Bronwyn Douglass, finalist in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship and runner-up of the Opera Arts Support Group Vocal Scholarship (30 & Under), spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod about what inspired her passion for Opera and the best piece of performance advice she has ever received.
What inspired your passion for opera?
I was always drawn to classical music. Two of my favourite things to do as a little girl was to watch recordings of ballet, and also Jane Powell movies with my Grandmother. When I first listened to Opera it was like all of my favourite things had come together. Classical singing and orchestral music is such a powerful combination, I couldn’t help but be inspired.
Who/what inspired you to start singing?
At the age of nine I saw my first clip of opera - Dame Joan Sutherland singing Lucia. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I have wanted to be an opera singer ever since, even if I didn’t always think it was possible.
Who inspires you and why?
I find many people inspiring, but at the moment one of the people I find most impressionable is Elīna Garanča. I think she is an incredible singer and actress. I watched an interview with her at the interval of a recording of Carmen at the Met. She is so dedicated to her art, and so talented, while also being so down to earth. One cannot help but admire her character and abilities.
Tell us a little bit about the songs you chose to perform at the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship Semi-Final.
These are two of my favourite Arias to sing, which is why I chose them for my Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship program. I love the drama of the O mio Fernando, Donizetti writes so beautifully for the voice. I enjoy the different sections of the aria and the chance to show different vocal colours. The Dove sei, amato bene is a wonderful addition to every program. Such a simple but beautiful melodic line. It’s an absolute pleasure to sing.
Which other performers do you most like to watch, and why?
I also love to watch Joyce Di Donato, she is an inspiration and so supportive of young singers. She has created so many great online videos with advice and there are so many great masterclass recordings that she has done. I love how passionate she is. I also like Isabel Leonard. There is an incredible video of her performing Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Met.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
The best piece of advice for me in regards to performance is the quote: “To play an incorrect note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable”. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in details and forget that your main job is communication to the audience, a lot of that comes from emotion.
What are you hoping to achieve next?
I hope to continue with a combination of performance and further study to learn and improve as much as possible. An opera singer’s work is never done and I love that! I have several overseas programs that I hope to take part in which include intense coaching, lessons, stagecraft coaching and operatic performance opportunities. Without sounding cliché, I hope to constantly work to be better than I was yesterday.