Boyd Owen winner of The Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship 2017. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Since taking out the winning title in The Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship in July 2017, Boyd Owen's classical singing career as a tenor has blossomed, with his vocally demanding and exciting new role in Melbourne Opera's 2018 Australian premiere of Rossini's Otello, directed by Bruce Beresford.
Cast as one of five tenors, Boyd plays antagonist Rodrigo, who is deeply in love with Desdemona. He admits that taking on this role is much more involved than in the original play with plenty of sword fights and shouting matches in a dramatic plot that includes ensembles, arias and tenor duets.
"Lightning fast runs up and down, enormous leaps, very high and very low notes can all happen several times on one page and in one aria or duet - it is honestly one of the hardest roles I've studied. This is what makes it so interesting and attractive as a singer - it's like attacking vocal Mount Everest," Boyd explained.
Rossini's Otello additionally represents somewhat of a milestone in the history of opera, paving the way for other composers, a known fact which Boyd is intimately familiar with through his role.
"It is a rather unique opera in that, alongside the other roles, it calls for the casting of no less than five tenors!" he said.
"Rossini demands so much from a singer. He fits into a period of opera composing known as 'bel canto' which simplistically translates from Italian as 'beautiful singing.' However, the vocal demands are anything but simple," he continued to say.
For Boyd, performing in Otello not only means being a part of Australia's first ever production, providing a glimpse into Rossini's initial setting in 15th Century Venice, but it is also marks a rare opportunity to work with Academy Award nominated director Bruce Beresford.
"I have admired his movies for many years, never imagining that I would one day work with him. What a dream and an honour!" he said.
With regards to competing and winning Sydney Eisteddfod's major opera scholarship, Boyd expressed the immense value of this to his operatic career, and which has enabled him to soar to new heights.
"Winning the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship is a real game changer. People are not always aware that the cost of operatic training at an elite level is extremely expensive. To be the best you need to learn from the best…Without the scholarship this kind of tuition is out of reach for most singers," he admitted.
In terms of what an audience member could expect from this dramatic masterpiece, Boyd had this to say:
"If there was ever a production for an audience to enjoy some Olympic level vocals with an equally dramatic plot - this is the one!"
Rossini's Otello brings Melbourne Opera's 2018 season to a closure and will take place at The Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne at 7:30pm on the 17, 24, 27 October and at 2pm on 20 October.