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Conductor Christopher van Tuinen leads a program filled with a variety of classical pieces, ranging from Verdi to Gilbert and Sullivan. Baritone Shaun Brown and tenor Rosario La Spina deliver stunning performances of well-known arias, but the program also includes lesser-known selections. The Festival of Outback Opera in Australia aims to bring opera to remote towns in a meaningful way, focusing on building relationships with local communities. Despite showcasing music mostly composed by dead white males, the festival emphasizes inclusivity and respect for the ancient lands and cultures of Australia.

First Nations soprano Nina Korbe, with Koa ancestry, offers a powerful performance at the festival, connecting ancient stories with modern interpretations of opera. Kate Miller-Heidke’s performance from her opera The Rabbits conveys the suffering of Indigenous people in an emotional and haunting way. Mezzo-soprano Shikara Ringdahl presents a concert that juxtaposes opera with pop music, introducing regional communities to diverse performers and new musical genres. The festival highlights the joy of European high art in the Australian landscape and celebrates the unity found in shared expressions of human creativity.

The concept of bringing opera to the outback may seem unconventional, but Opera Queensland artistic director Patrick Nolan emphasizes the importance of establishing a deep and sustained relationship with local communities. The festival aims to respect and honor the ancient lands and cultures of Australia while showcasing a variety of musical performances. With diverse performers and a range of classical and contemporary pieces, the Festival of Outback Opera demonstrates the power of music to connect people and tell stories that resonate across generations and backgrounds.

The festival’s commitment to inclusivity and cultural respect is evident in the diverse lineup of performers and pieces selected for the program. By showcasing both well-known and lesser-known works from the classical canon, the festival aims to engage audiences in a meaningful and authentic way. As the Festival of Outback Opera continues in Winton and Longreach, it offers a unique opportunity to experience the joy and beauty of opera in a setting that celebrates the rich history and diversity of Australia. Through music and storytelling, the festival brings together artists and audiences from different backgrounds to create something truly special and uniquely Australian.

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