Bradley Daley from La Prima Opera's Ovation
Experience a magical slice of the world's most memorable opera this weekend at Ovation, writes Jesse Kuch.
Coming from a family where his father was a massive fan of Neil Diamond and his brother AC/DC, Bradley Daley hasn’t had the regular introduction into the world of opera.
If you take it from the man himself, one of Australia’s finest tenors didn’t intentionally end up making his life and career based around one of the world’s oldest art forms – instead his introduction to the world of opera was more a “happy accident”, brought on by failure more than success.
Speaking to timeOUT this week ahead of La Prima Opera’s Ovation at Cairns Civic Theatre, Bradley said a funny turn of events saw him move from a failing acting career to the opera world – and he hasn’t looked back.
“It’s a long story, so I’ll keep it short,” he says with a laugh.
“I ended up in opera by default. I studied acting at the Darling Downs Institute, which is now the University of Southern Queensland. Essentially, I sucked and was turfed out on my ear in the first year. (After I left the course) I was called into the office of the head of the music department, Peter York. He’s a silver-haired Beethoven type and he sat me down and said, ‘What are you going to do now, my boy?’ I said I didn’t know – I hadn’t even told my parents yet and they were going to kill me. He told me he thought I had quite a singing voice, why don’t I come across and do the music course? I couldn’t read music to save my life, but it didn’t seem to bother him... He’s a great man who believed in me. It was a disaster in my first year, I didn’t even know what Middle C was. By the end I’d won a few awards, vocalist of the year and it really lit my fire. I found something I enjoyed and I was good at it. It shows it’s so important to have failure. As one door closes, another opens.”
Bradley has sung leading roles in many of both Australia and the world’s top opera productions and says while the big scale productions in Sydney are always fun, he really enjoys working with La Prima Opera, who also work hard to bring the art form to regional areas like Cairns.
“You don’t have to fly to Sydney and pay god knows, nearly $200 a ticket at the Opera House. Opera can be an incredibly expensive art form, because it includes all art forms,” Bradley says.
Bradley says while you won’t see anything on the scale of what you would at the Opera House, La Prima’s Ovation is a perfect slide of the world’s best opera, pleasing both seasoned fans and those coming for the first time.
He says audiences will get a fantastic cross- section of the world’s truly timeless music, including Carmen, La Boheme, La Traviata, The Pearl Fishers, Tosca, Cosi Fan Tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Porgy and Bess and Die Fledermaus.
“It’s not dumbed down at all; all the boys will be in tails and the girls will be in glamorous gowns. This show picks the cherries out from on top of the cakes, giving you guys the icing. It’s the best songs out of operas you’d normally have to watch for two or three hours. Chris McKenna, one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet, ties all the songs together with stories and a bit of audience participation. It really lifts the show. For the people who haven’t been to the opera, it’s a great way to see where it comes from and what it’s all about. For the aficionados, or those who’ve been to opera, it’s like a best of the best CD.”
>> La Prima Opera’s Ovation is at Cairns Civic Theatre on Saturday night, from 7.30pm. Tickets are $19-$38, from ticketlink.com.au or 1300 855 835.
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Opera for the people: Bradley Daley sings in La Prima Opera's Ovation.