John O'Brien
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John wanted to be an opera singer, 1st appearing on Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre stage at 13! Had a break to be a school teacher, academic and union activist satisfying a need to perform, but returned to singing. Retirement is filled with writing a National Tertiary Education Union history, listening to as much music as he can and performing when the opportunity arises.

Con Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte: A fly in and fly out experience

The production and the talents of the singers and the instrumentalists, all in all a well calculated and performed ‘hoot’!

Omega Ensemble’s Beethoven Seventh Symphony

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is immensely enduring and, as such, very popular. This was my first encounter with the group. It won’t be my last!

Con Opera’s The Fairy Queen showcased a wide range of skills and an enjoyable production

A wide range of performance skills needed by opera singers demonstrated. The production ensured that the greatness of Purcell’s music was realised in full measure.

The Marais Project: Marais and the operatic muse

Alexander Knight ranging from a rich dark chocolate lower register to an affecting upper range. He doesn’t just sing the notes, he performs the work.

Israel in Annandale

Alexander Knight is a seriously good bass baritone. If any young singer has that elusive ‘it’, it is him. Michelle Leonard held large & diverse forces together in her characteristically forthright manner.

From Late Medieval Plain Chanting to Contemporary Estonian Jailhouse Rock!

The Cell Block Theatre is near perfect form showing off this group’s considerable capacities. The sopranos produced some stunning sounds and whole group produced power without unnecessary force.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd is about obsession. Todd is obsessed with revenge. Mrs Lovett is obsessed with respectability and Judge Turpin is obsessed with his ward Joanna. They will all do what ever it takes! Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Miller’s realisation of…

Bel a Cappella’s Puer natus est and their heart firmly placed on their sleeve

The ensemble will be well prepared, the program will be well constructed and Musical Director Anthony Pasquill will have his heart firmly placed on his sleave.

Lyle Chan: Speaking for himself through Music

It is rare to hear from a live composer & less common to hear his story through his own words & his music performed by Acacia Quartet to provide an evening of remembrance & music

Love and Lamentation: A Farewell Concert, Sophia Mitchell

A farewell concert can be both a joyous and sad occasion. On Saturday 24 May there was a lot of joy, much love and a suitable modicum of lamentation in the room prior to the departure of mezzo soprano, Sophia…

A time travelling ‘Girl Band’: testing the limits and walking the cat (gut) walk!

New Fashions Josie and the Emeralds with Lyra viol specialist, Sarah Mead (USA) Glebe Town Hall, 29 March 2014 For even the most enthusiastic of music lovers being confronted by five viol players (playing among them a variety of instruments…

The Renaissance Players – A Refreshed Continuity

British Birds and Beasts and Bards, The Great Hall, the University of Sydney 25 and 26 March 2014 The Renaissance Players is one of the venerable musical institutions in Sydney. There have probably been hundreds of performers passing through its…

Ensemble Vinifera: And the ship sailed on…

Ensemble Vinifera – Independent Theatre, Sunday 16 February 2014 And the ship sailed on… What does an ensemble do when a key player calls in sick on the morning of an afternoon concert? Answer: near desperate phone calls and plaintive…

When I grow up I want to be a Valkyrie: Impressions of the Melbourne Ring Cycle

Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner Conductor: Peitari Inkenen Director: Neil Armfield Opera Australia, Arts Centre Melbourne, November 2013 The Music If Wagner had been born a century later he may have been a great film composer.…

High Fives for the Metropolitan Orchestra

Firm direction of Sarah-Grace Williams, some really strong section leaders & edge of seat enthusiasm of the players meant it was a celebration of the ambition of The Metropolitan Orchestra. Long may it play!

The Watters Gallery Recitals Series: Variety and virtuosity

This was the third and final of the series for 2013. The first had the theme of modernism. Alan Holley, the curator and one of the featured composers said there no theme in the third recital but I detected both…

Solos series launched at Watters Gallery with virtuosity

Contemporary music can be challenge for many, for others it a declaration that music is for now and not just to be preserved an aural museum. Sometimes presenters of contemporary recitals make it more difficult by being entirely uncompromising in…

A Baltic Musical Cruise with Bel a cappella

There is something special about an a capella group that sings religiously-inspired music in a church with a generous acoustic, without too much reverberation. Thus it was at the Paddington Uniting Church on Friday 9 August. This group of experienced…

Sydney Chamber Opera: Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingate

For any lover of Britten (and good theatre) this production is not to be missed. It is on until 10 August. Well worth a visit or indeed a revisit!

Ondine Productions: Hymn to the Sun – The scent of rhythm

Philip Glass’s music is often misunderstood as repetitive. Superficially it is, but it shifts forward almost continuously. Maintaining its rhythmic progress is a challenge for instrumentalists and singers alike. Glass’ Akhenaten is of one of his three ‘portrait’ operas featuring…