Heaven scent: Rising star adorns Southern Cross Soloists’ concert

Southern Cross Soloists’ upcoming Perfumes of the East concert offers the chance to hear Australia’s most exciting rising opera star in action

May 23, 2024, updated May 23, 2024
Southern Cross Soloists' next concert is a chance to see Nina Korbe, a rising star of the opera world.

Southern Cross Soloists' next concert is a chance to see Nina Korbe, a rising star of the opera world.

It was the wrong musical to be singing in the rain but Brisbane soprano Nina Korbe didn’t mind at all. She was making her professional debut as Maria in West Side Story in Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour recently when the weather turned inclement one night – but she didn’t care.

“It was incredible,” says Korbe, who’s back in Brisbane preparing for her star turn in Southern Cross Soloists’ second concert for the year, Perfumes of the East.

SXS artistic director Tania Frazer says the concert will “invite audiences to journey into the exotic with a sensory odyssey inspired by the Mediterranean’s enchanting shores”.

“Konstantin Shamray features in Saint-Saens’ sparkling and majestic Piano Concerto No. 5, famously dubbed The Egyptian, evoking the grandeur of Luxor’s ancient temple,” Frazer explains.

“We explore works by Vivaldi, Kovacs, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov and Saint-Saens. Nina Korbe presents an alluring selection of songs that capture the vibrant spices and rich aromas of Mediterranean cultures, along with a new composition by the esteemed vocal composer Stephen Leek for the SXS Didgeridoo Commissioning Project.

“The concert also features Southern Cross Soloists’ Ashley Smith on clarinet in two Spanish-inspired pieces and James Wannan’s viola in a concerto by Vivaldi for the rarely heard Viola d’amore, known as the viola of love.”

Didgeridoo master Chris Williams will also play.

Programming Nina Korbe some time ago was visionary considering her star has been on the rise for the past couple of years. The First Nations soprano is an accomplished young performer who is quickly establishing herself as a rising talent in the opera world. She has been praised for her creamy tone, brilliant top notes and sensitive performances, which continue to delight audiences.

Korbe began performing with Opera Queensland and has amassed credits for their productions of La Bohème, Die Fledermaus, Il Barbiere de Siviglia, Peter Grimes and Verdi’s Requiem.

She received her Bachelor of Music Performance with Distinction from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and is a graduate of the Master of Arts Programme from the Royal Academy of Music in London.

This year Korbe continues as artist-in-residence with Queensland Youth Orchestras, with whom she toured in Europe and Asia last year. She is also a Melba Opera Trust Scholar.

Korbe is passionate about the representation of Indigenous artists in the creative industries and as a proud Koa, Kuku Yalanji, Wakka Wakka woman is actively involved in the championing of Indigenous voices.

She’s on the board for Queensland Youth Orchestra’s reconciliation action plan as a First Nations representative, while also working with QSO on their First Nations advisory board.

At just 25 Korbe has it all. Making her professional debut in the role of Maria in West Side Story with Opera Australia got her a lot of attention. She’s just back home in Brisbane after performing at Opera Queensland’s Festival of Outback Opera.

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“I really can’t complain,” says Korbe, with a certain amount of understatement. “This year has been incredible. In Sydney I had the best time performing on the harbour watching the sun set over the Sydney Opera House.

“We had torrential rain for one performance but it was quite romantic performing in the rain. Yes, we were singin’ in the rain but we had special weather contingency shoes and everything was fine.”

Except the weather. But that was just one night in a stellar season that catapulted her into the national and international spotlight.

For Perfumes of the East, Korbe will be singing works by Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov, the Russian composer. The Russian work is called The Nightingale and the Rose.

“It’s my first time singing in Russian,” says Korbe, who’s loved working with SXS on several occasions. So how is she dealing with her new-found fame?

“It’s all very flattering and a little overwhelming,” she says. But she’ll take it.

Southern Cross Soloists and QPAC present Perfumes of the East, June 2, 3pm, Concert Hall, QPAC

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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