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Soprano returns to roots

Soprano Georgia Jamieson Emms, and her mother Marguerite Tait-Jamieson. PHOTO/SUPPLIED



The producer of an opera making its debut at the Kokomai Creative Festival will find things all too familiar when she takes the stage at St Matthew’s Collegiate School this week.

Soprano Georgia Jamieson Emms, was formerly a St Matthew’s student, graduating with the class of 2000.

She went on to study music at Victoria University, and then lived and worked as an opera singer in Germany.

Now, she is making her way back to her roots to produce and perform in the musical comedy The Other Marriage of Figaro.

The Mozart opera, in its new English adaptation, follows the story of smart alec barber-turned-valet, Figaro, and his sassy fiancee, Susanna.

A rehearsal action shot: Begging Count Almaviva (Craig Beardsworth) to forgive his wife for her indiscreet behaviour. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A rehearsal action shot: Begging Count Almaviva (Craig Beardsworth) to forgive his wife for her indiscreet behaviour. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

It will feature a cast of past and present singers from New Zealand Opera and a special appearance from the award-winning St. Matthew’s Junior Choir, directed by Emms’ mother Marguerite Tait-Jamieson.

“Ordinarily you would have a chorus in an opera, but because we are a small opera company, we thought, right, every town we go to, we’ll get a chorus from the local people,” Emms said.

“It just made absolute sense that we would do that.”
Emms approached the school a few months ago and asked if the girls would want to be in the opera, and, of course, they did.

The students have since been busy rehearsing the music during regular choir practices, but will only get one rehearsal with the cast before the actual show.

“It’s really exciting, probably a little bit terrifying, but it is so much fun and I think they will have an absolute ball.”

Emms said the opera was aimed at people who “aren’t too sure about opera”.

“There is a lot of elitist attitudes about opera, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all,” she said.

“This is our second venture into a Mozart opera and the whole idea is that we try to keep it really fun, light, quirky, modern, we sing in English.

“We try to keep the running time a bit shorter – the average opera is three hours, we try to run it in at two hours with an interval.

Emms said it was an “amazing and awesome connection” to be back in her own school debuting the opera.

“I was in that choir 20 years ago, so this connection is really awesome.

“That particular auditorium in 2000 we did our school production of Westside Story and I did the lead role. “There are a lot of really nice connections for me personally.”

As well as producing the show, Emms has taken on a supporting role as the Countess.

The opera will be performed on Friday October 20 at 7.30pm and Sunday October 22 at 2.30pm.

For more information, visit kokomai.co.nz.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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