A little about some of the Fine Artists who have appeared under
the Operatif! banner in recent times
Jennifer Parish - Soprano
Born and educated in Melbourne, Jennifer studied at the Victorian College of the Arts, before beginning her professional career with Victoria State Opera. As a young company member, Jennifer worked with visiting vocal coaches and at the invitation of David Harper, went to London and subsequently Germany for intensive periods of study. Australia was always home however and Jennifer returned to settle in Brisbane where she sang with Opera Queensland, Queensland Symphony and Queensland Pops Orchestra. Realising that work opportunities for professional opera singers were scant, in 1994 she launched OPERATIF!onto the Brisbane music scene via a concert with colleagues at Old Government House. The popularity and demands of what quickly grew into a full-time company have occupied much of Jennifer’s time ever since. In OPERATIF! productions, Jennifer received wide acclaim in the taxing role of Magda Sorrel in Menotti's "The Consul" for the 1996 Brisbane Festival and in 1997 shone as Puccini's tragic heroine, Madam Butterfly, in a specially devised production sung in English, first in 1997 for a local Festival and reprised in 1998 for a major season in the Suncorp Theatre. Despite much acclaim for the small-scale operas OPERATIF! produced, necessary Arts funding was elusive and the decision was taken to concentrate on concerts and special events, teaming with other talented colleagues to take the glory of Opera and Song to broad and diverse audiences in S E Queensland and beyond.
Stewart Cameron - Baritone
Stewart Cameron was born in Auckland, New Zealand where he gained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Italian Literature and Language before winning his country's biggest opera competition, the N.Z. Herald Aria. Granted a scholarship to the Opera School at the N.S.W. Conservatorium of Music he moved to Sydney and studied under the direction of Myer Fredman, learning more than a dozen major baritone roles and taking leads in operas including "La Clemenza di Tito" and "Pelleas and Melisande". After graduating, Stewart moved to London to study with renowned vocal coach David Harper. He also studied repertoire in Cologne with the internationally renowned conductor, Simone Young. Whilst overseas Stewart performed regularly on the opera and concert stage, including taking the title role in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro for the Cornwall Festival. Now based in Brisbane, Stewart has performed the role of Papageno in The Magic Flute for Wellington City Opera (NZ) and has appeared as a soloist with all of Queensland’s major orchestras, including QSO, QPO and Pops, and also in operas as a principal with OPERATIF! and Opera Queensland. Stewart performed the role of John Sorrel in the highly acclaimed production of ‘The Consul’ for the Brisbane Festival. The following year he sang the role of Consul Sharpless, in Madam Butterfly, a production devised by OPERATIF! for a local Festival and later reprised the following year for a mainstream ( and sold-out ) season at Suncorp Theatre. Two years ago he was the featured soloist in The Best of British with The Queensland Pops Orchestra at the Concert Hall,QPAC Currently, Stewart concentrates much of his energy on the running of, and performing with OPERATIF! in the company’s busy annual calendar of concerts. OPERATIF's Music Lovers Travel and special events are a booming part of their business. Recently he was one of two Queenslanders to be invited to contribute to the world-wide 'Sustainable Futures in Music : The Opera Project', a long-running assessment of the future of opera, run by the International Music Council of Paris and the Music Council of Australia.
John Woods- Pianist/Accompanist
JOHN WOODS was born in Stirling, Scotland. After studying piano and bassoon at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama he was awarded scholarships from The Scottish Arts Council and The Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust to specialise in piano accompaniment at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He has since worked at the R.N.C.M. and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. In 1992 he joined the staff of The Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University as an accompanist and vocal coach, preparing many of its operas, including the Australian premiere of Britten's "Billy Budd", as part of the 1993 Brisbane Biennial Festival. Engagements have taken him throughout Great Britain, Europe and Australia, accompanying singers and instrumentalists on the concert platform and in radio and television broadcasts. He has worked with some of the finest singers of the present generation including Joan Rodgers, Amanda Roocroft, Simon Keenlyside and in particular, Jane Eaglen. In Australia he has appeared in concert with Lisa Gasteen, Jeffrey Black. Joanna Cole and Rosario la Spina. He has accompanied master classes given by several distinguished singers including Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Janet Baker, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sir Peter Pears and Luigi Alva, whom he has also accompanied in recital. As Musical Associate for Granada Television, John Woods has credits on a wide range of arts and drama programmes which include "The Dame Joan Hammond Masterclasses", "Coronation Street", "Sherlock Holmes" and "Lost Empires" - the eight-hour serialisation of the J.B. Priestley novel in which he worked with the late Sir Laurence Olivier. -
Lynne Sterling Jordan - Pianist/Accompanist
As a young student Lynne Sterling Jordan gained a sound foundation in piano with the Sisters of Mercy in Toowoomba. Whilst studying at the Queensland Conservatorium of music, Lynne was a finalist in the ABC Concerto competition three years running. She went on to play both piano and harpsichord with the Queensland Orchestra for several years under Patrick Thomas and since these early days has enjoyed a diverse and always busy performance career. Lynne’s aptitude as an accompanist was evident early on when, whilst still a student herself, she joined the staff at the Conservatorium, accompanying vocal students. She remained on staff working with singers and students of accompaniment for some 20 years. Lynne has played for dignitaries including Her Majesty the Queen and has worked with noted Australian conductors including Richard Mills, Tommy Tycho and the late Brian Stacey. Often sought after as an accompanist for major vocal competitions, including, for many years the Marion Marty, Lynne has also been called upon by major production companies, including Cameron Mackintosh and Robert Frost, to prepare and accompany their singers. Lynne has worked with some of Australia’s greatest voices, including Margreta Elkins and the late Donald Smith. She has worked extensively with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in television and radio productions. Continuing to enjoy a multifaceted professional career, Lynne now travels extensively as an adjudicator, examiner and performer. She joined OPERATIF! in 1995 as accompanist and has been instrumental in the company’s development and success. She is immediate past of President of the Queensland Accompanists Guild.
