Opera Australia Blog

Opera on the Beach: Q&A with Jonathan Abernethy

Photo by Darcy Grant.

Photo by Darcy Grant.

As a performer, does this amount to the most unusual/challenging place you have performed?

Absolutely! You couldn’t be more exposed to the elements than on a beach in Queensland. Acoustically it’s better than I originally suspected, however I think I’m right in saying this, that even a change in wind direction effects the natural feedback that the singers hear on stage. It’s my first time working with microphones in any opera my first time singing outdoors. You have to be really on your technique to ensure you aren’t at risk of over singing in this environment.

What’s it like up there on the stage? Can you feel the elements?

When I first walk up to the set at the beginning of the show I have to be very careful of any sand under foot before stepping on stage as it can make it really slippery. Occasionally when we are on stage we can hear the waves rolling in, but usually it’s drowned out by the sound of the orchestra. During rehearsals it was bizarre looking at the conductor on the screen in front of you, then turning to one side to see a surfer catching a big wave into the beach.

ABERNETHY, Jonathan - headshot 2013 (lo res)

What’s the atmosphere like among the performers on stage? 

Electric… On any given day we love what we do, but this is just incredible. I know “the wonderful beaches of Queensland” phrase has been excessively used in this instance but it really is just the most incredible atmosphere. As a performer you get used to being situated in the dark corners of the opera house while waiting to go on, but out here we have the waves rolling onto the beach, and you can lookout across the sea towards the lit up skyline of Surfers Paradise.

In addition to the location, the whole team involved with getting the show from concept to reality have been incredible. It has been such a smooth and hassle free process. The performers have certainly had a very busy week this week in the lead up to opening, but everyone back stage, from the orchestra to the chorus and all of the principals are feeling extremely excited and pumped for the show – it’s a great environment for any performer to be in the middle of.

If you had just one sentence to convince someone to come to Opera on the Beach, what would you say? 

This is an epic location for some of the best music put to paper, this is more than just opera, it’s an experience for people of all ages and backgrounds. Not matter what you’re into you’ll love Opera On The Beach!

Have you had a chance to explore any of the Gold Coast? Do you have a standout experience?

As we’ve had such a busy week unfortunately all I’ve had time for is body surfing in the pristine and warm water next to our set, and walking down the coast line and around the heads… it’s been very tough. I’ve also been watching some of the surfing out on the point, today there was a nice low flyby from a few F18 fighter jets that really put a smile on my face.

Opera on the Beach is on in Coolangatta for three nights only – May 9,10,11. Book your tickets here.

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