Australian soprano, Eleanor Lyons, who plays Freia in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, said she’s keeping the current situation in mind when performing in the upcoming opera in concert, conducted by Simone Young. In the opera, Freia gets kidnapped, so it’s very much hitting close to home for the Jewish opera singer.
“My character represents love and life, and all these fragile things that need to be protected, and she gets taken away,” Lyons told The AJN ahead of her first rehearsal. “It really makes me empathise; it’s on the forefront of my heart.”
Many in the community would likely know Lyon from many of her performances, and her involvement with Live at Yours, which has expanded to Live at the Great and Live at Toorak Shule. Most recently, Lyons performed alongside Simon Tedeschi in A Concert for Israel, raising money for Magen David Adom.
Lyons said she’s very excited to be performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for her Wagner debut, and particularly honoured to be conducted by Young.
“Wagner is a whole world unto itself. It’s very exciting to begin the journey into that world, and it’s wonderful to be doing that with Simone, because for her it’s like a fish in water. She’s really passionate about it and she’s really fantastic at it. And she knows it inside out,” she said. “I’m very lucky to have my first Wagner experience with such an experienced and passionate person.”
Das Rheingold is the first in the four-part opera cycle, Ring Cycle, which is described as “epic, through and through”. According to Lyons, it sets the tone for the whole story and is perfect for those just tipping their toes into the Wagner world.
“It’s shorter, and meant to be performed without an interlude,” she explained.
Lyons also explained that quite a number of the cast have come from overseas, including Israeli Noa Beinart, so it’s really a labour of international love.
Ahead of her first rehearsal, Lyons explained that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Das Rheingold is a staged version, meaning there are no costumes and no scenery.
“I actually think it’s even more amazing because it really focuses people’s attention on the music. And when you bring that high level of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra into opera, it’s always exciting. As opera singers, we’re not doing anything particularly interesting on stage,” she laughed. “It really is about the music.”
One of the things that excites Lyons the most is also being back at the Sydney Opera House.
“I’ve travelled around the world and I’ve performed in a lot of beautiful places and great halls, but there’s something really special about the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Symphony, because I grew up here, and I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that I would be performing in the Opera House again,” she said. “It’s just such a humbling experience.”
Dan Rheingold is at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House on Thursday November 16 and Saturday November 18. Book tickets.