About Jennifer & Stewart
Jennifer’s love of singing was evident from a young age when a small girl could be heard giving trilling concerts of ‘opera’ from the front veranda of her parents’ bay side Melbourne home.
Success in school choirs and musical productions further whetted Jennifer’s appetite for singing. Private lessons, then study at the Victorian College of the Arts, led to the start of Jennifer’s professional career with Victoria State Opera. After several years singing with the company and continuing to hone her craft, Jennifer left Australia for study in the UK and Germany, fully intending to stay in Europe. This was not to be her course however and homesick, she turned her back on those who maintained that her future lay in Europe and returned home to the relaxed and sunnier lifestyle of Australia.
Moving to Brisbane paved the way for a chance encounter, (literally onstage!) with Stewart, who quickly became the on-and-off-stage partner with whom Jennifer was to perform and work in the ensuing years. When the pair presented the first successful OPERATIF! concert, Jennifer saw in the enthusiastic audience reaction, the place for a ‘grass roots’ company in Queensland. Such a company could provide performance opportunities for talented local singers and occasions for all kinds of people to hear and enjoy opera and song. Smaller scale opera productions at affordable prices could further offer much to performers and audiences alike.
Jennifer had always believed that opera should be for all people, not just for the wealthy or highly educated and she delighted in the work of presenting OPERATIF! performances to varied audiences. The company’s acclaimed Madam Butterfly production, which was sung in English, saw a wide demographic, from groups of school children to pensioners, hearing and loving opera, often for the first time. The low price of tickets to the smaller-scale production had allowed many new-comers to attend and it was incredibly satisfying to receive accolades not only from critics but from opera buffs and first-timers alike.
As the company grew there was much work to be done. OPERATIF! needed press-releases written, program notes and programs. Posters were needed and concert brochures and Jennifer found herself drawing on skills largely left behind at Secondary School. Her love of writing and of art came to the fore again as she worked beside Stewart, in roles which steadily grew as the pair worked hard to be ‘all things’ for OPERATIF!
Jennifer still greatly enjoys working beside Stewart, carrying out the day-to-day tasks of running the company. It’s never an easy road and the challenges of maintaining an independent arts company are many. A sense of humour is an invaluable asset and one without which Jennifer says she would not have survived!
Now that Musical Travel has become part of the OPERATIF! charter, Jennifer relishes researching destinations and helping Stewart devise appealing itineraries. The social aspect of sharing travel experiences and music with valued tour clients is the icing on the cake.
Jennifer considers herself fortunate to be able to continue performing, whilst also expanding the boutique Arts business she started with Stewart some two decades ago. Although the all encompassing demands of OPERATIF! have meant declining opportunities to work in mainstream opera, it was quite simply impossible to do both. Today, when work for opera singers in Australia is so tenuous, Jennifer is thankful that OPERATIF! has forged on over the years. With continued hard work, she is hopeful of a bright future for the company.
Stewart Cameron was born in bayside Auckland, New Zealand where aside from enjoying singing in choirs and playing rugby, he grew up working alongside his father, mother and brother in a highly successful family wholesale business. He is a 5th generation small business owner. Little did he know that skills in creating and managing budgets, dealing in foreign currencies and devising sound future directions for a business would be invaluable assets in building OPERATIF!, the business he started with partner Jennifer, via a single very successful concert event, way back in 1994.
As a young student, Stewart still retained an important role in his family's business, whilst completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Italian Literature and Language. Winning New Zealand's biggest opera competition, the N.Z. Herald Aria, saw him leave his homeland for studies at the Opera School at the N.S.W. Conservatorium of Music. After completing his studies in Sydney, Stewart moved to London, spending time there and in Europe, studying and performing. Several years later he returned yearning for the Southern Hemisphere, and like Jennifer, settled in sunny Brisbane where his parents had decided to retire.
He met Jennifer when each had been engaged to sing in a Queensland Pops Orchestra concert at QPAC . This chance meeting was to result in two singers coming together as on and off-stage partners and building steadily a highly successful performance company, OPERATIF! As well as being the company's baritone, Stewart ably took the financial reigns of the company, ensuring that even its staged opera productions, although without funding support, came in on budget. These staged operas were immensely satisfying for Stewart, where he used his love of Italian to rewrite the English translation of Madam Butterfly, his deep appreciation of Gian-Carlo Menotti's works to co-produce The Consul and his practical and creative side coming together to conceive the critically acclaimed opera/theatre piece, 'Opera, A Passionate Affair '. He saw the potential for the work that could be done, the performance opportunities for his colleagues and relished steadily building the company, establishing data bases of business contacts and associates and of course, all important performance patrons, guiding the company in new directions and ensuring its survival through sound financial management. Computer and design skills are constantly being honed and management of OPERATIF!'s website and 'e' news are tasks Stewart enjoys, drawing on his creative and mathematical background.
When Stewart's idea of expanding into musical travel, gave rise to 'Music Lovers Tours' he returned to his sound business training and now once again watches money markets and purchases foreign currencies, making sure that tours remain within budget. He deals with large international companies and ensures that the best value for money is always delivered to OPERATIF!'s tour clients. All of this he does whilst continuing to sing and perform! Stewart has fine two sons, Andrew and Matthew, and considers he is lucky to be doing what he loves where he wants to live, singing whilst working independently to deliver satisfying and memorable experiences to clients and colleagues on many levels. READ ' MUSIC THAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME'