Coonabarabran’s own Pavarotti, Jack Ayoub, amassed a cult following during his recent performance in Opera New England’s production of La Traviata, with a large number of local people travelling to Armidale for the event.
“You always heard them! You can always hear Coonabarabran people,” Jack said.
“I was very lucky. Every night I’d step out to the front of the stage and give my little bow and I would hear Coonabarabran. You’d give them a little gesture and they’d roar again.
“It was so lovely to have them there. It warms your heart.”
Opera New England provides singers who are on the verge of a professional career, the opportunity to rehearse and perform a fully staged opera over four public performances.
Held at The Armidale School (TAS) from 21- 24 January, the sold-out production of Giseppe Verdi’s La Traviata was directed by George Torbay.
Up against performers from across Australia and overseas, Jack’s video audition landed him one of the principal roles, as Giuseppe.
He then set about learning more than 500 pages of music in the lead up to the event.
“They send out the score a couple of months before and, as in any opera company, you’re expected to turn up on the first day of rehearsals and know everything.
“I don’t even know how we do it!
“You spend so much time working on it, you become the best of friends with the opera, you know it intimately and often lose sleep over it too.”
Jack was also a part of Opera New England’s 2015 production of Carmen.
“It’s remarkable because they have professional people come in and do this,” Jack said.
“The team is just made up of ordinary people - Bruce Mendes, the conductor, is a local doctor and he takes his leave and comes and does the opera for a few weeks, and the business manager of TAS also happens to be an engineer, so he builds all the sets in his spare time.
“It’s such an organic thing. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.”
While Jack has commenced his third year at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music this week, he also has his eyes set on securing a position at a summer school opera tour of Italy.
He said the support he received from his home town was what kept him motivated.
“You know, there are times during the rehearsal process, where you feel you’ve had enough - they’re huge days, 10.00am to 1.00am in the morning.
“But, when I get back stage, take off all my make up and come out into the foyer and there’s all these people there to see me, it gives me the energy to keep going and keep driving forward.
“I’m doing it because these people enjoy it!”
Jack Ayoub on stage as part of Opera New England’s production of La Traviata. Photo courtesy Terry Cooke.