Don Giovanni — Performers' biographies

Colin Forbes, Director and repetiteur

On graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Colin Forbes became Lecturer in Piano at the Conservatorium as well as pianist and percussionist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He later joined the Australian Opera as a repetiteur and has also worked with other leading concert organisations including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Synergy and the Australia Ensemble.

A study tour of Germany took Colin to the Essen Hochschule to study piano with Paul Badura Skoda. Colin subsequently taught and performed in Germany. On returning to Australia he became Head of Keyboard at Ascham School in Sydney, later moving to Canberra in 1992 to take up the position of repetiteur at the Canberra School of Music. Colin gave sonata recitals with the violinist Erich Binder (Concert Master of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) on both of his visits to Australia.

In 1997 Colin helped to establish CAMRA, where he is currently Artistic Director and principal piano teacher. Under CAMRA's auspices, Colin has performed the complete piano sonatas of Mozart, prepared the music and staging of award winning productions of several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, The Beggar's Opera, the liturgical opera Ordo Virtutum by Hildegard von Bingen, and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Colin has given many concerts in Canberra as both a soloist and an accompanist. In association with St. Philip's, he has prepared and conducted numerous orchestral masses and directed performances of Handel's Messiah and Bach's St. John Passion.

Patricia Whitbread, Co-Director and vocal coach

Patricia began seriously studying singing at the age of 19, under the tutelage of Alice Mallon‑Muir in Perth, WA. She was successful in many competitions, including the ABC's Instrumental and Vocal (State and Commonwealth Finalist), and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions (Commonwealth Finalist, regional winner in Hawaii in 1974, and Australian representative at the Finals in New York). In these early years, she performed principal roles with the Western Australian Opera Company and Victorian State Opera.

Patricia was a trainee principal with Opera Australia in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded an Opera Foundation Scholarship to study in West Germany (1977). From 1978-1980, she was a principal singer with Opera Australia, and returned to West Germany to perform and teach from 1980-84.

Since returning to Australia, Patricia has taught and performed extensively in Sydney and Canberra. She was President of the ACT Chapter of the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing for a number of years. Her wealth of vocal and stage experience is seen in many of CAMRA's productions.

Linda Anchell (Chorus)

Deacon in St. Pip's; surrounded by music since before birth; singing in choirs and church; very little opera experience.

Theresa Buetre (Chorus)

This is Theresa's first show with CAMRA. Most recently she has performed in Return to the Forbidden Planet (Queanbeyan Players, 2012), Oliver (Ickle Pickle Productions, 2012) and Hairspray (Canberra Philharmonic, 2012). Theresa's love for performing was also nurtured at Karabar Highschool, with roles such as Chip in Beauty and the Beast (KHS, 2008); vocalist in Gods of War (KHS, 2008) for which she received a CAT award nomination for the Patricia Kelson encouragement award; and Ruth in Pirates of Penzance (KHS, 2010), for which she received the CAT award for Best Supporting Actress in a School or Youth Musical.

Gerard Clifton (Chorus)

Gerard has been a member of community choirs for many years, starting in Sydney with the Balmain Consort while learning voice with Marie-Cecile Henderson. Gerard is one of the original members of the Canberra chamber choir Igitur Nos and has performed as a soloist in choral works on several occasions. He has also joined the chorus in several CAMRA productions, including bit roles as a sailor in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and an ill-fated sheep in Mozart's Bastien and Bastienne.

Katie Cole (Donna anna — 4 & 6 July)

A few years ago, not long after I'd moved from Sydney to Canberra, I was walking by chance through the St. Philips courtyard when I heard singing. I followed the sound to the tiny room where Patricia Whitbread was giving voice lessons, knocked on the door and the rest is history. She continues to teach me singing and has given me many fine opportunities to perform, like this one. Thank you Pat (and Colin)!

Tanuja Doss (Donna Anna— 11 & 13 July)

Tanuja has studied singing since she was fourteen. While she chose to study economics at university, instead of accepting the place she was offered at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, she kept up her singing through private lessons with Jean Schofield. Since moving to Canberra, she has studied voice under Patricia Whitbread with coaching from Colin Forbes, and completed her AMusA in 2003.

With Pat and Colin, she is gradually working her way through Mozart's operatic roles for soprano — including as the Countess in La nozze di Figaro, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito — with the occasional detour along the way into other works, such as the title roles in Handel's Alcina, and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.

Tanuja has also performed as soprano soloist in a number of concerts and oratorios in Canberra, including for Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, Handel's Messiah, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, Rutter's Requiem, Bach's St. John Passion, and Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum.

This is Tanuja's second time performing the role of Donna Anna

Lorna Gamble (Chorus)

Lorna Gamble is a foundation member of CAMRA and has been Treasurer since its beginning, more than 10 years ago. A soprano, Lorna has appeared in almost all CAMRA performances of theatrical and choral works.

