Perth-raised Taryn Fiebig is one of Austrlia’s finest opera singers – but even she admits she once thought opera was quite “ridiculous.”
“I still do at times!” Taryn, now principal soprano with Opera Australia, tells The Starfish.
But these days, of course, opera is her passion. Originally a cellist, Taryn made the switch 15 years ago – and hasn’t looked back.
Taryn will be back in Perth to perform some her favourite works for a special concert on August 19 at Churchlands High, From School To Opera Australia, giving back to the school that taught her so much about music.
“My years at Churchlands were some of the best of my life!” she sighs.
“It was a bit like Glee, we were singing, dancing, performing the whole time. I had such wonderful teachers: Prue Ashurst, Gill Croston, David Westbrook, and Gregory Baron. Leaving school to go to uni, where it was much more about theory and so forth, came as a big shock!”
Taryn’s switch to opera came after a friend, encouraged her to audition for a new opera school in Perth. “I didn’t show up, I didn’t think I was good enough!” she reveals. “But then my friend then called and said ‘get your arse out here!’ so I did, and was accepted on the spot!”
Familiarizing herself with the world of opera, and all the many works by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and co “ was a steep learning curve, and a lot of hard work, but I have to say it’s been wonderful!” she says.
Twelve years ago, Taryn joined Opera Australia, and since then her singing has taken her around the world. “Sometimes I’ll sing while playing the cello too, which is what I’ll be doing at Churchlands,” she says.
A highlight was performing at Buckingham Palace early last year. “I hadn’t wanted to bring my cello over as there was a risk it could be damaged, so they said to me, ‘we’ll get you one.’” To her astonishment, the instrument belonged to Prince Charles.
“As I sat playing Dvorak’s Song To The Moon, I could see he had tears in his eyes!” she reminisces.
But speaking to Taryn, it’s clear that this upcoming concert at her old school, means as much as any other performance on the world stage.
“I’m really excited about the night because a lot of my former classmates are coming along, parents and friends.”
Taryn, the cousin of actress Melissa George (“sadly she won’t be there, she’s currently filming something in Queensland”) will be performing many of her favourite pieces, and also chatting a little to the audience about her musical forays over the years. “It will be like dipping into a fine box of chocolates,” she promises.
She’ll be accompanied by renowned Perth concert pianist, Mark Coughlan, chair of the Government House Foundation music series. Mark will be playing on a Fazoli grand piano, one of only three in WA, now owned by the school.
“I can’t wait to hear Mark perform on this, they’re such beautifully made, wonderful instruments,” Taryn enthuses.
Sydney-based, she’ll be in Perth during the week leading up to her concert, visiting Churchlands to meet some of the current students.
“I’m hoping some will also be joining me on stage during the concert too.”
Her advice to youngsters contemplating a musical career: “Practise, practise, practise!” she laughs. “I never stop! It’s hard work, but music is my life, and the wonderful connections you make in the music world never leave you.”
The From School To Opera Australia concert will be held in the school’s magnificent 500 seat Concert Hall, opened in 2012 on the school’s 50th anniversary.
Tickets to see Taryn Fiebig perform at the Churchlands Senior High School Concert Hall (located at 20 Lucca Street, Churchlands) will sell quickly.
Bookings can be made online at www.trybooking.com/189819 or by calling 08 9441 0442.
Ticket prices, which include light refreshments, are: Premium $49, Standard $39, Concession $29 and Students $14.