The launch of Freeze Frame Opera on Thursday night was everything they promised it would be: affordable, accessible, appealing and #noboringbits!!!  Opera at the Movies was my first review for Australian Book Review. You can read an excerpt below and for the full review go to the ABR Arts Update.
Harriet O’Shannessy, founder of Freeze Frame Opera. Photo Eva Fernandez
Opera is dead, the scare-mongers have been warning us for years. Yet Perth is witnessing an operatic renaissance with the launch this week of the third new company in six years. The emergence of the organic, grassroots organisations is all the more miraculous given the devastation inflicted on the small to medium arts sector by government funding cuts in May. 

The new opera companies are distinctive for their flexibility, open-mindedness and their ability – despite Perth’s post-boom economic downturn – to attract a diverse and enthusiastic audience. How has it happened? Is it the quality of the singers, the compact well-networked art scene, a nose for where to find money or the WA entrepreneurial spirit?

At the Movies set. Photo Rosalind Appleby

The launch of Freeze Frame Opera involved all of the above. ‘Opera at the Movies’ opened on November 17th and was sold out across four nights. Audience members collected their free popcorn on arrival at Pakenham Street Art Space (a converted Fremantle warehouse). Children on beanbags formed the front row around a stage built from a kombi-van, a staircase and an upright piano. The van was obviously chosen for the first number on the program, the infamous scene from Priscilla Queen of the Desert featuring Verdi’s “Sempre libera… Follie!” belted from the top of a bus. The drag queen was enacted by performance artist Lady Diamond (Simon Morrison-Baldwin) in silver spandex, the aria was sung by soprano Emma Pearson and excerpts from the film were projected on a screen. Lady Diamond then took on the role of narrator and the evening continued with various movies providing a launch pad for different operatic numbers…

Soprano Emma Pearson and her amazing wig!