An international conductor has come full circle being involved in the production of Madame Butterfly, set to hit the stage in Wagga on Thursday night.
Warwick Stengards has been conducting for decades, a career that started with his love of composing.
“I started when I was at school,” he said.
“I went onto university wanting to be a composer and of course you would want it played, so you would throw the parts at friends and you would end up conducting.
“I was very lucky to have some good teachers that pushed me in the right direction.”
Mr Stengards said one of the challenges in opera is the singers will also have actions and movements to worry about.
“It’s not always their first priority to get their music in perfect sync with the orchestra,” he said.
“That’s where I come in.
“You also play a football coach role where you have just got to motivate everyone to be on the same page.”
Madame Butterfly was the first opera Mr Stengards conducted.
“Back last century,” he said.
“It was quite a challenge and I have conducted it a few times since.”
Mr Stengards said the current production that Wagga will be treated to has been modernised a bit.
“It’s all about the Americans exploiting Japanese culture which is a fairly current theme in our society,” he said.
“Each time the direction is different and this one has an extra challenge because it’s such a small orchestra playing it.
“It’s a challenge to get all those Puccini colours into a small chamber orchestra.”
The Riverina Central Choir will also be performing alongside Opera Australia on the night, Mr Stengards said.
“Everywhere we go, we pick up a new local children’s choir,” he said.
“That helps to keep it really fresh.”
Mr Stengards said he believes Australia is learning to love opera again, a fact which Wagga’s sold-out theatre demonstrates.
“For me, it’s the ultimate art form,” he said.
“It has every art form within it, from acting to architecture.”
U.S. Naval officer B.F. Pinkerton is ashore in Japan, and enchanted with its beauty and freedoms.
He decides to take a wife, and when the gorgeous geisha Butterfly arrives, he is transfixed by her charms. She falls hopelessly in love, and a passionate marriage begins.
Years later, Pinkerton has returned home. Abandoned by her family, Butterfly waits faithfully for her husband to return. Dawn breaks on a ship in the harbour. What will become of her great hope?
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