas’ sublime and dramatic rendition of ‘Casta Diva’ from Norma followed closely by a recital of Cecilia Bartoli’s, where she was singing ‘Agitata due venti’ by Vivaldi. I loved how clever, musical, prodigious, vulnerable, kindly and weird Cecilia Bartoli seemed in her singing. She appeared earthy and kooky and made me feel like there was a place for a weird kid like me in opera.
7. What other exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
As Christmas is always a busy time for singers, I will be ‘snowed under’ (see what I did there!) with Christmas concerts until said holiday! I have one at St Mary’s South Perth which will contain beautiful Christmas music from the classical repertory called I’ll Be Home for Christmas with soprano Daniella Sicari and organist Alessandro Pittorino. I will also be performing in Christmas At the Quarry with Freeze Frame Opera, which promises to be a fun and distinctly Australian Christmas concert with some of Perth’s finest young talent, mixed with some familiar faces of the Perth opera scene.
Next year holds some very exciting things that I am not yet at liberty to talk about, but please do watch this space!
Don’t miss your chance to hear Caitlin Cassidy perform alongside Emma Matthews, James Clayton and Paul O’Neill in an enchanting regional setting. A limited number of tickets to Opera in Mandurah and Opera in Albany are still available!
ABOUT CAITLIN CASSIDY
Caitlin Cassidy was recently a principal artist with Opera Australia singing Aunty B in The Barber of Seville NSW Schools Tour. An award-winning young artist with West Australian Opera, Caitlin made her principal debut as Countess Ceprano, subsequently performing the roles of Third Lady and Marcellina and featuring in WAO’s regional concert series in Broome and the South West. In 2019 Caitlin appeared as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with the State Opera of South Australia. She performs regularly with Freeze Frame Opera in Perth namely as Silvia (I Pagliacci) and Ježibaba (The Little Mermaid) and in gala concerts. She completed a Professional Studies Diploma at Mannes in New York where she also performed with New York Lyric Opera. Prior to this, she graduated from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts where she completed a Bachelor of Music, a Graduate Diploma and a Master of Creative Arts.