Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the company has decided to go out in style with Gaetano Donizetti’s classic, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’.
Showing at His Majesty’s Theatre on four dates from October 26 to November 4, the opera follows the iconic story of two noble Scottish families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods, who are sworn enemies.
Accompanied by the West Australian Opera Chorus and West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the performance features a new generation of Australian singers, led by Emma Pearson in the title role, alongside crowd favourite Aldo Di Toro.
Since graduating from the West Australian Conservatorium of Music and winning two awards from the Opera Foundation Australia for further study in Italy and Austria, Mr Di Toro has become an internationally revered tenor, performing in all corners of the globe.
Returning to Australia for ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’, Mr Di Toro will take on the role of Lucia’s ill-fated lover and the single heir to the Ravenswood legacy, Edgardo.
“Edgardo is impulsive, almost a rogue, having lived in his father’s shadow all his life,” Mr Di Toro said of his character.
“When his father dies of shame and failure, Edgardo develops the need to regain his heritage and wealth and leaves Scotland for France for political reasons. To be able to build a life together with Lucia.”
To prepare for each performance of Edgardo, Mr Di Toro ensures he warms up properly and gets into the right headspace for the role.
“No sooner does Edgardo enter the stage, than he’s already passionate and excited, in all the wrong ways,” the talented tenor explained.
“Many of his phrases are curses, exclamations and outbursts. Despite Lucia trying to calm him, he’s not a very good listener.”
Once he has completed his vocal exercises and done some stretches, Mr Di Toro reflects on where his character has come from emotionally, and where he is headed, before conveying this with not only his voice, but also his breath.
Though raised as a “true-blue” Aussie in the Perth suburbs, Mr Di Toro now lives in his nonna’s farmhouse in Abruzzo and performs the major Italian operas in prestigious European theatres.
Unsurprisingly, the tenor believes that his Italian background has become his “foreground”.
Mr Di Toro’s passion for music dates back to his childhood, filled with memories of singing and dancing at family gatherings.
“At weddings, my uncles used to sing competitively at the top of their voices and my aunties would dance the tarantella together to the magical sound of a piano accordion,” he recalled.
Mr Di Toro’s upbringing struck the perfect balance between two cultures: family was everything and when it came to food, Aussie “barbies” were combined with a spread of traditional Italian fare.
“It was an amazing, unique and perhaps unrepeatable childhood,” he said.
“We kids had strict rules to abide by, but within those rules, we were free to do as we pleased...and boy did we have a good time!”
Mr Di Toro is thrilled to be returning to Perth to perform in front of a home crowd.
“The warmth received on and off stage is incredible,” he said.
“In a way, it’s like a celebration, as many people have watched you from day one. If the show goes well in front of a home crowd, it’s like a personal triumph.”
The compelling tenor hopes that his audience walks away from the opera with a greater appreciation for Donizetti’s “particular kind of magic” and an understanding of the deeper message:
“There’s no place for bullying in our world.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Mr Di Toro will make his debut in ‘Tosca’ in Germany and ‘Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci’ before Austrian crowds...playing all Italian characters, of course.
Mr Di Toro will partake in an exclusive meet and greet before the closing night performance, as part of a pre-show cocktail party organised by the Consulate of Italy and West Australian Opera. For more information, visit West Australian Opera's website.