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Posted: September 27, 2012 by brycemason in Arts & Culture, Music, Rural Events

Welcome to the Herald Sun Aria Award Heat 1.

Facing the stage at Ballarat’s Her Majesty’s Theatre

The emcee welcomes everyone. Introduces our adjudicators, our pianist, tells everyone to turn off their phones. Most in the audience of 25 do not. But they are mostly elderly. I switch it to flight mode. He introduces the first competitor.

The lights go out. The red curtain rises and a beautiful old Steinway is simply lit. Being the first onstage is a tough slot. You set the tone for the whole show. It is your responsibility to start with a bang. You have to hook the audience, you have to impress the judges, and, most importantly, you have to not stuff it up.

Something else about the first slot is the amount of time of time between the beginning and the end. By the end, unless you’ve done your job right, you are mostly forgotten. Or you are remembered in abstract ways, like what you were wearing or the colour of your hair, or how you stuffed it up.

The Herald Sun Aria Award has been part of the Royal South Street Society’s repertoire for the 88 years. The Herald Sun has been the sponsor for all that time.

The award showcases exciting new operatic talent, with the winner getting a $30,000 cash prize with overseas tuition.

Herald Sun Aria 2012 Finalists (From left) Javier Vilarino, Fiona Jopson, Brenton Spiteri, Elizabeth Lewis, Roberto Abate and Clarissa Spata.

The Royal South Street Society, better known as simply South Street, started as a Men’s Debating Society in 1879, but grew to include acting, singing, music, dance and calisthenics. Australia’s premier calisthenics competition is held at South Street.

Maria Callas once said, “I would not kill my enemies, but I will make them get down on their knees. I will, I can, I must.” Opera is all about talent and only the most talented and disciplined performers succeed.

Of a pool of 48, only the best young talent will be considered, until there are just six performers who will battle it out at Hamer Hall to be crowned the winner.

A scurry of applause comes from the 25-strong audience. Ms. Kate Amos introduces herself, and her song, and sings.

The final will be performed at Hamer Hall on Monday, October 22 at 7pm. The six finalists are Roberto Abate, Javier Vilarino, Brenton Spiteri, Elizabeth Lewis, Fiona Jopson and Clarissa Sparta.

Follow the link to listen to Hana Crisp at the Herald Sun Aria Award.