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WAO Playlist Series

24th April 2020 |

WAO Playlist V curated by Tommaso Pollio

This week, West Australian Opera accompanist, Tommaso Pollio shares his Playlist. Tommaso has worked with West Australian Opera since 1993 and shares his extensive breadth of opera knowledge in his playlist, which features works from the likes of Bizet, Puccini and Wagner. Read and stream the full playlist below.

The Abduction from the Seraglio- Overture (Mozart)

My uncle, Isidoro Mazzella was a close friend to Giuseppe Bertinazzo, the founder of West Australian Opera and was one of the original tenor choristers all the way back when it first began. Often Giuseppe would talk to my mum who worked in the diner near the old ABC dreaming about opening his very own opera company…which he did in 1967!

When I was old enough I was allowed to go watch the shows during the ’70s the one show that really made me fall in love with opera was the 1978 production of WAO’s Abduction of the Seraglio with June Bronhill. Still to this date one of the funniest things I’ve seen on stage.

Tales of Hoffman, Act II – Antonia Ghost Trio (Offenbach)

Another fabulous production I saw at WAO early 80’s was the Tales of Hoffmann. I was so riveted by the production that by the time Antonia is visited by the Ghost of her Mother I puked up in the dress circle bar out of complete shock. I was only 11 years old mind you! Still, when I hear this trio I always feel like vomiting…..

Orpheus in the Underworld – Cancan (Offenbach)

It wasn’t till 1993 that I actually began working for West Australian Opera. My first Repetiteur production was Lindy Hume’s Orpheus In the Underworld. My uncle had retired just a few years before and it seemed like he gave me the baton to carry on.

Carmen Death Scene Finale (Bizet)

I’d rate this scene as one of the best-written scenes in opera period! I learnt so much about what it was to be a good repetiteur from this difficult scene, how to follow a conductor and to how to go with the ebb and flow of Bizet’s beautiful score!

Peter Grimes Sea Prelude No 1 (Britten)

A highlight production for myself both as a repetiteur and being part of a major WAO production was being part of Neil Armfield’s production of Peter Grimes for the Perth Festival conducted by Richard Mills. Playing these Sea Preludes arranged for four hands but played by two hands brought a whole new world of challenges for me.

Twilight of the Gods Immolation Scene of Brünhilde (Wagner)

This production for the Perth International Arts Festival and WAO in 2003 I think nearly killed me! The music was the most difficult music to play for me at that period of time. No matter how much time I spent on it I just couldn’t remember how to play it. The night before production rehearsals began I rang the then Head of Music, Marilyn Phillips, in tears stating that “I can’t do it, I just cannot play this!”

She of course slapped me over the phone and told me to “Not be so bloody stupid!” I turned and was greeted by her and a nice treat and got to work and had the best time of my life! No other opera has ever been difficult for me ever since.

Turandot – Non Piangere Liu (Puccini)

One of my first Opera Australia productions I played for was Turandot. I have so many fond memories of Graeme Murphy’s beautiful production. This aria, especially sung by Pavarotti, I feel outshines Nessun Dorma any day and I wish this was the aria that took off instead. It makes cry every time I hear it. Ironic as the lyrics are “Don’t Cry, Liu”

The Cunning Little Vixen Sunrise Prelude Act 2 (Janacek)

It’s not often one gets the chance to play Janacek’s’ music but I was so thankful to have got the chance to play this difficult music and being a part of Stuart Maunder’s magnificent production a few years ago.

Tosca Te Deum (Puccini)

 ne of the most satisfying scores to play as a Repetiteur! (especially Scarpia’s scenes) . What a gift and I am so eternally grateful to Puccini for composing some of the most beautifully written music there ever has been!

Cello Sonata op 19 – Third Movement (Rachmaninov)

No it’s not an opera but  I wish he had written more of them. This movement might as well have been in one, his music is so lush and emotive that one cannot help themselves and play it like a mad opera performer! One thing I do to keep my chops up is to play as much Chamber Music as I can and I absolutely love performing this difficult sonata.

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