20th May, 2021

An interview with 2021 Young Artist Rebecca Cassidy

Soprano Rebecca Cassidy returns to the Young Artist Program in 2021. When we spoke to her recently, Rebecca was excited and ready to see what 2021 brings for her.

Can you tell us a bit about why you love opera and have chosen to make a career out of singing opera?

Opera to me is about passion, emotion and storytelling in it’s most exciting form. There is something about Opera that gets under your skin. Opera is a perfect partnership between music and words intertwining to create something that is so moving and powerful. The way opera singers use their whole bodies to create this wall of sound is so primal – and it connects with our souls and resonates our emotions in a way that not many other things can.

As for why I personally chose to pursue a career in Opera – I have had many interesting experiences in my life and one thing I have learned along the way is that it is much more enjoyable human experience to have a ‘purpose’ in your life. I believe that people are generally happier when they are pursuing what they were put on this earth to do, rather than what others expect of them or what you think you should do as a job because it earns a lot of money. For me, when I am singing and I can see people in the audience who are moved to tears or who tell me afterward that my singing reminded them of a loved one or helped them through a difficult time – it is a very special and humbling privilege and those experiences are something I treasure. For me, personally, I am lost without music, without singing, without performing. It is an extension of me, like a body part. Without music I am not whole.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Well, the entire year of 2020 was by far the highlight of my career to date. It was a terrible year in so many ways for a lot of people but funnily, 2020 was also sort of a break-out year for me. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work I had done previously mixed with being in the right place at the right time with some amazing people who supported and believed in me and I still pinch myself at the opportunities the Young Artist Program provided me in 2020.

My first ever solo recital titled “Songs at Sunset” at the beautiful venue of West Village. I will never forget the standing ovation I received in such a lovely setting. I got to sing some of my favourite songs and tell people what they meant to me. It was such a special moment for me – and here I go, crying again at remembering that special night.

Getting to understudy my first ever principal role… and what a role it was. Even though when Tristan and Isolde was cancelled it was heartbreaking, I learnt so much from that experience. (Not just the four hours of countless German words and notes haha!) Isolde is a character who is so complex, she gets inside of you. The only way to sing Isolde and survive is to fully embrace the character, mentally, physically and spiritually. The role itself has been described as “Everest for Sopranos”, and I can tell you it is…but it is not impossible to climb if you have the correct preparation and it was a joy to learn and sing. My neighbours may never forgive me though.

Singing for the first time in the QPAC Concert Hall as a principal artist for ENCORE – Opera Queensland Returns to the Stage. I got to sing a Puccini duet with Rosario La Spina who has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember. Pinch me, someone! What an unbelievable experience singing beside some of the best voices in Australia that I have admired and watched from the audience and wished I was in their shoes. It felt like riding on this massive wave of sound when we were all together. There were moments in the finale, ‘Make Our Garden Grow’, where I honestly felt like I couldn’t sing it was so surreal. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but it was an incredible moment I can’t really describe how much that meant to me.

Do you have a dream role you can tell us about and why it is your dream role?

This has changed for me recently actually! My dream role was always Tosca, for as long as I can remember. But recently I have been studying Desdemona from Verdi’s Otello, and she is my new dream role. Otello itself is a masterpiece in every way, and Desdemona especially is written so beautifully. She is so heartbreakingly devoted to Otello it is emotionally so fulfilling to sing. Desdemona feels like the perfect fit for me in every way and I can relate to so many things she does and says.

Is there a venue or company that you aspire to perform with?

Royal Opera House Covent Garden. After a really devastating relationship breakdown a few years ago I saved every penny I had and treated myself to my first overseas trip. I went by myself to London as a circuit breaker to regroup and clear my head and as a birthday present, my boss at the time bought me a ticket to go see Andrea Chenier at Covent Garden. Roberto Alagna was in the title role and Sondra Radvanovsky was a stunning Maddalena. I had never sat in a theatre that beautiful or heard singing of that calibre live. I was transfixed, I was watching their every move, every breath…just thinking “How do they DO that??”. It was a transformative moment in my life. And I have had a dream to sing in that theatre ever since.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

When I’m not listening to classical music my next favourite is country music. It’s the music I grew up on and never fails to get me in a good mood. My favourites on repeat at the moment are Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks and Lee Brice.

What do you hope this extra year as an Opera Queensland Young Artist will bring you?

I hope that the Opera Queensland Young Artist Program will help me bridge the gap between young artist and professional principal artist with a greater knowledge of what it takes to be a working, professional freelance artist in the global arts landscape. I hope to better develop myself with this amazing training and be able to achieve my dream of being a professional opera singer for many years to come.

Thank you to Opera Queensland and our audiences for being so welcoming and supportive of me. I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings!

Help secure the future of opera

Opera Queensland’s 2021 Annual Appeal will again support the Young Artist Program, among other key projects and productions that will help us achieve our purpose of growing a community connected by the transformative power of opera.

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