The word opera might conjure images of four-hour-long shows, filled with luxurious costumes, lush orchestral music, and snooty season ticket holders - but a new one-woman show coming to Wagga is turning that idea on its head.
Yasmin Arkinstall's autobiographical OCDiva, which is set for the CSU Riverina Playhouse on August 26, tracks a 20-something woman's struggle to balance life, art and mental health challenges.
Co-producer and music director Sarah Penicka-Smith said she brought the idea of the show to Ms Arkinstall after being "blown away" by her talent and individuality at an audition for another show.
"Yasmin was so different to all the other young opera singers. Opera singers when they're young are often so poised and very representational. She was so natural, and her acting and stage presence was really alive," she said.
"We were really interested in her, so we kept following her on social media and discovered she's not only an opera singer, but a mental health advocate living with severe sensory-motor OCD.
"We thought what would happen if we made a show where she could use her singing as a platform for mental health advocacy too?"
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Audiences of shows like this may consider the rehearsals that go into the show itself, but rarely consider the level of physical training that goes into opera.
Singing is a muscular art that, at the elite level, requires a level of fitness akin to elite athletes. The cost and time investment excludes all but the wealthiest, and most committed.
The highly specific voice types opera audiences have come to expect in classic shows like La Boheme or Carmen demand not only training, but age.
For many classical singers, their 20s are difficult years - too old for the purity of a young choral voice, too young for the depth and maturity expected of an operatic diva.
One of the aims of OCDiva was to experiment with a new form that could offer performance opportunities to singers in their 20s - something Ms Arkinstall appreciates as a young opera singer suffering from OCD.
"I was discouraged at university from talking about my OCD and anxiety because I felt I couldn't fully be myself and had to mask and pretend I was normal," she said.
"I can skip a piece if I'm not feeling it on the night, which is really helpful - it's flexible in that sense."
A contemporary opera from root to branch, OCDiva features not only the arias one might expect in an opera, but elements of RnB, musical theatre, and even TikTok dancing.
Ms Arkinstall said the feedback they'd had on the new format had been positive. She hopes members of the audience will be entertained, but also learn something about OCD in the process.
"I really hope it teaches people it's not this quirky love of cleaning," she said.
"You get lots of disturbing intrusive thoughts about pretty much any subject matter, anything is a big fear to that particular sufferer. Even if it is fear of contamination, it's an unwanted experience.
"It's basically a really severe anxiety disorder, which I don't think people understand ... we have to keep advocating for this as sufferers."
Ms Penicka-Smith said she hopes this show inspires others to write shows with the artists' needs in mind.
"The classical music industry in particular is highly perfectionist. It's hard for someone with any kind of health problems, personal problems, or other responsibilities to sustain the kind of perfectionism the industry wants," she said.
"We're missing out on some great artists because of that, so we wanted to find a way for someone to be themselves, and be honest, and also excellent.
"Our starting point was instead of pretending our artist didn't have a disability, that becomes a strength of the work, and consider what Yasmin, with all her skills and OCD needs deliver a great performance."
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