Xavier Halliwell (Chorus)

Xavier has been a student of singing for four years. He has spent a lot of that time being judged and rated, participating in the Canberra Eisteddfod and completing several AMEB exams. Over the years he has also been a member of several obscure and short-lived choirs. He is now making his stage debut. Outside of singing and performing, Xavier enjoys candlelit dinners, long walks on the beach and tormenting Deceivers with the fires of Hell. His feast day is October 9.

Stephen Hines (Il Commendatore)

Stephen has been appearing in local theatre productions for the last thirteen years, after being dragged into the chorus of Canberra Philharmonic's One Enchanted Evening by his mother. He has appeared as the Pirate King in Queanbeyan Players' production of The Pirates of Penzance, and played such parts as those of John Wellington Wells, Count Almaviva and Don Giovanni with CAMRA. Stephen is looking forward to playing a stiff for the first time, although he has a long history of dying on-stage.

Elisha Holley (Donna Elvira— 11 & 13 July)

Elisha grew up in Canberra and, at a young age, surrounded herself in music. Her natural singing ability led her to the ensemble Cantare at the age of 14. Through her numerous years with the ensemble and through the tutelage of Patricia Whitbread, Elisha was able to develop the necessary skills to audition and be accepted to study music at the tertiary level.

In 2004, Elisha completed her degree in music at the Queensland Conservatorium majoring in performance and pedagogy. At the Conservatorium, Elisha studied under Margaret Schindler and had the privilege of performing in such operas as Suor Angelica (Puccini), The Pilgrim's Progress (Vaughan Williams), and Semele (Handel).

Since completing her degree, Elisha uses her pedagogical skills to teach and has enjoyed developing the voices of singers of all ages for almost ten years. Following the birth of her second child last year, Elisha returned to the stage where she performed a supporting role in Iolanthe (Gilbert and Sullivan) and competed in the National Aria Competition. Elisha now looks forward to continuing to perform in and around Canberra and to developing more roles both in opera and music theatre.

Charles Hudson (Don Ottavio)

Charles Hudson was cantor at Brisbane's St. Thomas Aquinas Church in 2008-09. In 2010, he performed the title role in Mozart's opera Bastien und Bastienne and sang Neapolitan songs at the National Gallery of Australia. In 2011 Charles joined the Australian National Youth Opera, touring New South Wales, was the tenor soloist in Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor, tenor soloist in Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes and performed excerpts from La Bohème and Don Giovanni with the Müeller International Chamber Orchestra. He performed the lead roles of Camille in The Merry Widow in 2011 and Charlie in Brigadoon in 2012. He has been a regular principal in Canberra's popular Opera by Candlelight concerts since 2010 performing excerpts from La Bohème, Le Pêcheurs de Perles, Lucia di Lammermoor and La Traviata.

In 2013 he has been be tenor soloist in Bach's Easter Oratorio and will be tenor soloist in Handel's Messiah, will perform a concert of musical theatre classics with Sydney's TOPS orchestra and perform Schumann's Dichterliebe song cycle for Art Song Canberra. Charles has worked most recently with James Christiansen OAM, Phil Perman OAM, Megan Evans OAM, John Bolton-Wood AM, and Gioacchino Li Vigni.

Peter Laurence (Don Giovanni)

Peter Laurence began singing as a treble in the Chapel Choir of Trinity Grammar School, Sydney. He has an eclectic musical taste and enjoys singing not only opera, but also choral music and barbershop. He is particularly fond of Mozart and has sung the roles of Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte and Publio in La Clemenza di Tito. Highlights of his choral career include: Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. John's Passion, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, and Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. When not singing, Peter teaches History and Legal Studies at the Cranbrook School in Sydney. Peter is also the captain of the heavy frigate, HMS Indefatigable, and spends his holidays searching the coast of the Spanish Main for treasure galleons to board and plunder.

Rosemary lohmann (Zerlina — 4 & 6 July)

Rosemary has sung and danced with companies in Canberra and Queanbeyan as everything from a tap-dancing tube of pimple cream to Hildegard von Bingen's personification of Modesty in CAMRA's production of Ordo Virtutum. She has also sung as chorister and soloist in sacred and secular choirs and is currently preparing for a European tour with the Austrian Choir. As a teacher Rosemary enjoys seeing singers develop their skills and creativity. Working with CAMRA again and bringing Zerlina to life has been great fun!

Rhys Madigan (Chorus)

Originally from rural South Australia, Rhys studied at The University of Adelaide, graduating with first-class honours in Mechanical Engineering and Arts (Politics), with an honours thesis entitled 'Micycle — A Self-Balancing Unicycle'. Rhys relocated to Canberra in 2011 and works as an information technology consultant with Accenture.

Over the past two years, Rhys has been involved in several productions with Canberra Opera, including The Elixir of Love, The Magic Flute and Scenes from Carmen and Rigoletto, as a singer, repetiteur and music director. Rhys has also performed in the ensemble of Canberra Philharmonic Society productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables.

Denise Manley (Chorus)

Denise has been involved with CAMRA since its inception and has appeared in various roles throughout the years. She is thrilled to assist once again and thanks Colin and Pat for another opportunity to be included in such a brilliant production with such an irrepressible cast!

