WAO Playlist Series X
This week’s playlist is curated by Perth soprano Emma Pettemerides, who is also one of the voices behind West Australian Opera’s Lullabies for Babies. Emma’s playlist includes operatic classics from Le Nozze di Figaro and Romeo et Juliette as well as classics from musicals West Side Story and Meet Me in St Louis. Stream and read about Emma’s playlist below.
Cantique de racine – Gabriel Faure
When I was pregnant with my first child I read somewhere that as your baby can hear your voice and any music that you play while they’re ‘on the inside’, it may be comforting to the baby during the birthing process to play familiar music. So naturally, I made a playlist of beautiful music which made me feel calm and at peace and listened to it on repeat for around 4 months before Archer was due. This piece was number one on the playlist. Now I don’t know for certain if it was the music but when Archer was born he didn’t really cry…to the point where I remember asking the Obstetrician worriedly if everything was alright! He was perfectly fine. I like to think that Faure had some part to play in bringing Archer into the world in a happy, content, calm state of mind. Unfortunately, he wasn’t born speaking French but he does have a very good sense of pitch for a 3-year-old! (I highly recommend playing music to your babies whether they’re on the outside or still on the inside!)
Trolley Song & Boy Next Door – Meet Me in St Louis – Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
There were two movies which started me on the path to becoming a singer/performer. The first was the Judy Garland classic, Meet Me in St Louis. I was given the video cassette by a friend of my Mum and I watched it a LOT…I would recite the words along with the movie and sing all the songs at about 5 years of age. It was then that my obsession with Judy Garland and the musical theatre genre began. The storytelling was glorious and the music grabbed me at an early age. I was hooked.
Bless your beautiful hide and Barn dance – Seven brides For Seven Brothers – Gene de Paul
So, the other movie which I was obsessed with as a 5-6-year-old was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. If you don’t know the story, it’s about a man living on a farm with 6 brothers and he decides to go to town one day to get himself a wife…by singing a song entitled “Bless your beautiful hide”….as you do. Amazingly, he is successful in his quest and he picks up a wife (they’re married on the same day)…There are a few hick-ups along the way (mostly due to the fact that he fails to mention the fact that he has 6 brothers and that they all live with him in the same house…) but in the end, the other 6 brothers find themselves their own wives and they all live happily ever after. Weirdly, I ended up living on a farm with my own farmer who has, you guessed it, 6 brothers and sisters…
Amour ranime mon courage – Romeo et Juliette – Gounod
While I was living in London I was lucky enough to attend a couple of performances starring Anna Netrebko. One role which I saw her perform as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. She was so wonderful to watch on stage. It wasn’t just the singing that inspired me but the way she moved and embodied the character. You always hear Juliette’s Waltz but it’s less often you get to hear the poison aria. It’s a killer! This is a live performance of Anna Netrebko singing at the Metropolitan Opera.
One hand, one heart – West Side Story – Bernstein
West Side Story is probably my favourite musical of all time. The choreography, the insanely catchy music, the romance! It was the first show I saw on Broadway and I still remember the huge amount of restraint it took me to not join in! If I had a dinner party and could invite any five guests dead or alive, Bernstein would be there.
Appalachian Spring – Copland
I remember hearing this performed live for the first time while I was a student at the RNCM and I was completely overwhelmed. I was sitting in the auditorium with a smile from ear to ear by the end. The music fills me with energy and always lifts my spirits. Living in Toodyay and doing quite a bit of driving to and from Perth I often turn the volume up (partly to block out the kids fighting in the back) and revel in the wonder of this stunning composition.
My Man – Funny Girl – Jule Styne
Another musical which greatly influenced me as a singer and performer was Funny Girl with the great Barbara Streisand. I played (and re-wound) and played this song so many times on my video that I damaged it. I was brought to tears every time I watched the film. How was this possible? I knew the ending! Watching Streisand is like watching a masterclass. Every. Single. Time.
Ah Perdona al Primo Affetto – La Clemenza di Tito – W.A.Mozart
While I was a student at the RNCM, they did a production of La Clemenza di Tito. As is so often the case, there were around 40 sopranos auditioning and only a handful of mezzi. So my teacher suggested I audition for the role of Annio (a high-ish mezzo role). And that was my first (and last) pants role! This duet between the young lovers Annio and Servilia has to be one of my favourite pieces of music. It’s so simple and pure. Singing this duet in the production was such a joy.
Giunse alfin momento…Deh Vieni non tardar – Le Nozze di Figaro – W.A. Mozart
So it’s no secret that Mozart would have to be my favourite composer. The more I read about him and the more I sing her music the more fascinating I find him. I love the fact that he was a rebel and that he had a wicked sense of humour. His music is honest. Le Nozze di Figaro was one of the first opera’s I was cast in after graduating from the RNCM. Every time I sing this aria I discover something new in the music. I will never grow tired of singing it. Here it is sung by one of my favourite soprano’s Lucia Popp.
A Chloris – Reynaldo Hahn
This makes the playlist because it’s one of my favourite French chanson which I’ve enjoyed performing many times. The most memorable performance was in front of the incomparable Dame Joan Sutherland for her 80th birthday celebration with the wonderful repetiteur Sharolyn Kimmorley.
Seasons of Love – RENT – Jonathan Larson
No playlist of music that has played a part on my musical journey would be complete without something from the musical RENT. I paid a small fortune in library fines because I kept forgetting to take this double CD back….Most car journeys to WAAPA in my student days were spent listening (who am I kidding….singing) to this soundtrack. For those of you who don’t know already, it’s a modern-day take on La Boheme and if you’re going on a road trip, I highly suggest you turn this one up.
Home – Edward Sharp & the magnetic zeros
It was while I was studying in the UK that I met my aforementioned farmer and because we lived on opposite sides of the world, he sent me a couple of mix-tapes to cheer me up. He’s a romantic at heart. This song was number one on the CD and will always be our song.
Simple Gifts – Copland
My Grandmother Noreen had a gift for story-telling. Some of my fondest memories as a child are lying on my bed listening to Grandma telling me stories. They always revolved around a black cat named Blackberry who used to take a red double-decker bus and somehow end up at Buckingham Palace. Blackberry would always find a way into the palace and inevitably met the Queen and had a feast. Every story was made up on the spot and every story had me in the palm of her hand! She was amazing! No doubt her love for story-telling was a huge influence on my love for story-telling through music and song. Whenever I went to Grandma’s house the record collection always got a good workout. I’ve chosen this song because I sang Simple Gifts at her funeral because it was one of her favourite tunes and because she always taught me to appreciate the little things in life.