David Hibbard - Bass
Australian bass David Hibbard graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1981. As a young artist he gained experience singing minor roles with the State Opera of South Australia before study in New York with Daniel Ferro and in England with Sir Peter Pears. A contract with the English National Opera saw him as a principal in Die Meistersinger, Julius Caesar and Rossini’s, Moses in Egypt as well as in Simone Boccanegra for the Glyndeboune Festival Opera. He returned to Australia in1988 to appear with The Australian Opera in a number of roles including Fiesco in Boccanegra, Ramphis in Aida, Monterone in Rigoletto, The Speaker in The Magic Flute and Publio in La Clemenza di Tito. In 1990, after receiving the German Operatic Award from Opera Foundation Australia, he commenced a contract with Cologne Stadtsoper, performing roles by a wide variety of composers before, in 1992, being appointed first Bass with the Bremen Stadts - Theater where he performed Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, Sparafucile, Baron Ochs, Prince Gremin, Colline and Alvise Badoero in La Gioconda. Since returning to Australia in 1994 to sing Sarastro for the Western Australian Opera, he divides his time between Europe and Australia.
A highlight in recent years has been the role of Fafner in the acclaimed State Opera of South Australia’s Ring Cycle. When his busy schedule allows, David is delighted to lend his talents to OPERATIF!
Spiros Rantos ( violin ) and Bracchi Tilles ( piano )
When it comes to musical journeys, violinist Spiros Rantos and pianist Brachi Tilles have had one of the sweetest. It was at a train station in Vienna, the city of music, where Greek-born Spiros Rantos and Israeli-born Brachi Tilles first met and started their musical partnership. Brachi a graduate of Tel-Aviv University, also studied in Italy and the USA whilst Spiros has studied in Athens, Vienna and USA and taught in major music institutions in both Vienna and Graz. They have performed and recorded in most of the musical centres of the world including two years of successful seasons at the Musicverein and the Vienna Concert Hall. In 1976 they visited Australia for a six-month Artists-in-Residence program at the (then) Victorian College of the Arts and so enjoyed their time that they decided to stay here! From 1978 to 1985 they taught at the University of Southern Queensland. They then spent a decade in Melbourne before settling in Brisbane where Spiros was a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. Their playing combines Viennese finesse with Mediterranean temperament.....central European refinement with Southern charm and warmth. This gives a special magic to their performances. As artists who have played all over the world, the pair believe music is ‘always a ‘trip’, be it a spiritual one or a visit to different cultures and times.
Hayley Sugars - mezzo-soprano
Hayley Sugars holds a Bachelor of Music Honours from the USQ and a Master of Music from Queensland Conservatorium. She has enjoyed scholarship and competition success including as winner of The National Lieder Competition, finalist in the National Operatic Aria and the Australian National Oratorio Competitions, and second in the S. E. Qld Aria and Concerto Competition. Hayley joined Opera Qld Chorus in 2005, was a member of the company’s Developing Artist Program in 2007 and became a Young Artist in 2008. Hayley has performed extensively on the concert platform and sung in master classes for Yvonne Kenny, Richard Miller, Neil Semer and Richard Bonynge. She recently sang the role of Cherubino in the concert performance of Marriage of Figaro for Brisbane Festival. in 2011 Hayley won the German-Australian Opera Grant worth $64,000, which will enabled her to perform at the and study in Wiesbaden, Germany. She has just returned from a second year in Germany where she took principal roles in numerous operas including Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni and The Turn of the Screw.
