Central Coast Opera - Our History
In the Beginning:
The Central Coast Opera began in 2005 when Lilija Sile, then Head of the Vocal Department at the Central Coast Conservatorium suggested the production of an Opera on the Central Coast. Lilija aimed this project specifically around educating children and young students at the Central Coast Conservatorium in the art of Opera.
In consultation with Christopher Bearman (former Artistic Director, Central Coast Conservatorium) the very first Opera Weekend and subsequent performance at Gosford Primary School Hall occurred. The aim was to present excerpts from a number of Operas staged in costumes, with stage makeup and wigs. This inaugural Opera event was presented on 19 and 20 of February 2005. Two intensive days of Workshops on acting, ensemble work and stage craft involved students of the Central Coast Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium and members of the Central Coast Philharmonia Choir (in total 10 performers) coached through by teachers Lilija Sile, Meagan Gaffney-Ward and Michaele Archer.
This Opera Weekend was concluded with a performance conducted by Christopher Bearman and accompanied on piano by Allyne Brislan.
2008 'Amahl And The Night Visitors' by G.C.Menotti
Following the first success of the inaugural event the opera project evolved further with the decision stage a One Act Children's Opera in November 2008 with music provided by the Central Coast Youth Orchestra (CCYO). John Nottle (CCYO Conductor) suggested to take on one of the famous Children's Operas: 'Amahl And The Night Visitors' by G.C.Menotti. This Opera was staged in a larger venue and with larger number of performers than the first event, produced by Lilija Sile, directed by teacher Judy Marshall-Schutte again proved a wonderful success.
Central Coast Opera was born! An opera production with a focus on youth and engaging the community was planned to occur every 2 – 3 years on the NSW Central Coast.
2009 'Brundibár' by Hans Krása
In 2009 the Children's Opera ‘Brundibár’ was chosen. This Opera was composed during World War II by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister. Originally performed by the children of Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. The Nazis even filmed one of the 55 performances for a propaganda film, showing Terezin to be a model city for the Jews. The opera, although written earlier, was smuggled into the camp and is most famous for being performed at the Terezin concentration camp. The children were mostly gassed in the camp's gas chambers after the final performances, and Krása himself was murdered shortly afterward at Auschwitz. Few survived, however one survivor was Central Coast Resident John Glass whose wife was studying voice at the Conservatorium at the time of our production. The first performance of this Opera by Central Coast Conservatorium students was dedicated to John Glass (sadly John passed away two years after our production) and all children of the Original Cast.
2011 ‘The Seeds of the Soul’ by students of the Central Coast Conservatorium
In December 2011 our third short Children’s Opera ‘The Seeds of the Soul’, produced by Lilija Sile enabled students of the Central Coast Conservatorium to create the Opera story themselves. The story idea was given to the group of Vocal Department students and they first created the Opera Libretto. The selected Libretto was that of Vocal student Ella Roberts. The music was composed by Conservatorium composer and teacher Phillip Rutherford, directed by local well known TV and Theatre actress Samara Cannan and performed by local talent in the Robert Knox Hall under the musical direction of conductor Christopher Bearman with the students from the Chamber Ensemble. Two of three performances were sold out, receiving standing ovations from audience and Ray Allen who continues to offer his invaluable support to the present day.2013 'Help, Help The Globolinks!' by Menotti
In 2013 the Children's Opera by Menotti 'Help, Help The Globolinks!' was taken by new Central Coast Conservatorium Artistic Director Patrick Brennan on more higher level in Laycock Street Theatre. Produced by Lilija Sile, derected by Tim Page, conducted by John Nottle and having real children’s Ballet and choreography by Internationally acclaimed Bronwyn Russel this Opera was another success and opened further great opportunities to engage the Central Coast Community and help to embrace Opera as a style on the Central Coast. Again this opera achieved the Central Coast Opera’s primary goal of providing opportunities to identify and develop more local young and natural talents!!
2016 'The Magic Flute' by W.A. Mozart
In 2016 Central Coast Opera produced the well known and loved Opera 'Magic Flute' by W.A.Mozart! This opera took the audience on a magical journey with many unexpected surprises. The production involved many talented vocalists from the Central Coast and Hunter regions and brought together singers of all age groups.
2017 'Carmen' by G. Bizet
In 2017 the team is working on a production of Bizet's Carmen to be hosted at Laycock Street Community Theatre. Once again, singers from the Central Coast and Hunger regions have come together to produce an exciting opera for audiences featuring many talented singers, musicians and dancers.
History of Conservatorium
We seek to inspire our Central Coast community to engage in and value music as an integral part of life through comprehensive music education and artistic endeavour.