Project Puccini was a world-first initiative by OperaQ giving 384 Queenslanders across 8 regional locations the opportunity to perform alongside internationally renowned artists in a brand new touring production of Puccini’s La bohème.
Partnering with local councils and venues, the project inspired state-wide community engagement and more than doubled audience reach on OperaQ’s previous regional tour.
Following launch of the project in February, nearly 800 auditions were held to select 36 adults and 12 children to represent each local community. Chorus members then underwent an intensive 10-week rehearsal period led by a Local Chorus Master and Rehearsal Coordinator learning stagecraft, acting, singing and Italian! Assistant Director Jason Barry-Smith travelled across Queensland to ensure that each chorus was on track for its debut in a professional opera. Project Puccini provided Queenslanders with the opportunity to improve their creative skills, weave social networks, strengthen ties within communities and forge partnerships across regional and metropolitan areas.
Perhaps one of the most profound aspects of Project Puccini was its capacity to engage people from all walks of life.
“There were choristers aged 7 to 86 from all kinds of backgrounds, and in some cases whole families, committed almost three months of their lives to learn their roles in La bohème; people drove 400km round trips to attend every rehearsal; people rehearsed in hi-vis clothing because they’d just walked out of a mine; 384 people committed themselves to something that for most of them was out of their comfort zone…and they didn’t give up when the going got tough.”
Assistant Director, Jason Barry-Smith
Griffith University supported Project Puccini by facilitating a study to examine the overall impact of the project on participating communities, as well as the effect on individual well-being, level of connection with the arts and influence on self-confidence, social cohesion and connection.
“…I’ve lost count of how many people have told me that this project has renewed their love of music, has been the best experience of their lives, has given them new confidence, that they cried their eyes out, that they had no idea opera could be so moving, what singing with their community has meant to them, that they’ve learned so much, how they loved acting in their costumes, the discipline of singing in Italian and with QSO, in a professional production with “real” singers”.
Lindy Hume, Artistic Director – OperaQ