An Opera at Jimbour with Hayley Sugars by Gabi Bergman
Mezzo-soprano Hayley Sugars has had a whirlwind career.
She started her training at the University of Southern Queensland and completed postgraduate study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, receiving many academic and performance awards along the way, including the Elizabeth Muir Postgraduate Scholarship (QCM) and the Joyce Campbell Lloyd Overseas Scholarship (USQ).
A highlight in Hayley’s operatic career was performing in national opera competitions, and winning the German-Australian Opera Grant in 2010. This win resulted in contracts with prestigious German companies such as the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden and the Landestheater Coburg.
She has performed numerous roles both in Germany and in Australia, and will be showcasing her stunning singing skills as part of the Opera at Jimbour line-up in July.
What was the biggest difference between performing in Australia and in Germany?
Rehearsing in German! There are so many things to consider when preparing and performing a role. Adding a new language into the mix had my brain running on overdrive.
Also, it was a special privilege to experience being a ‘full-time’ opera singer. In Germany, each theatre has a core Ensemble of singers (as well as an orchestra, chorus, dancers, actors, etc). This was a luxury that simply isn’t available in Australia.
When you aren’t singing, what do you like to spend your free time doing?
Spending time with my two little boys.
How do you feel the Opera Queensland Young Development Program shaped you as an opera singer?
The program was an invaluable introduction to the professional world of opera. It was exciting having access to many professionals in the field and receiving further quality coaching in singing, languages and acting - training that a young singer otherwise couldn’t afford. There were many performances which provided opportunities for putting what I had learned into action. Also, I believe having this experience listed on my CV helped me secure further employment.
What is one important piece of advice you were given about Opera that’s stuck with you?
There are no small roles, only small players.
Is there a role or show you have performed that sticks out as a favourite?
I always find this question difficult as it tends to be whatever I am working on at the time but I do enjoy performing characters with a different personality to my own.
What about one that was the most challenging?
No particular role stands out but I do remember making my debut in three large roles over only a couple of months, two with virtually no stage rehearsal. The roles were Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Rinaldo (Rinaldo) and Mrs Grose (The Turn of the Screw). That was a frightening, but also exhilarating, time!
Is there a role or show you would love to do in the future?
I would love to have the opportunity to perform more baroque opera (e.g Ruggiero from Alcina) and I also like the idea of singing an Octavian from Der Rosenkavalier.
What advice would you give to aspiring Opera singers?
Work hard. Be open minded to advice and critique. Have a healthy level of self confidence. Be a positive and kind colleague.
What can fans expect from Opera At Jimbour? Why should they buy a ticket?
I think this year, Opera at Jimbour will be particularly exciting for all involved. The programme will include a lot of what are considered the ‘best bits’ of opera. There will be an orchestra, a great chorus, good food, good wine, fabulous atmosphere - something for everyone! Come along and have a great day out at this beautiful venue.
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