WAO Playlist Series
WAO Playlist Series VI curated by Brianna Louwen
This week, Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Brianna Louwen shares her playlist. Featuring operatic classics from Bizet’s Carmen and Verdi’s Requiem to the rarely performed “musical novel” Louise, Brianna’s playlist boasts plenty of variety. Read Brianna’s descriptions and stream her playlist below.
Depuis Le Jour – from ‘Louise’ by Gustave Charpentier; sung by Anna Netrebko
The Opera ‘Louise’ is rarely performed in its’ entirety, however, you may be familiar with one of its more well-known arias in ‘Depuis Le Jour’. Charpentier’s writing is so luxuriant and full, and this aria is an expression of true love and happiness. Louise is living with her partner Julian in an apartment overlooking the Montmartre. When I hear this aria I see Paris in all its’ summertime glory. Who better to listen to than the extraordinary Anna Netrebko.
The Infinite Shining Heavens – from ‘Songs of Travel’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams; sung by Bryn Terfel
There is a special place in my heart for English Art Song, especially that of composers such as Vaughan Williams. Sir Bryn Terfel is one of the most magnificent interpreters of this genre, and he sings the Songs of Travel so exquisitely. I remember hearing this movement for the first time years ago and being completely floored by its’ beauty and simplicity. I think it is an extraordinary skill to present songs that are so emotionally complex in such a simple manner and with such gentleness and sensitivity.
Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante – from ‘Carmen’ by Georges Bizet
When you think of Carmen, you think the Toreador, Habanera or the Seguidilla. I think Micaela gets the most beautiful aria in the whole opera when she is seeking out the smugglers’ cave to find Don Jose. It is a moment of stillness in a chaotic opera, and I’m sure we all remember Emma Pearson singing it in the 2018 season with great fondness. I may or may not have shed a tear…
Les oiseaux dans la charmille (The Doll Song) – from ‘Les Contes d’Hoffmann’ by Jacques Offenbach, sung by Emma Matthews
One of the most impressive arias in the Soprano repertoire, this aria is a feat of technical prowess – not least because it usually involves some outrageous staging like being lifted into the air while holding ones’ body in the rigid position of a doll (not to mention how high it goes). I first saw Rachelle Durkin sing this in Perth quite a few years ago and was completely blown away by the vocal pyrotechnics. Here it is sung by the patron of our Young Artist Program and the darling of Australian Opera – Emma Matthews herself.
Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten – Arvo Pärt
Sometimes you go to a concert and aren’t expecting to be bowled away by the beauty of a piece, thus making the experience all the more incredible. I first heard this piece played by WASO with Simone Young at the helm and couldn’t believe how moving the simple chords were. Arvo Pärt is a great exponent of minimalism, and this tribute to one of my favourite composers is one of the most extraordinary pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
Tuba Mirum – from Verdi’s Requiem
I had the pleasure of singing in Verdi’s Requiem for the first time in 2019, and from my vantage point in the middle of the choir stalls this moment was the most extraordinary display of what the immense forces of orchestra, off-stage Trumpets and choir are capable of. This is about as close to Opera as any Oratorio dares to go, and boy oh boy is it thrilling.
Alexander Hamilton – from ‘Hamilton’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda
After years and years of friends telling me I MUST go and see Hamilton, I finally got the chance to see it on the West End right at the end of 2019. It was absolutely incredible. Lin-Manuel Miranda completely shook up the musical theatre world with this incredible musical about the founding fathers of America. It melds hip-hop with rap and some good old fashioned musical theatre writing to create a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Give the whole album a listen while you’re there!
Mambo – from ‘West Side Story’ by Leonard Bernstein
I’ve seen five different live productions of West Side Story to date, and can not stop myself from crying like a baby at the end. To me, West Side Story is one of the most perfect shows ever written. It has everything – incredible dance numbers, wonderful singing in so many different styles, the most famous love story of all time – what more do you need in a production?
Sing to the Moon – Laura Mvula with Snarky Puppy
My favourite band in the world goes by the name of Snarky Puppy. They’re a Jazz/Funk/Fusion collective based in Brooklyn and are some of the most incredible musicians to walk the earth. Every now and again they do albums called ‘Family Dinner’, where every track features a different guest singer. This is my absolute favourite, Sing to the Moon by Laura Mvula. Laura is an incredible songwriter and story-teller, and she brings such a unique flavour to everything she writes. She came to Perth last year and sung in ‘Gershwin Reimagined’ with WASO, and it was one of my concert highlights of 2019.
As – Becca Stevens and Jacob Collier
This is a cover of Stevie Wonder’s song ‘As’ (I’ll be loving you always). It has been a great comfort to me during this period of isolation, and I hope it helps to remind you of the people nearest and dearest to you.