Conal Coad returns home to reprise the role of Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love, a role he played when Opera Australia first created this production! We talk to Conal about the role and his jet set life!
We’re looking forward to seeing you back on New Zealand stages for The Elixir of Love in a very different role and very different opera than last time you were here. Could there be operas and roles more different than Dikój in Kátya Kabanová and Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love? You’re sometimes cast as a villain and sometimes a buffoon – what do you enjoy about the different types of roles?
When I think of roles that I have sung with NZ Opera - among them, Leporello, Ferrando, Don Magnifico, Inigo, Raimondo, Don Pasquale, Kecal and most recently - Dikoj - with Dulcamara to come, they seem to be fairly evenly divided between 'nasty' and 'nice'. I particularly enjoy the 'acting' - almost as much as the singing - so variety in a role, gives me the opportunity to explore characterization and tie it into the music. It's one of the main joys in singing opera.
What have you been up to since we last saw you?
Singing and teaching in Tokyo, opening an art exhibition in Sydney, rehearsing future work for Opera Australia ....and slothfully enjoying the Australian summer lying on the beach!
You’re the only member of the cast to have previously appeared in this Australian production – what drew you back to revisit this role and production?
The Elixir of Love is the other of Donizetti's two great opera comedies [next to Don Pasquale], famous throughout the operatic world. This is certainly one of Opera Australia's most loved comic productions. Simon Phillips (one of NZ's greatest opera directors) first presented this memorable operatic comedy in 2002 in which I had the privilege of singing Dulcamara. Frequently revived in Sydney and Melbourne, I am always delighted to launch myself into the role of this engagingly slimy character yet again. Although this is a role I have performed many times in Europe, it is to this wonderful production that I am most engaged.
Elixir has a very small cast and the rest of the principals are just starting to make their mark on the opera world. What do you enjoy about working with talented young singers?
One of the delights of opera generally, is to discover new talents and voices. I heard Sol3 Mio in Sydney and was blown away with Pene's voice and personality, so am especially looking forward to sharing the stage with him - as well as Amina, Morgan and Natasha. Young voices have a fresh quality that is a joy to experience. I can't wait to get started.
You were born and raised in New Zealand, but most of your life and career has been in Australia and Europe. What do you enjoy about visiting Auckland and Wellington?
A huge number of things. My family live here, so the opportunity to catch up with my sister and my brother in law as well as my nephews, plus their wives and their eight children... plus the next generation just beginning, is high on the list. My many friends in both Auckland and Wellington. Joining New Zealand Opera in a new production is a total pleasure, it's a very talented Company whose standards are excellent. They are also like a family who make every visiting artist feel 'at home'... and of course, for me - it is home!
Rehearsals begin shortly, with the production opening at Auckland's ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre on 31 May, before a Wellington season at the Opera House from 23 June. Find out more about The Elixir of Love.