Jessica Harper, 2017 Opera & Arts Support Group Vocal Scholarship Winner.
Soprano Jessica Harper, runner-up in the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship and winner of the 2017 Opera & Arts Support Group Vocal Scholarship, shared with Sydney Eisteddfod how growing up in a musical household inspired her passion for Opera. She also discussed why the characters of Thaïs and Cressida appealed to her when picking her aria's for the Semi-Final.
What inspired your passion for opera?
Growing up in a very musical household meant a career in the arts was inevitable. My parents (wonderful, generous people that they are) gave me a youth subscription to the Australian Opera when I was in Year 7 and the first performance I saw was Puccini’s La Bohème. I decided to rummage through the immense CD collection at home to find a recording and work out what I was in for. I sat on the couch with the libretto and did my best to follow along with the Italian. The Act 1 love duet ‘o soave fanciulla’ came on and from that moment I was completely hooked. It was Freni and Gedda singing – bliss.
what inspired you to start singing?
I have always loved singing – I was that maddening child who was singing and humming Disney tunes around the house and at school – All. The. Time. The sensation of making sound has always been the most wonderful thing to me.
Tell us a little bit about Dis-moi sue je suis belle and At the haunted end of the day and why you chose to perform it at the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship Semi-Final.
As with all of my Opera Scholarship choices, both Thaïs and Cressida are characters whom I perceive to be incredibly powerful and self - aware women. There is something very empowering in being able to play them. The same echoes true for Donna Anna in Non mi dir and Violetta in Sempre Libera (my other two pieces). It is an honour to have the opportunity to tell the stories of these characters. While most of them don’t have the happiest ending, they all have integrity, and I adore that.
Which other performers do you most like to listen to, and why?
My peers. I learn so much from everyone at the same stage as me – it’s much easier to understand technique and the way voices work when you’re listening to those around you still taking that journey along with you. Obviously I love and am very inspired by the masters in this field as well, but it’s always my peers who teach me the most through their performing.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
“Make sure you’ve done the work” – Joyce DiDonato
What are you hoping to achieve next?
I am putting down some ground work now to audition for various Young Artist Programs in Europe – I would love to win a contract somewhere and start working in an opera house. Sinking my teeth into that sort of challenge would be unreal.