March 2006

Duncan looking to dream role


By JANET WILSON


Rachael Duncan as Gilda in Rigoletto. [Photo: Kristina Schade]

Swept up in a busy performance schedule at Schwerin, Rachael Duncan has hardly had time to enjoy the realisation of a dream - to sing the role of Violetta which is this year's production for the summer Castle Festival.

"I'm thrilled to be singing Violetta, one of the roles I have always wanted to sing!" she enthuses.

The popular Castle Festival performances have now been running for 12 years, first in the castle courtyard and for the past eight years in the open area between the theatre and the castle with seating for 2500. This spectacular setting has only one drawback: the sometimes temperamental weather of northern Germany.

Duncan was busy over the Christmas/New Year period with the final performances, after a three year run, as Romilda in Xerxes and the roles of Musetta, Blonde and the Queen of the Night. There were also three performances of Beethoven's Ninth, a popular company tradition for the past 25 years, and, to celebrate Mozart's 250th anniversary, two performances of the Creed Mass and two of his concert arias.

Rachael Duncan as the Queen of Night in Die Zauberflöte. [Photo: Kristina Schade]

The Friends of the Mecklenburg State Theatre last year awarded the coveted Conrad-Ekhof prize to Duncan. In the Laudatio, head dramaturg, Jens Ponath says: "The theatre loves travellers. It loves vagabonds and the world travellers, the restless and those hungry for experience - the theatre itself has the characteristics of a journey and is inclined to broaden its view by looking to foreign worlds - Rachael Duncan is a traveller par excellence."

He goes on to mention her voice which "displays a bright and pleasingly radiant tone," the amazing clarity of her diction and her wide repertoire - "from pure soubrette roles into the lyric and dramatic coloratura parts." Finally he mentions her friendliness and ability to work in harmony with her colleagues.

It seems fitting then, that Duncan should achieve a long held ambition. As well as Violetta she will sing Nanetta in Falstaff, in Handel's Samson in the next season and Donna Anna in April 2007.

Now on a year to year contract in Schwerin she feels that she is singing dream repertoire and that the music director has her best interests at heart. Although she would love to come back to Australia to sing, she plans to stay at Schwerin for the foreseeable future with just occasional fleeting visits home, the next in August after Traviata during the summer season break.

"I think that every expat Aussie singer dreams of singing at the Sydney Opera House," she says, "and I would particularly love to sing again for Opera Queensland which is where I began my career but I don't see Australia as a permanent career move at the moment as there are more opportunities in Europe. But who knows? I never say never."




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