A CRIMSON sun setting behind the gum trees set the scene when Opera in the Alps began with a sparkling chorus on Saturday night.
How apt it was that Some Enchanted Evening came on the program later, for that’s what it was for 3000 fans seated at Baarmutha Park in Beechworth.
Smoke haze from distant bushfires made the sunset a glorious sight as Guy Noble conducted a chorus from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers.
After the sun went down, up stepped soprano Marina Prior to sing You Raise Me Up, using an arrangement of Rolf Lovland’s Christian song by Tommy Tycho, a one-time conductor of Opera in the Alps.
Grand opera was introduced in the third item when a young Opera Scholars Australia finalist, Jessica Boyd, gave an electrifying performances as Elvira in the “Mad Scene” from Bellini’s opera I Puritani.
Later two other scholars, Rebecca Gulinello and Anna Voshege, joined Boyd in leading the choir in a stirring chorus from Turandot by Puccini.
Former Albury schoolboy Kane Alexander also began with grand opera, singing Leoncavallo’s Mattinata — in Italian — later joining Prior in Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific.
Alexander recalled he first appeared in the musical at school in Albury at 13.
His first singing teacher, Wilma Friedlieb, parents, Julie and Haydn McErvale and grandmother, Beryl Martin, 94, were in the audience on Saturday to witness a warm reception for a Border boy made good.
Fans of opera and operetta went on to hear more of Bizet, Wagner, Johann Strauss, as well as Broadway’s Jerome Kern.
It was naturally the Can Can by Offenbach that set them clapping as some of the braver women scholars in long gowns kicked up their legs.
Among the Opera Scholars was Albury tenor Lachlan McIntyre, who came on stage just two days after celebrating his 18th birthday.
McIntyre, a James Fallon High student, was among 11 Murray Conservatorium Choir members in the opera in the large Alps Choir accompanying the Melbourne-based Alpha Sinfonia orchestra.
Australian Music Events director Graeme Wall was well pleased with Baarmutha Park as the venue and promised: “See you all next year”.
“It couldn’t have been better — it’s been well kept and well-watered,” he said, also noting the volunteers who helped.