Jennifer Marlton (Chorus)

Jennifer began singing at the age of 19 when she began singing lessons. She was in her first musical the next year — The Gondoliers with ACT singers — and in 2009 was accepted into the George Mason University choir while on student exchange in America. She was in the chorus of the Canberra Opera production of The Elixir of Love in 2011, and in 2012 performed in their production of The Magic Flute, as well as in Iolanthe and Brigadoon with the Queanbeyan Players. She has been having singing lessons with her current teacher, Elisha Holley, for approximately two and a half years. She completed a Bachelor of Arts/Law in 2010 and in 2012 completed a Certificate III in Music.

Bronwyn McIlvar (Chorus)

Bronwyn has always been interested in music. She studies the bel canto vocal technique with David Reedy and also plays the piano. She is currently focused on her Bachelor of Secondary Music Education with the ANU School of Music and the University of Canberra. After completing her degree she intends to become a music teacher.

Bronwyn has performed with her school choir, concert band, jazz band and orchestra. She has also performed in school plays, musicals and Rock Eisteddfods. In 2010 she appeared in David Reedy's abridged version of The Magic Flute as one of the three spirits; in 2011 as a chorus member in The Elixir of Love, performed by Canberra Opera; in 2012 with the Queanbeyan Players as a fairy in their production of Iolanthe; and also in 2012 she revisited The Magic Flute with Canberra Opera — again, as one of the three spirits. This year she appeared as the page in Rigoletto and as a chorus member in Carmen, and now as a chorus member in Don Giovanni with CAMRA.

Chris McNee (Masetto)

Chris has performed a number of roles in many shows around Canberra over the past few years, including Papageno in The Magic Flute and Dr. Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love with Canberra Opera. He has performed in countless shows with CAMRA as well, notably as Colas in Bastien and Bastienne as well as appearing in a number of concerts and recitals. He also recently won a Canberra Area Theatre Judge's Choice award for his performance of Private Willis in Iolanthe with the Queanbeyan Players. Chris, although being a Canberran at heart, recently moved to Brisbane to further his study of voice with Ms Adele Nisbet at the Queensland Conservatorium. Chris is very much looking forward to performing Masetto in his hometown.

Gerard Ninnes (Chorus)

Gerard is excited to meet Don Giovanni for the first time. He was previously seen in Queanbeyan Players (QP) production of The Gondoliers (2010) as Giuseppe, in QP's Iolanthe (2012) as the half man half fairy and always conflicted Strephon, was offered a wonderful opportunity to be involved in Canberra Opera Workshop's impressive production of The Magic Flute, and then got lost in the fields of heather in QP's Brigadoon (2012) where he had the fantastic role of Tommy. Gerard is also responsible for starting ANU's National University Theatre Society (NUTS) in 2001. He had a short break in 2011 where he travelled around Europe, entertaining hostels in Italy, France, Germany and England in between leading gelato tours, teaching new friends how to street perform, and going on adventures in time (about 2000 years).

Gerard would like to thank Pat and Colin for this opportunity and for the continued mentoring and wisdom of his singing teacher and friend — Phil Perman.

Madeleine Rowland (Zerlina— 11 & 13 July)

Madeleine has been passionate about musical theatre from a young age. She studies singing with Patricia Whitbread, is coached by Colin Forbes and has trained internationally at the New Zealand National Singing Summer School and with Stephen Anthony Brown in London.

The diverse world of theatre has led Madeleine to perform many different characters including a secretary, a tart, a nun, numerous servants and, on more than one occasion, Pavarotti. In 2012, she played the role of Phyllis in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe with Queanbeyan Players and performed in CAMRA's Christmas Cabaret – Chaos in the Choir. Other recent appearances have included roles in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Handel's Alcina and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and recitals with Art Song Canberra and CAMRA.

When not performing herself, Madeleine can be found teaching solo singing and pre-school music.

Peter Smith (Leporello)

Peter has performed in more than 40 productions of musicals, operetta and opera in Canberra. His roles have included the lead baritone roles in 11 of the 13 Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Wild Bill Hickock in Calamity Jane, the Poet in Kismet and El Gallo in The Fantasticks. He is currently the President of the Queanbeyan Players.

Judith Swanson (Donna Elvira — 4 & 6 July)

In reviving her music passion after raising a family, Judith has broadened her interests to include opera, oratorio, sacred music, art song and Lieder (particularly Wolf and Schubert). Judith has performed in a number of local and interstate productions including Irene, The Grand Duke and Messiah. Judith has appeared in Melbourne Opera's Canberra performances of Puccini's La Bohème and performed for Art Song Canberra. Some of her more recent roles have been in: Messiah, Alcina, Fidelio and various Gilbert and Sullivan productions for CAMRA; and the Magic Flute and Opera Highlights for Canberra Opera Inc. Judith is studying voice with Patricia Whitbread, with Colin Forbes as her repetiteur and accompanist.