Max Olding and Pamela Page - piano
Maxwell Charles Olding AM's career has embraced conducting symphonic, choral, operatic and theatre works as well as teaching, administration, and the roles of organist and choirmaster. In 1950, at age 21, he was appointed an Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) Examiner. He won the Commonwealth final of the 1952 ABC’s Concerto Competition. He began his tertiary teaching career at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. He was an adjudicator at the 1952 City of Sydney Eisteddfod and has since adjudicated at most of Australia’s major music competitions, has chaired many of them and has acted as external examiner for higher degrees at the Universities of Melbourne, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Southern Queensland and Queensland University of Technology.
Pamela Harcourt Page won an Empire Overseas Scholarship to study at Trinity College of Music, London, where she was awarded the Maude Seton Prize for the most outstanding student. She later performed on BBC radio and television and gave solo and concerto performances in London and the English counties. She was subsequently accepted into Walter Gieseking’s master class in Saarbrücken. Back in Australia, she provided the close-up scenes of the pianist's hands in Wherever She Goes, a 1953 biographical film about Eileen Joyce (whose character was otherwise played by Suzanne Parrett). She gave many concerto performances in all capital cities, recitals on ABC radio, live TV appearances and also hosted a TV children’s show. Later she was appointed as Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Music, University of Queensland. She is also a painter. Max Olding and Pamela Page have one son, renowned violinist, Dene Olding.
Bradley Daley - tenor
Bradley Daley was born in Australia and studied music at the University of Southern Queensland and the Queensland Conservatorium before continuing his private studies in the United States and Europe. Since making his debut with the English National Opera as Rodolfo in La Boheme, Bradley has worked with a variety of companies in the United Kingdom and Europe. These have included Opera North, Welsh National Opera and English National Opera and houses in Italy, France and Belgium. In 2005, he was invited to give the first performance of a Western opera at the Hanoi Opera House. He has performed many roles including Alfredo in La traviata, Radames in Aida, Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera, Manrico in Il trovatore, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Cavaradossi in Tosca, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Calaf in Turandot, Peter in Peter Grimes, Samson in Samson et Delilah, Mao Tse Tung in Nixon in China. He has performed many Oratorios including the Verdi Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony no 9. Concert appearances have included Festival Hall, the Barbican, Brangwyn Hall in Wales,
Groayes Festspiehaus Salzburg, Melbourne Town Hall and the concert halls of the Queensland Arts Centre and the Sydney Opera House.
Elisha Fa’i – Hulton - mezzo soprano
A rising star in New Zealand, Elisha was born in Palmerston North, of proud Samoan heritage. Elisha currently resides in Rotorua where she teaches at the Waiariki Academy of Singing and Music. Elisha holds a Bachelor of Music (Performance) and a Post-Graduate Diploma with distinction (Performance) from the University of Auckland. She also attended the New Zealand Opera School in 2011 and 2012. The recipient of the 2012 Linda Wootten Memorial Schoalrship, the 2011 Margot Lloyd Scholarship and 2009 Iosefa Enari Memorial Scholarship, she was placed 3rd at the 2011 New Zealand Aria competition. She enjoys a varied singing career, ranging from engagements to sing at special events such as the Westfield Style Pasifika fashion awards, for the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice who visited New Zealand and at the opening ceremony of the 2007 South Pacific Games. Elisha has been a soloist in many oratorios, including Mass-Britten, Gloria-Rutter (Auckland Choral Society) and Stabat Mater-Pergolesi, Creation - Haydn (North Shore Chorale). Elisha has studied and performed a number of operatic roles, including the title roles in Handel works, Rinaldo and Xerse. She had toured nationally with Operatunity performing concerts of French and Italian repertoire and has sung with New Zealand Opera Chorus.
Benjamin Fifita Makisi - Tenor
Benjamin is a Tenor of Samoan and Tongan Descent who has been affectionately dubbed the ‘Polynesian Pavarotti’ because if his stature, stage presence and his strong, pure voice. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand and also a Master of Performance (Opera) from University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has won many awards and International competitions including Australia’s prestigiousSydney McDonald’s Aria Competition in 2002.
Benjamin has appeared in many musicals and has sung lead roles for both Opera New Zealand and Opera Australia.
He has performed for HRH Prince Charles at the Aotea Center, Auckland and has sung for many dignitaries including former Prime Minister of NZ Hon. Helen Clarke, former Prime Minister of Australia Hon. John Howard, HRH King Ta’ufahau of Tonga and at the funeral of the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Benjamin continues to pursue his goal of working as an International Opera singer and hopes to inspire under-privileged children and to combine his operatic abilities with his Pacific Heritage music, to encourage the importance of being a Pacific Islander through his cultural identity. Benjamin has been a guest artist with OPERATIF! on several occasions and is featured on their latest CD, Serenade. Benjamin is currently based in London.