An interview with Shaun Brown
23rd July, 2021

An interview with Shaun Brown

Hot off the heels of his appearance in The Marriage of Figaro, Shaun will next perform in the Opera Queensland Studio Series.  We spoke to Shaun about his upcoming recital with wife, soprano Sarah Crane, in which they will perform song-cycles by Gustav Mahler and Robert Schumann.

Each recital in the Opera Queensland Studio Series is unique to the artists who curate the program. Can you tell us more about why you and Sarah chose Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Schumann’s Dichterliebe for your recital?

It was a group decision for this recital, settling on two of the greatest lieder composers and two seminal works of the genre. As a baritone, singing Dichterliebe seems to be a right of passage, even though it was originally composed for tenor. Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, the great German baritone, changed that though and now it seems all baritones put their own slant on this incredible work.

What can audiences expect from A Poet’s Love?

Audiences will hear these two works in their intended original setting. Think of this as people performing in a grand parlour to a small audience sat close to the performers, not just sitting passively in the stalls a long way from the stage.

Even though the works were composed some six decades apart, both composers chose texts from the early 19th Century. Listen out for the differences in the way Mahler and Schumann use their own musical ideas and experience from different eras to interpret text from around the same time.

Is there a part of these either of the song-cycles that is more challenging or rewarding to perform?

When you sing any song-cycle the greatest reward is when you make a connection with the audience in the first song and take them along with you on the emotional journey through the cycle. This is when you know you’ve gotten it right. It’s difficult when, like most song-cycles, there’s one or two songs that are very well known by the audience and you must make sure that these pieces are perfect. Audiences often have preconceived ideas of what the popular songs should sound like, and it can be challenging managing that with your performance on the lessor know songs. It is up to us to make these pieces our own and put a new perspective on the reading of these songs.

Can you tell us more about performing with Sarah?

Unfortunately, Sarah and I haven’t sung in many operas together, but we have performed in many concerts across Australia in many different venues and landscapes. It’s always a thrill to perform with her as I feel totally at ease with her on stage – almost like I know her and what she is going to do – funny that!

My dream concert would be to sing the title role of Eugene Onegin with Sarah singing Tatyana. We have always wanted to perform this opera as it is probably the one great vehicle for soprano and baritone, coupled with wonderful, powerful music by Tchaikovsky.

A Poet’s Love
Sarah Crane, Shaun Brown & Alex Raineri

26 & 27 November
Opera Queensland Studio, South Bank
Tickets $85

Presented in partnership with Brisbane Music Festival

A Poet’s Love – Sarah Crane, Shaun Brown & Alex Raineri

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