Soprano Sara Macliver and mezzo Ashlyn Tymms renew their pre-COVID partnership at Government House Ballroom on November 3.
Tymms co-starred as Hansel and Macliver played Sandman and Dew Fairy in WA Opera’s Hansel and Gretel at Supreme Court Gardens in February 2020.
Next month they join the Cygnus Arioso String Quartet and pianist Raymond Yong for a classical-romantic program that includes Hansel and Gretel’s duet Evening Prayer, and Respighi’s Il Tramonto (Sunset), a “mini-opera” that Tymms sang at the recent York Festival.
And while Macliver has long secured a place in Perth’s pantheon of divas, the pandemic has been a formative time for Tymms.
“COVID has turned everyone’s world upside down, we’ve had to rethink everything, every plan,” Tymms says.
“I was lucky to have the support of WA Opera and WASO, as well as the amazing music community in Perth. We kept playing as much as we could. I was offered roles that were hard work , like Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, and the auditions were still going on.
“I love to sing and explore my technique so for me, luckily I didn’t take time off, I continued to work and prepare as I always have. The projects on the horizon kept me motivated and if I didn’t have a project I created some with friends.
Hansel and Gretel was Tymms’ second Opera in the Park – she will indeed sing her third as Carmen at the 2023 Perth Festival – and her debut as Hansel.
“Hansel was a perfect fit for operatic roles,” she says.
“I loved playing this role with such a local Perth cast. It was truly amazing to sing in front of a sea of people and it confirmed my love of opera and performance.
His later highlights include Dorabella for WA Opera’s Cosi fan tutte, Opera Queensland’s Opera in the Outback, WA Symphony Orchestra’s Last Night of the Proms, new compositions by Australians Melody Eötvös and Katy Abbott with the Flinders Quartet, and as soloist for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
“Il Tramonto is a piece that was suggested to me in 2008 when I studied with Rosamund Illing, a great Australian soprano, at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music,” says Tymms.
“I loved it the first time I listened to it and over the years I’d listen to it and it would calm me down, take me on a journey… It was on my to-do list and recently I’ve been working from more and more on chamber music with Cygnus Arioso and Flinders Quartet in Mebourne.
A conversation in the dressing room with Cygnus Arioso frontman and WASO violinist Akiko Myazawa revealed a mutual fascination with the piece and a plan was formed.
“It’s soulful and the harmonies with the mezzo timbre and strings are soulful in their own right, not to mention the epic story journey that unfolds,” says Tymms.
“It’s Respighi’s miniature opera if you ask me! What a gift for the mezzo voice.
On the program, Macliver singing Der Nussbaum and Widmung by Robert Schumann, and Morgen and Standchen by Richard Strauss; the two singers together in Belle nuit, o nuit d’amour (Les Contes d’Hoffman by Offenbach) and Le Duo de fleurs (Lakme by Delibes); and Yong with Clair de lune by Debussy.
Tymms’ immediate projects include Beethoven Nine at Sydney Town Hall, Messiah at the newly refurbished Opera House Concert Hall and Mahler 3 with WASO and a Messiah at the Perth Concert Hall.
“Before yes, the ultimate role and performance to date, Carmen at WACA!” Tymms says – an extravaganza planned for this year and postponed by COVID.
“To finish! “
Il Tramonto is in the Government House Ballroom at 7 p.m. on November 3, doors open at 6:15 p.m.