Combined Pirie choir to perform in opera

MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Students are excited to perform in the Opera Australia performance of Madama Butterfly at the Northern Festival Centre.
MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Students are excited to perform in the Opera Australia performance of Madama Butterfly at the Northern Festival Centre.

Students across Port Pirie and Napperby have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in an Opera Australia performance on Thursday.

The company will bring Madame Butterfly to the Northern Festival Centre and for two of their songs, the 15 students from most of the city's schools will join the professionals to tell the story.

Indra Benson is a primary school performing arts teacher and was approached by Country Arts SA to be part of the performance.

She was asked to train and conduct the children's chorus.

After an intensive in Brisbane with the opera, Indra returned and put the call out to all schools to see whether they had any students who would be interested.

Since July, those interested students have come together each week for an hour to practice the two pieces that they will be performing, one song in Italian and one a humming chorus.

Indra says that both of these pieces have been challenging but they have so much support from the Opera that they are coming together nicely.

"One is the children's chorus in act one and it is the wedding scene. It is in Italian," she said.

"For all of us, Italian is not our first language, so we needed to get the right Italian vowel sounds in addition to the right pitch because with opera we are quite high in sections.

"The other piece we have is the humming chorus and although it sounds easy because we are humming, it has incredibly long phases where we need good breath control. We are trying to work our control and improve that," she said. Year 5 student from Napperby Primary School Rex Nicholls says he has been into music since he was five and thought that this show would be a great opportunity.

"I am most looking forward to being on a big stage and seeing the crowd. The hardest bit has been the humming chorus because it is a bit hard with breathing," he said.

Neesa Marwick, a Year 8 student from Mid North Christian College has previous experience as a soloist in a primary choir but has not had the opportunity to sing this year so is excited for the upcoming show.

"I decided to join since it seemed like a really fun and exciting thing. I have sung some high notes, but not opera. It has been really interesting, I really enjoy learning another language but the humming chorus has been extremely difficult," she said.

One student has been chosen to be Madame Butterfly's son. Playing the role is Year 4 student Jaxon Phillipps from Solomontown Primary School. Jaxon says he is nervous but he is also equally as excited.

"I am nervous because it is something I have never down in front of a huge crowd. I am excited that my mum and dad are coming and that I get to see the show," he said.

For more information on the show or to buy a ticket, visit the Country Arts SA website: https://www.countryarts.org.au/events/madama-butterfly/.