State Opera South Australia is about to embark on a tour of The Frog Prince, hopping around schools in metropolitan and rural South Australia as part of our Schools Program.
Originally produced by Opera Queensland and shake & stir theatre co, The Frog Prince is a modern retelling of the classic Grimm tale, where a spoiled princess encounters a sassy frog and an unlikely friendship blooms. They embark on a fantastical and uplifting journey whilst learning lessons about friendship, personal identity, and the importance of looking after the environment.
At State Opera we are aiming to ignite a passion for performance and opera from a young age by introducing young children to one of the world’s oldest artforms.
The Frog Prince also gives some of State Opera’s young performers, Callum McGing, Lucy Stoddart and James Nicholson, their first principal roles with the company, creating opportunities for them to grow their careers and reach new heights.
We chatted with the trio about their love of opera and what performing in and touring The Frog Prince means to them.
James: I can’t believe we are about to start our tour of The Frog Prince! I grew up in rural Australia and I didn’t have the opportunity to see opera as a child, and wish I had. That’s why I’m so excited to bring opera to schools in South Australia. I feel honoured to be giving the next generation of young Australians the opportunity to experience this amazing art form.
Callum: There’s something really special about that first opera experience. I remember mine, I saw Co-Opera’s Eugene Onegin. It took me until the end of the show to realise there were surtitles, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!
Lucy: I didn’t see my first opera until 2017 when I was in my first year at the Elder Conservatorium. It was State Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus by Strauss, it was so delicious! My first experience of opera though was throughout my childhood thanks to my mum who was always playing recordings. I grew up in a household of musicians and was pretty much bought up on classical music, there was always something playing in our home.
James: I remember seeing Moby Dick, and it was incredible to hear the powerful voices filling the auditorium. Music and performing have always been my passion. I can’t imagine not being on stage, so it was natural for me to choose a career in opera.
Lucy: I had always loved the thought of being a professional opera singer but never considered it could be a proper career option until my Honours year of study. I was lucky enough to play the lead role of Rose Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and I loved throwing myself entirely into the role. I remember finishing that season and thinking to myself “maybe I could give it a crack”.
Callum: I decided opera was going to be my career after my internship at State Opera through university. I was in the chorus for a performance of Don Pasquale, and I loved every second of it. I’m really excited to bring people that first taste of opera, both children and adults.
Lucy: I am most excited for the opportunity to bring opera to children who have never heard it before. It’s truly a wonderful thing to sing a high note and have children go absolutely wild for it! I really hope to ignite a spark inside a child who might one day go on to have a career in opera, who knows!
Callum: The first time I saw an opera it felt magical, and I’ve learnt and developed so much with State Opera. One day I’d love to play Rodolfo in La bohème or Rinuccio in Gianna Schicchi. I adore the big arias in the Italian repertoire, and I hope I’m not too far off from achieving these roles.
James: My dream roles would be iconic characters like Romeo in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and Alfredo in Verdi’s beloved opera La traviata.
Lucy: There’s nothing like the classics! I’d love to sing Violetta (La traviata), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Mimi (La bohème) or Pamina (The Magic Flute) but I’d also love to have a look into more obscure roles and repertoire that isn’t so widely performed. There’s so much choice.
James: There is, and there is so much to do in opera and theatre as well, it’s not just singing. Did you know that I have a degree in costume and set design for theatre and film? I love bringing visual elements to life and being part of the creative process.
Callum: I didn’t know that! Did you know that I speak Mandarin? I was on the path to become a translator up until recently. Now I work at a software company, which is a bit different to singing opera on stage! I like to stay immersed in theatre as much as I can though, living in Adelaide is so great for that and I’m always going to see shows, especially smaller ones which are playing in venues which are a bit off the beaten track.
Lucy: I also love to attend as much live theatre as possible! There’s nothing like the magic of live performance, I feel very lucky to have it as my career!! When I’m not practicing or singing, I’m usually in my teaching studio, heading for a long walk with my dog or shopping (I love a bargain!).
James: I find joy in making homemade pasta and indulging in my love for cheese. There’s something therapeutic about preparing pasta from scratch and exploring different types of cheese is always a delightful adventure for me. Maybe that’s why I’m playing a rat in The Frog Prince!
Callum: We get to sing a beautiful duet together in The Frog Prince, with you as a rat and me as a frog! We are going to have so much fun on the tour and I am so looking forward to bringing the world of opera to schools and students across SA!
The Frog Prince tour begins from Term 4 2023, find out more or register your interest.